Burgundy Elite Languishing in Plain Sight

Posted on: 09/5/19 3:11 PM

$1050. That’s the average price of Cecile Tremblay’s 2015 Chapelle Chambertin. One of the most in-demand growers in Burgundy these days, Tremblay has attracted global attention and demand, with wines that are succulent, delicately fragrant, yet powerfully rich. Production is exceedingly small, and there’s nothing from the winery that can be found for under $150. And, yes, that includes the Bourgogne.

Sure, she has attractive holdings under vine – the aforementioned Chapelle-Chambertin, Vosne 1er Beauxmonts, Morey Très Girard, Chambolle 1er Feusselottes, et al. – and she is Henri Jayer’s granddaughter, but that’s not really the secret of her success. No. So what was it?

Pascal Roblet.

Pascal Roblet, of Domaine Roblet-Monnot, was once involved with Cecile, and the two shared a cellar, and founded their Domaines together. The house style and winemaking was Pascal’s work for both houses. Eventually the relationship soured, and each went their own ways, with the global trade and reviews following Cecile to Vosne, and largely ignoring Pascal’s humble Domaine in Volnay.

Go back to when the two were together and read Meadows’s reviews – you’ll find a treasure trove of low 90-pt. Scores and his coveted ♥s. But that was in 2005. After that, when the two dissolved their fortunes from each other, he seems to be under some unofficial boycott.

It’s a shame, because, honestly, these are some of the finest wines of Burgundy. And, if I’m being honest, they may be the best wines in Volnay. And, no, I’m not forgetting Guillaume d’Angerville or Domaine Lafarge, august and great as they are.

Pascal’s wines have an undeniable sense of place, bristling with energy, and at once seem to be all perfume, yet have concentration, length and power to boot. There is sumptuous silkiness to the entire range, and, frankly, I do not think there are better exemplars of the hauntingly delicate power Pinot Noir can achieve.

I have visited Pascal three times now; it is always among the highlights of the trip. One of the last of the eccentric and intuitive winemakers on the Côte, he comes across as a vigneron from a forgotten era. Barrels are unmarked, or eccentrically so, and his cellar is perhaps the coldest is all of Burgundy, as well as one of the most cramped. Every wine is in a different nook, all of which require stooping, and virtually guarantee you will, at some point, hit your head.

The barrels are old, older than you’d see at most producers, and varying in size between 225 and 400 liters. There are cobwebs everywhere, and no electricity, just construction site lights that are powered by a long series of extension cords. It feels like a trip through time.

But the wines. The wines are just so pure, so intense, so fragrant and so concentrated. And they deserve a following. Consider this a cri de coeur: buy these. They’re really something special.

2015 “Nerthus” Hautes-Côtes de Beaune Chardonnay
2016 Roblet-Monnot Hautes-Côtes de Beaune Pinot Noir 

Both the “entry range” at the Domaine represent stunning value: elegant, pure and fragrant Chardonnay and Pinot is hard to come by. The whites come from grapes owned by a friend and are bottled under a négoce label called “Nerthus.”

2016 Roblet-Monnot Pommard Chanlin Haut

60+ year old vines. New parcel as of 2015. Chanlins is a split vineyard – part in 1er and part in Village, bordering Volnay’s 1er Pitures, and containing more chalk than the rich clay of Pommard. Here we have a higher toned Pommard, more fragrant and delicate than is typical of the appellation. A pretty wine indeed.

2016 Roblet-Monnot Volnay St. Francois

40+ year old vines, blended from 8-9 vineyards, varying annually. 60% of the production is a blend from 1er Mitans and 1er Robardelles. Aged in 1-3 year old 300 L barrels.

2016 Roblet-Monnot Volnay 1er Taillepieds

60+ year old vines. The only wine in the lineup to see any new oak: 25% in 300 L barrels. Pascal’s parcel is dead center in the vineyard, with de Montille, Lafarge and d’Angerville as neighbors.

Posted in Burgundy List By Ian Halbert