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Burgundies from Domaine Direct

by Tom Cannavan, 09/06

Domaine Direct was established in 1981, specialising in importing and selling fine Burgundy. The company has since added high quality growers from elsewhere to its portfolio, including the Agency for Australia's Leeuwin Estate, but Burgundy remains their passion.

Often described as a "minefield" for the wine buyer, Burgundy has been on a roll recently. Reliability has improved dramatically in winemaking, and the region has been blessed with an uninterrupted string of good vintages since the late 90s.

But it remains essential to stick the best producers, and it is great to have a real specialist merchant who loves the area, carefully selecting wines. Domaine Direct does so for both famous estates and some real over-performing gems from under-rated corners of the territory.
  

white wines

André Bonhomme (France) Viré-Clessé 2004
If you search wine-pages archives you will find glowing tasting notes on André Bonhomme's wines going back for a decade. Indeed, the 2002 vintage of this cuvée was a 'wine of the month'. I never cease to be delighted by this wine: the nose is just lovely: a limpid, honeyed melange of lime, butter, herbs and ripe orchard fruits, with a subtle sheen of gently toasty oak. On the palate this is both racy and opulent: that weight of quite buttery, ripe, mouthfilling pear and melon fruit has plenty of sweetness and succulence, yet a razor sharp core of mineral and lemon zest acidity zips through the mid-palate and balances sweet fruit and a touch of smoky, vanillin oak in the finish. Absolutely delightful, and excellent white Burgundy. £10.55

Laurent Tribut (France) Chablis 2003
If there is one thing Chablis is known for it is its crispness and elegant acidity. So how did Laurent Tribut's wine fair in the roasting hot conditions of 2003? Very well: the nose is subtly honeyed and nutty, but it shows pristine fruit character of juicy apple and pear, with a touch of minerality. Presumably Tribut picked early to avoid over ripening, because although this wine is fairly rich and powerful, it has retained hallmark notes of minerality and a decisive acid structure amongst orchard fruit and racy citrus flavours. A lingering, well-balanced Chablis, and very impressive. Very good indeed/excellent. £10.92.

Jean-Marc Boillot (France) Rully 1er Cru Les Cloux 2004
Boillot is another terrific grower in Burgundy, based in Pommard in the Côte de Beaune. Rully is another of those southern appellations that can often offer outstanding value, and this wine is no exception. From the 1er Cru 'Les Cloux', this wine displays a lot more new oak than the previous two whites, but it is very stylishly done with aromas of hot buttered toast and a touch of vanilla over ripe, concentrated peach and apple fruit. On the palate this wine has real presence: there is a mouthfilling weight of ripe, crisp orchard fruits all streaked with a lemony freshness, and a solid underpinning of creamy, gently toasty oak that acts like a softening pillow through the mid palate. But then the acidity starts to bite, and a chewy note of fat, lemony fruit and a certain minerality completes an elegant, yet savoury and juicy picture. What a very nice wine this is, and excellent. £12.81

red wines

Domaine Pivot (France) Beaujolais Villages 2005
In a good Beaujolais year, Pivot has produced a wine with a rich, deep crimson colour and an absolutely classic nose. This is a fairly 'serious' style, with a touch of briar and minerals and a finely tuned, vinous cherry and black fruit. On the palate there's a big, broad stripe of dry tannins and a very savoury, almost liquorice edge to quite refined fruit in a wine that is decisive and robust with a spicy, firm finish. Very good indeed. £6.82

Domaine Bersan (France) Irancy 2003
Irancy is the red wine from the area around Chablis in the north of Burgundy, whose Pinot Noirs are well regarded. This has a really lovely, fragrant nose with a perfume of spices and clove, some floral notes, and abundant soft, strawberry fruit. It really is very charming indeed. On the palate the sweet cherry and strawberry pulp fruit floods across the palate, with terrific ripeness in this hot year. There is a drying edge of acidity, and fine tannins and a little touch of warming, smoky oak to fill and soften the finish. Delightful and totally convincing Burgundy on a charmingly small scale. Excellent. £9.39

Domaine Tollot-Beaut (France) Chorey-lès-Beaune 2004
Tollot-Beaut's Chorey-lès-Beaune has been one of my good value Burgundy bankers for years. Now in very smart, modern packaging, the wine has a terrific nose, redolent of red cherry, and cranberries with lots of spice and smoky, coffeeish aromas and a hint of damp, earthy leaves and forest floor. On the palate this is bold and chewy, with plenty of crisp-edged, ripe red fruit but all the time that chunky, charry background and touch of slightly green, mentholy character, and rustic tannins adding grip and savoury dryness to the finish. A characterful and very flavoursome Burgundy and very expressive. This will cellar and improve for many years if you can resist opening it now. Very good indeed/excellent. £16.21