2008 Burgundy:

Domaine Michael Sarrazin, Domaine J-L & F Chavy, Domaine Robert Groffier

Routes des Grands Crus

We recently tasted the 2008 releases of three top Burgundy producers. As anticipated these wines, both white and red, reveal Burgundy at its best. They are wines that combine intensity of flavor, elegance and notes of minerals and earth. They also show good precision in winemaking and none of the high acidity resulting from a lack of ripeness often found in lower quality producers. The wines of J-L & F Chavy and Robert Groffier are what the French call “coups de coeurs”, producers that to us stand out for quality.

The 2008 vintage in Burgundy got off to a poor start, and a cool and somewhat rainy summer gave rise to fears of botrytis and mediocre quality, too. But a beautiful Indian Summer (or whatever the equivalent term is in French) created optimal conditions for ripening and harvest. The proof is now in the bottle, arriving at your favorite wine store shelf soon.

In terms of price, many of the wines, especially the whites, are within reach due to today’s relatively favorable exchange rates. However, at the very top of the reds--the 1er Cru and Gran Cru levels—aficionados should be prepared to pay relatively high prices.

The wines are imported by JAO Imports, McLean, VA, which specializes in fine Burgundy.

Domaine Michel Sarrazin

Guy and Jean-Yves Sarrazin manage this family estate which is situated in the tiny hamlet of Jambles (pop. 500) just southwest of Givry. Jambles has special vineyard covered hills, the source of the high-altitude grapes used to produce these wines. The Sarrazin’s are solid artisan winemakers.

Domaine Michel Sarrazin 2008 Bourgogne Blanc Burgundy ($20) 90

Exceptionally rich and creamy for a Bourgogne Blanc, this wine offers fresh, ripe orchard fruit with a touch of lemon zest on the nose. The palate is creamy with a bright acidic backbone, finishing bright and crisp. Excellent value!

Domaine Michel Sarrazin
2008 Givry Blanc Les Grognots Village Burgundy ($25) 88+

This Village-designated Chardonnay spends 12 months in 35% new oak, and it shows, with smoky oak and light butterscotch on the nose. But the palate also shows some vibrant orchard fruit with a bright lemon accent. It finishes long with dry tannins.

Domaine Michel Sarrazin
2008 Rully Blanc "Sans Nom" Burgundy ($26) 90+

The “Sans Nom” shows its Rully terroir of limestone and clay soils. It has a pleasing bouquet of light hazelnut, yellow flowers and smoke and a dry, mineral-laden palate, finishing long and chalky. Its crisp minerality makes it a perfect food wine.

Domaine Michel Sarrazin 2008 Bourgogne Rouge Burgundy ($20) 89

This medium-weight Bourgogne rouge is sourced from 35 year-old vineyards located near Givry. It has a light-medium ruby hue and aromas of fragrant pie cherries, herbs and earth on the nose. On the palate it combines more pie cherry fruit with excellent acidity and a long lasting finish. Very pleasant drinking.

Domaine Michel Sarrazin 2008 Maranges Rouge Cote de Beaune ($31) 90

The 2008 Maranges Rouge exhibits a medium ruby color with brambles, smoke, earth, and cherry aromas. Sourced from 25 year-old vines and aged in 100% new oak for 15 months, it reveals concentrated cherry fruit and toasted oak flavors. It has excellent balance with good acidity and a nice long finish, combining rusticity and refinement. Maranges is a new appellation in Cote de Beaune; Prior to its well-deserved AOC status, most of the wines in Mranges found their way into Côte de Beaune-Villages.

Domaine J-L & F Chavy

Domaine J-L & F Chavy stands for Jean-Louis and Françoise Chavy. Françoise is Jean-Louis's wife. This domaine was founded in 2003 after Jean-Louis and his younger brother Alain split their father Gérard Chavy's domaine and decided to go their separate ways. It is a tiny domaine at only 6.5 hectares, but based on our tastings, it is one worth getting to know.

Domaine J-L & F Chavy 2008 Puligny-Montrachet Village Burgundy ($49) 92

This textbook, medium-yellow gold Puligny-Montrachet is richly aromatic of ripe mango, roasted grain and hazelnut. The elegant palate is similarly richly flavored with chalky minerals running through from the attack to the clean, focused finish of mango and melon. A gorgeous wine! Very good value, too!

Domaine J-L & F Chavy
2008 Puligny-Montrachet Village Les Charmes Burgundy ($54) 91+

The single vineyard Les Charmes is superbly balanced with gun flint and firm-edged tropical fruit on the nose but showing more stone-like minerality than fruit on the dry and refined palate. A beautifully focused wine.

Domaine J-L & F Chavy
2008 Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Champs Gains Burgundy ($69) 93

The 1er Cru Les Champs Gains is beautifully balanced, elegant, and delicious. It has a sumptuous nose of honeysuckle flowers, orange blossoms, and anise. The palate shows significant depth, layers of flavors and stony minerals, and stunning purity. Simply put, one of the best Chardonnays we’ve tasted in a very long time.

Domaine Robert Groffier

Domain Robert GroffierDomaine Robert Groffier is one of the top domains in all of Burgundy. The wines are simply extraordinary. Instead of power and muscle, Groffier offers complexity, purity and finesse. Most of his important wines are from Chambolle-Musigny where he owns 1.12 hectares of Amoureuses and other parcels. Groffier is assisted by his son Serge, who is in his early forties, and the two make a superb team, as is evident in the wines.

Domaine Robert Groffier 2008 Gevrey-Chambertin Village Burgundy ($75) 92

A village wine of considerable depth and concentration with a rich bouquet of cherry and earth. It is a nicely integrated, richly flavored wine showing ripe cherry fruit and toasted oak with earth notes. It’s beautifully balanced and has a long finish.

Domaine Robert Groffier
2008 Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Les Hauts Doix Burgundy ($131) 91

The medium ruby Les Hauts Doix exhibits boasts dark cherry and mushroom aromas on the nose. Aged in 20 percent new oak for 13 months, it is ripe and silky smooth on the palate with a spicy long finish that is very satisfying.

Domaine Robert Groffier
Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Les Sentiers Burgundy ($143) 93

The Les Sentier is dark ruby in color and combines earth and elegance. It is full and rich on the palate and beautifully balanced with concentrated ripe plum and cherry fruit and mineral notes, finishing ripe, sweet, and long. Sourced from 52 year old vines, this wine has a special sense of terroir.

Domaine Robert Groffier
2008 Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Les Amoureuses Burgundy ($197) 94

The dark ruby Les Amoureuses reveals amazing depth and layers of cherry fruit with forest floor nuances. It has great intensity of pure ripe fruit flavor on the palate with a rich, opulent silky mouth feel. It is an extraordinary wine with richness on the palate that goes on and on. Here is Burgundy wine making at its very best! It is no surprise that Les Amoureuse is a leadeing contender for grand cru status. A great wine to share with ones you love.

Domaine Robert Groffier 2008 Clos de Bez Grand Cru Burgundy ($230) 93

The Clos de Bez offers an effusive bouquet of ripe dark cherry fruit with blueberry, earth, and stem notes. It is beautifully balanced and elegant on the palate. Aged in 100% new oak for 13 months, it reveals a full rich texture and is long lasting but doesn’t have quite the fullness on the palate as Les Amoureuses at this stage of its development. This is still a young wine and will benefit from cellaring.

Domaine Robert Groffier 2008 Bonnes Mares Grand Cru Burgundy ($215) 95

Groffier's 2008 Bonnes Mare Grand Cru is a beautifully crafted wine. Sourced from 40 year-old vines, it offers dark rich red berry fruit aromas backed by magnificent acidity and minerality. Feminine and elegant in character, it is beautifully balanced with rich concentrated red berry fruit flavors, polished tannins and a long finish. Shows much the same depth of flavor as Les Amoureuses but with still more elegance. An absolutely superb wine!

Mike Potashnik and Don Winkler