New Producer: Domaine Rougeot, Mersault

By: Josh Adler

Many trips to Burgundy over the years have been rather disappointing. Searching for a great unknown domaine to work with in Burgundy’s Cote d’Or is like looking for a needle in a crowded and historic haystack. Earlier this year, on the advice of Marc Soyard from Domaine de la Cras, I ventured out to visit Pierre-Henri Rougeot at his family winery smack in the center of Meursault. Tasting through the first few wines from bottle and talking with Pierre-Henri about transitioning the domaine to organic farming and no-sulfur winemaking, it quickly became clear that Rougeot is making some truly deliciously compelling wines.

About the domaine:

In the center of Meursault village, Pierre-Henri Rougeot has been quietly producing impeccable minimal intervention, low-sulfur wines since he returned to the family domaine in 2010. The 18th century stone cellar was originally built for the Hospices de Beaune to press the fruit from the adjacent orchards, and was purchased Pierre-Henri’s great-great-grandfather in the 19th century. Today the orchards have been transformed into an elegant garden and stamp-sized monopole vineyard, and the cellar has been renovated to comfortably hold two vintages from Rougeot’s 13 hectares of vines in and around Meursault.

Pierre-Henri’s experience travelling throughout France gives him a unique vision that hews strongly to Burgundian tradition with a soft touch inspired by the vins natures made by his friends in Saumur, Cahors, and beyond. Today, the Rougeot vineyards are farmed organically, and Pierre-Henri’s no sulfur vinification effortlessly balances a natural wine approach with traditional Burgundian technique to create wines with energy and balance. Each terroir from Aligoté and Passetoutgrain through Premier Crus is bottled as a single-vineyard designate. The wines are energetic, precise, and delicious. It’s simply astounding that the domaine has maintained a quiet profile while producing such compelling wines. It will be even more astounding if that continues.

See his list of wines here

2018 Harvest at Ruppert-Leroy

By: Josh Adler

I’ve been wanting to take part in a harvest at Champagne Ruppert-Leroy in Essoyes for many years ever since we started working with the domaine. In 2018, the stars aligned and we were able join them for a short weekend in early September. Bénédicte Ruppert and Manu Leroy have fully embraced the biodynamic philosophy more than any other winemaker I’ve seen in France. On their plateau above Essoyes where Bénédicte’s father used to raise sheep, there is now a small farm next to their home and winery. In addition to making their own biodynamic preparations and compost, they take care of horses, cows, chickens, and sheep, and grow the crops to feed everyone, themselves included.

The harvest crew consisted of travelers, artists, acrobats, retired wine lovers, and the occasional American wine exporter. The domaine has four parcels, and each one is bottled separately each year as a single-vintage wine: Martin-Fontaine (100% Chardonnay), Les Cognaux (100% Pinot Noir), Fosse-Grely (50% Pinot Noir, 50% Chardonnay), and Papillon (100% Pinot Noir). We arrived in the middle of Fosse-Grely, the largest parcel, and began picking Pinot Noir alongside the rising sun. By the end of the day, the team of 15 or so vendangeurs had picked enough grapes to do one press, and enjoyed a hearty dinner with a bit of folkloric dancing before turning in to get up before dawn and head back to the vines.

(For those of you who have been following the domaine for a while, Papillon is technically part of Fosse-Grely, but has been bottled separately since the 2014 harvest)