Featured Producer -- August-September 2015
Thierry Violot-Guillemard - Pommard
A true character in every sense of the word, and one of my favorite people on the planet, Thierry Violot-Guillemard is definitely one of a kind. He’s a bit gruff and burly on the outside, with a warm and genuine tenderness within – much like his home village of Pommard. Thierry sports a wild, bushy, walrus mustache that belies the understated elegance in his luscious wines. Where most others find aggressive tannins, Thierry finds the finesse. You will not find Pommards like this at any other address – an exquisite balance between power and grace.
Thierry and his wife Estelle run the 15-acre estate (along with an excellent 4-room B&B next door. Book early – it’s always full!) Their son Johannes has joined the operation after finishing his vitculture education in 2015. We’ve worked with Thierry and his wines since the day we started our import business in 2005, having been introduced by a mutual winemaker friend in Volnay. (Jean-Pierre – thank you! I owe you a big one…)
Thierry farms organically. Why? “I should be able to plant lettuce in my vineyards, feed it to my family, and not worry that I’d be poisoning them.” He has fabulous old-vine holdings in the best Pommard 1er Crus (Rugiens and Epenots), a great piece of Beaune Clos des Mouches 1er Cru (both red AND white!), and the jewel-box vineyard called Clos Derrière St. Jean – it’s a Pommard 1er Cru that also happens to be the smallest 1er Cru in Burgundy, at less than one-fourth of an acre. (It produces just 20 cases or so of wine each year, which totally rock, btw.) It used to be a little larger – Thierry pulled out a few rows of vines in 2007 to put in a swimming pool – the Clos is actually in the backyard of his house, smack in the middle of the village!
Ever time I take a friend or customer to taste at Thierry’s, they are stunned by the beauty of his wines. Pommard has a reputation for making big, brawny, tannic-monster red Burgs. As a result, many producers have perhaps tried to exaggerate those characteristics in their wines, to make them more “Pommard-like.” However, Thierry and a few of his contemporaries have found that if you “take your foot off the pedal” a bit and don’t try to push the edge of the envelope so hard, there is actually an elegant and subtle beauty at the heart and soul of Pommard. His are Pommards that will seduce you, rather than beat you into submission. His are wines that I like to DRINK. Based on how quickly they sell out, I think you like to drink them too.
Featured Producer - June 2015
Domaine A-F Gros - Vosne-Romanée
Domaine A-F Gros was created in 1988 when Jean and Jeanine Gros passed on their estate to their three children, Michel, Bernard and Anne-Françoise. Their cousin Anne Gros also owns an estate, so there are now four “Gros” domaines with extensive holdings in Vosne-Romanée and other top villages in the Côte d’Or. Anne-Françoise married François Parent, a prominent vigneron in Pommard, and both of their operations are now together under one roof in a renovated facility in the center of Beaune (along with that of their daughter, Caroline Parent.)
Anne-Françoise and François (pictured below) live in Pommard, which is where I first met them many years ago. I’ve been a fan of the A-F Gros wines for a long time, and had always hoped to be able to work with them. The wines were imported into the US by another importer for many years, but fortunately for us that outfit left the business, and I was able to snap them up as soon as they became available.
François makes the wines for his wife’s estate as well as his own. The wines are very polished and elegant in style – which is an apt descriptor for the family members as well. These are an attractive bunch of people making some very attractive wines. In addition to the holdings inherited from the Jean Gros estate, they purchased an estate based in Flagey-Echezeaux and another in Savigny-lès-Beaune. They now make wine from a staggering array of Burgundy’s best appellations, including Richebourg, Echezeaux, Vosne-Romanée, Chambolle-Musigny, Morey-St. Denis, Volnay, Pommard, Beaune and Savigny-lès-Beaune!
Watch for our pre-arrival offer of the -F Gros 2013 wines this month - they will sell-out quickly!
Featured Producer - May 2015
Domaine Céline & Frédéric Gueguen - Chablis
We started importing wines from Frédéric Gueguen (gay-gan) and his wife Céline back in 2006. Céline is the daughter of one of Chablis’ largest producers – Jean-Marc Brocard. Her husband Frédéric was the vineyard manager for the Brocard estate, and with the help of Jean-Marc they purchased their own domaine in 2003. They made excellent wines from their own estate while Fred continued running the vineyards and co-managing the Brocard operation, until a family rupture tore everything apart in 2012.
When the dust settled, Fred and Céline were no longer involved with the Brocard operation in any way, and they set off on their own once again. They were able to purchase a number of excellent vineyard parcels, including some very nice pieces of well-situated Chablis and two Chablis 1er Crus, and the new incarnation of Domaine Gueguen was born in 2013. We are thrilled to have the Gueguen wines back – they’ve been some of our most popular selections over the years, and personal favorites as well.
They have 54 acres all told, with holdings primarily in the Chablis villages of Préhy (where they live), Chichée, and La Chapelle Vaupelteigne (where Fred’s family is from.) Chardonnay from these three sites combine to make an excellent example of what Chablis is all about – crisp, bright fruit, laser-pure acidity, notes of iodine and crushed rock, and a whiff of salty sea air on the nose.
We've enjoyed many great meals and evenings at their ancient stone farmhouse in Préhy (below). Fred's a huge red Burgundy fan, and always seems to have something special tucked away in his cellar. He's also a fellow soccer geek, and has season tickets to the Auxerre matches - which came in handy when Auxerre was in the Champions League and I got to see them play Real Madrid a few years back.
Frédéric is a meticulous vigneron, a very attentive farmer whose vines are clearly well-tended. In the winery, he's very old-school and hands-off. No wood, no magic tricks, just pure and classic Chablis. These wines are regulars at our table. Be sure to grab some when you see the offers come your way, or we'll have to drink them all!