Navigating Burgundy can leave one feeling a lot like Odysseus during his treacherous journey between the Scylla & Charybdis, what with its sprawling vineyards, multitude of domaines, colourful characters & ancient classifications. We have always maintained that one of the best strategies to buying Burgundy is focusing especially on "value vineyards and favoured sites". These generally include places that sit adjacent to much more famous, higher priced climats, where the terroir is often indistinguishable. When an excellent grower produces a wine from a vineyard like this, the result is often of a superior quality to its classification. Following this principle we've picked up some exceptionally good wines over the years, and today we're shining a spotlight on three particular vineyards that punch well above their weight.
Morey St. Denis Clos des Ormes
One of Morey St. Denis' most interesting premier crus, this fascinating vineyard sits on the border of Morey & Gevrey-Chambertin, often combining characteristics of both. The 3ha vineyard itself is primely positioned just below Clos de la Roche Grand Cru and an extension of Mazoyeres Chambertin Grand Cru in neighbouring Gevrey, so we're dealing with serious terroir here!
George Lignier's Morey-Saint-Denis ‘Clos des Ormes’ (2016) was the first premier cru red Burgundy to appear on our list back in 2014 and has been a staple ever since. It sums up everything we like about Burgundy: artisan production (the domaine owns just 17ha) and family run; old vines, young winemaker (Benoit Stehly has overseen tremendous progress here); a style at once hedonistic yet cerebral; a hidden gem, under-the-radar site par second to none; and yet the wine remains genuinely hard to beat for value. Somehow the 2022 costs below £300 per case of six, which for a wine with Grand Cru pretensions, is about the biggest bargain in Burgundy you'll find...
Benoit describes the Lignier style as "cistercian", with low intervention, light extraction and a real emphasis on letting the terroir do the talking. These wines tend to be quite backward and almost austere on release (not the case with the Bonnes-Mares 2022 during our EP tasting which was absolutely singing!), though with extended cellaring they unfurl beautifully. Lignier crafts some of the most ethereal, textured and thought-provoking wines in Burgundy, offering more than a hint at the style one finds in those mythical addresses in Cote d'Or yet at extremely accessible prices.
"The 2022 Morey-Saint-Denis 1er Cru Clos des Ormes is more structured, unwinding in the glass with aromas of dark berries, licorice and musky spices, followed by a medium to full-bodied, supple and seamless palate underpinned by a chassis of rich, powdery tannin."
91-92 points, William Kelley, Wine Advocate
93 points, Christy Canterbury MW (Tim Atkin)
Vosne Romanee, Les Malconsorts
This jewel of Vosne-Romanee is a peerless 1er Cru that is arguably first in line for elevation to Grand Cru. status The vineyard sits directly below Domaine de la Romanée-Conti La Tâche, specifically the original plot from over 200 years ago named Joly de Bévy after the owner's family name, who also happened to be the president of the Parliament de Bourgogne.
La Tâche has expanded considerably since then, especially into Les Gaudichots, though it's not hard to imagine a parallel universe in which this iconic patchwork of vineyards subsumed Malconsorts as well...
Map courtesy of WineHog
Today there are just six domaines in Malconsorts: Dujac, de Montille, Cathiard, Liger-Belair, Hudelot-Noellat and Clos Frantin. These are all cracking wines, and de Montille owns an even more special plot (Christiane) that practically sits within the La Tâche vineyard itself!
We're also huge fans of Clos Frantin's Malconsorts, which in spite of such esteemed company remains "clearly among the better wines from the climat" for Winehog. Jasper Morris meanwhile regularly ranks the Clos Frantin very highly, and in 2022 its potential 96 points matches Dujac, Liger-Belair & Hudellot-Noellat. It also happens to be by far the most affordable, clocking in at a fifth of the price of Cathiard and a 30th of neighbouring La Tâche!
Clos Frantin is also the largest holder in the vineyard, and though production levels have been a challenge in recent vintages, in 2022 we have a more robust allocation of this hidden gem, including magnums.
"A fine deep purple, with brilliance. The bouquet has the energy which we expect with that extra note of headiness. The Malconsorts opens out gorgeously and is kept fresh by a good thread of acidity. Pure, long, fine, lifted, medium plus bodied but there is a little bit of majesty here nonetheless. Drink from 2030-2038. Tasted: October 2023"
93-96 points, Jasper Morris MW, Inside Burgundy
Chassagne-Montrachet, En Remilly
Bordered by the Grand Crus Chevalier-Montrachet to the north-east, and Le Montrachet to the south-east and the village of St Aubin to the north, En Remilly is a tiny single hectare premier cru of extraordinary quality. The vineyard itself continues much deeper into St Aubin, though the Chassagne plot commands the most sought-after wines due to its proximity to Chevalier and Le Montrachet.
Naturally only a few domaines own plots here, including Morey-Coffinet & Bruno Colin, although our top pick is Philippe Colin who crafts a sensational En Remilly. Philippe’s parcel of vines is in the small section of En Remilly that is part of Chassagne and sits right next to Chevalier Montrachet and a grape’s throw from Montrachet itself. Even if ignorant of its location, the aristocratic, stony nose, with its great wave of briny minerals, is exhilarating and shouts class and distinction.
Production is always tiny here and the few cases we get each year are always snapped up quickly, though we still have a case left of the 2022 that is well worth adding to the cellar!
"Welcome back after being frosted out in 2021. A pale colour with light green reflections. The nose is discreet but suggests refinement along with a good intensity of the fruit. Generous on the palate while retaining balance, some fresh plums, a saline note from the balanced acidity, and a long drawn out, nuanced finish. Very stylish, as ever. Drink from 2027-2036. Tasted: October 2023."
93-95 points, Jasper Morris