Our Wines / Friday, May 21st, 2021
“What happened to Boris Champy after he was asked to “move on” from Domaine des Lambrays in 2019 having barely got his feet under the desk? The answer is this. I visited Champy at his winery in the Haute-Côtes behind Pommard in the sleepy village of Nantoux on a Saturday morning when we had time to chat about his acquisition of Domaine Didier Montchovet. “Didier wanted to retire in 2020,” Champy tells me after a quick tour of the vines in Le Clous bathed in fiery autumnal hues. “One Christmas he invited his four children to his home to discuss the possibility of one of them taking over his domaine, giving them a year to consider. None of them were inclined to pursue the life of a vigneron and so he began discussions with [likeminded] biodynamic producers. But he feared that his vineyards, ostensibly his life’s work over 40 years, would simply be subsumed into the portfolio of a larger Volnay or Pommard producer. His project would just disappear. So, he was attracted to me as it could continue as an independent family concern.” Neal Martin Vinous.
“It was a perfect case of serendipity. Champy told me that he was in the middle of his career and had already worked for large producers such as Dominus, Louis Latour and Domaine des Lambrays, part of the LVMH luxury house. He wanted a change, a small enterprise under his own name and flushed with severance pay, was able to buy Domaine Montchovet without investors. Inspecting the vines in Le Clous, he explained how Didier Montchovet was one of the pioneers of biodynamic, certified in 1984 and he was subsequently visited by the likes of Anne-Claude Leflaive, Lalou Bize-Leroy and Aubert de Villaine who adopted the idea. As such, their status and ownership of world-famous vineyard clouded over the role that Montchovet played. To his chagrin, at wine fairs, consumers would flock to those aforementioned growers and ignored his modest Hautes-Côtes de Beaune. But what it does mean is that decades later, his vines are completely adapted to biodynamic viticulture and so, for example, his 161-49 rootstock shows absolutely no signs of degeneration compared to other producers.”
“Champy has a small range that includes small parcels in Pommard and Beaune. However, it is the original parcels in the Hautes-Côtes de Beaune that frankly rewrote everything I thought possible. It is no exaggeration or hyperbole to say that they are equal to many Premier Crus that I tasted.  Champy explained how these vineyards remain 3°C cooler than the Côte d’Or due to their altitude and with global warming, who is to say that they will not represent the prime locations for vines in decades to come? In the meantime, do seek out Champy’s maiden vintage because there is something special brewing here.” Neal Martin Vinous
2018 Domaine Boris Champy Hautes-Côtes de Beaune Rouge “Altitude” $49.95 per bottle – six packs
The Bourgogne Hautes-Côtes de Beaune “Altitude” is a blend of the two climats of “Le Clous” and “En Bignon”. The nose takes three or four minutes to warm up, eventually revealing very attractive, tertiary-tinged red fruit. Scents of orange rind and mint eventually emerge. It has a clean and pure bouquet with perfumed iris petals aromas tincturing the blackberry and blueberry fruit. The palate is medium-bodied with silky supple tannins, fine acidity, good tension with a slightly sappy, saline finish. A joy from start to finish. I can envisage this offering 8 to 10 years of drinking pleasure.
2018 Bourgogne Hautes-Côtes de Beaune Blanc “Elevation 382” $49.95 per bottle – six packs
The Bourgogne Hautes-Côtes de Beaune Blanc “Elevation 382” comes from single vineyard of “Montage de Cras” . Raised in 30% new oak, it has a very attractive bouquet with white peach, Japanese yuzu and a lychee aroma that is quite Alsace in style. The palate is very well balanced with a tang of marmalade on the entry, fine depth and precision with a lightly spiced, lemon thyme and ginger tinged finish that lingers long in the mouth. Superb. Bourgogne Hautes-Côtes de Beaune Blanc “Elevation 382” A winery to watch in Burgundy.