Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Search For A Barthod Replacement Ends

After unsuccessfully chasing Utah powder for a week I’m back in the saddle. On Sunday night,  I received a random text from my liaison to Michael Skurnik Wines. The text simply said “Traveling with Alexandrine Roy tomorrow. You gonna be in?” Monday is my usual “day off” but how can I refuse the opportunity to taste the 2010 offerings of Domaine Marc Roy with the winemaker? In short, if you are looking for elegant, classic, refined pinot noir from Burgundy the 2010 vintage offerings from Domaine Marc Roy will end your search. Need more? Read on.

One of the pilfered.
Many years ago I began a love affair with the wines of Ghislaine Barthod. Her wines from the Chambolle Musigny district of Burgundy were the best pinot noirs I have ever put on my palate. They are sexy, ethereal and captivating. But I lost access to her wines because of a drawn out dispute with the US importer and have found myself searching for a replacement. That 5 year search has ended. My first introduction to Domain Marc Roy was the 2009 vintage. I introduced the wine to the shelves of my store about this time last year. Drawn to Alexandrine’s feminine, yet rustic and minimalist approach to pinot noir, I found myself pilfering bottles of the 2009 Domain Marc Roy Gevrey Chambertin Vieilles Vignes from the shelves each time we restocked. The estate has been bottling its own wines since 1982, yet its history is much deeper. Alexandrine is the fourth generation of her family to farm the estates in both Gevrey-Chambertin and Marsannay and has been the winemaker since 2003. I could talk ad nauseum about her winemaking techniques, but like all great pinot noir producers her approach is simple: do the work in the vineyard and your work in the cellar is easy. In her words, “I like classic pinot noir; too much color and extraction is not pinot.” Her 2010 vintage was very successful though quantity was lower than usual. It proved to be a vintage that required small yields in order to achieve full phenolic ripeness. She admits the vintage had a tough start with early rains that stalled flowering but those that remained patient and cut their yields reaped the rewards of gorgeous fruit producing textbook Burgundy. Ms. Roy is far from a “rock star” producer. She’s soft spoken, preferring instead to let her wines do the talking, allowing them to be the stars. She is one of the few female winemakers in Burgundy and credits that to the luck of being an only child. And while soft spoken and gentle something tells me Ms. Roy has a bit a wild side, riding fast and taking risks. In that regard, she reminds me of Nicolas Potel. Her wines are not widely distributed so I consider us lucky to have access to them. They will require at least six months before opening as they have just arrived and are a little nervous from the travel. While I don’t believe the wines are built for the long haul, I do believe that 5-8 years of cellaring will yield enchanting pinot noir.

2010 Domain Marc Roy Gevrey Chambertin “Vieilles Vignes”
Ms. Roy’s “village” level wine if you will. A terrific effort with bright raspberry and fresh flower aromas leaping from the glass. These aromas transfer to the palate but the addition of mineral and clay add weight, fine grained tannins add structure. More raspberry fruit with a touch of sour cherry rounded by silky smooth tannins on a captivating finish.

2010 Domaine Marc Roy Gevrey Chambertin “Clos Prieur”
From 50 year old vines the Clos Prieur is a bit more masculine than the Vieilles Vignes. More weight and fight on the palate. Aromas of bright cherry, dried sage and mushroom. The palate is filled with cherry fruit that is provided structure by the well integrated tannins. Minerality appears on the finish giving the wine polish and grip. Awesome pinot noir.

2010 Domaine Marc Roy Gevrey Chambertin “Cuvee Alexandrine”
This tiny production is considered Ms. Roy’s “Grand Cru”. A nose of dark cherry framed by a distinct note of wood and earth. The palate is the heaviest of all showing dark fruits wrapped in a core of soft wood and smoke notes. It’s framed by a distinct minerality giving it the polish of the Clos Prieur but the tannic structure gives the finish a round and supple feel. Stunning.

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