Recent vintages in Burgundy suggest good times ahead.

Domaine François Lumpp

François and Isabelle Lumpp operate a 9ha domaine in the Côte Chalonnaise village of Givry. The production is heavily skewed towards pinot noir, with 7.5ha of the grape planted across the appellation, much of which sits in the Premier Cru sites. Givry has emerged as a reliable source of flavourful and, in the case of producers like Lumpp, detailed and terroir-driven pinot noir. These wines are also more accessible price-wise than those of the Côte d’Or and more elegantly defined than they are in nearby Mercurey.

The Lumpp domaine farms in the ‘lutte raisonnée’ style – a popular middle ground between conventional and organic farming – that promotes biodiversity and minimises chemical intervention. The pinots are made in a style that pursues purity. All plots are hand-harvested, and all pinot is completely de-stemmed before fermentation in stainless steel vats and then élevage in a quite high (70%) proportion of new barriques.

The warm and ripe 2018 vintage has delivered a very rich brand of pinot noir across all Burgundy and raised the base line of every appellation.

Lumpp’s 2018 pinots are deeply coloured, richly fruited and concentrated wines that carry a considerable weight of fruit and tannin. But these are also carefully toned wines with layered and complete palate structures. The result is a style of pinot that is so impressively flavourful now and will also age well for
a decade, maybe more.

And don’t overlook his chardonnay; Lumpp has been a keen advocate for chardonnay in Givry’s pinot-dominant world.

The 2018 Givry 1er Cru Crausot (A$135) offers a complex nose with abundant savoury and spicy elements of leaves and dried cherries as well as violet and forest wood. The palate is silky and delivers a creamy tannin texture that exudes spiced cherry fruit flavours and a pure, silky and elegant finish. Drink over the next five years. 92 points.

From the domaine’s largest holding (2.45ha), the 2018 Givry 1er Cru A Vigne Rouge (A$135) is a bold and deeply coloured pinot with ripe dark plum aromas. Resplendent with cherry fruit essence, it has some chocolate and dark toasted spice oak elements, too. The palate has a very convincing delivery of ripe dark cherry fruit flavour with crisp and gently assertive tannins holding powerful sway. I like the boldness here, however, the wine is still fresh and it has excellent concentration. Drink or hold. 93 points.

Domaine Jean-Marc Bouley

Drinkability is arguably the greatest overarching character of the 2017 vintage reds in Burgundy but it is not a word that is always used when describing Volnay.

But the 2017 wines of Domaine Jean-Marc Bouley are an exception and possess a level of finesse that is perhaps something more attuned to the great reds of the Côte de Nuits.

Since Thomas Bouley assumed the day-to-day responsibilities of running the domaine from his father Jean-Marc in 2012, these wines have evolved considerably, and Bouley has created a repertoire of modern styles underpinned by pure vineyard quality. Soils are ploughed manually and no herbicides or pesticides are used across the domaine’s 9ha of holdings.

The wines have an energetic and focused feel, and possess impressive concentration and balance, even in the humble Bourgogne level wines.

Thomas Bouley has brought Volnay into the 21st century.
Thomas Bouley has brought Volnay into the 21st century.

The 2017 Thomas Bouley Bourgogne Rouge (A$58) sees little in the way of new oak (just 10%) and is impressively sleek, fresh and studded with mainly red cherry fruits. The balance and drinkability is really something, certainly this is incredible value. Drink now. 90 points.

The 2017 Volnay (A$125) is similarly drinkable, and offers a deeper breadth of tannin and a very complete and neatly toned palate. Aromas and flavours are very much in the red cherry zone with a floral, violet-tinged edge and a thread of oak spice. Such engaging power and elegance is quite entrancing, and the palate holds very long and fresh. An amalgam of five plots, this wine sees 25% new oak. Drink or hold. 92 points.

Darker tones define the 2017 Volnay Vieilles Vignes (A$145) with some earthy edges to the nose which is packed with ripe dark cherry fruit aromas as well as blueberry, shiitake mushroom, iodine and intense violet. The palate has striking depth and tannins are a feature with fine-grained layers the build impressively on the finish. Dark cherry and plum flavours hold the finish long, this is very youthful and will cellar so well. There’s a final surge of fresh acidity too. This is a blend of four plots with an average vine age of 50 years. Drink or hold. 93 points.

And the 2017 Volnay 1er Cru Clos des Chênes (A$245) is from a parcel at the top of the south-east-facing slope, and shows keenly tuned quality and detail. This is a stellar pinot that has aromas of raspberry, red cherry, blueberry, violet and subtly herbal notes too. The 50% new oak is completely subsumed by pinot fruit. The palate has an attractively sapid freshness that holds long into the red and dark cherry-flavoured finish. So silky and drinkable now, this will also age so well. 94 points.

Jane Eyre

Australian winemaker Jane Eyre has been making steady headway in Australia and France as her pursuit of making pinot noir in both hemispheres has taken shape across the past decade. Having made small amounts of wine on the side of holding down a full-time day job at Domaine Newman, Eyre devoted all energy to her own ‘micro-négoce’ operation in 2019 and has continued to make wine in Australia with the assistance of friends and colleagues.

Eyre has bravely blazed a trail into the notoriously closed shop of Burgundy and has now made critical history in French media. The 2021 La Revue du Vin de France has awarded her the Négociant of the Year Award, an award that is hotly contested by some of the most established winemaking businesses in France.

“It’s a big deal for me as it means I’m chosen over all the bigger boys like Jadot, Guigal, and so on.” Eyre says. “I never thought for a moment I could win as I’m tiny compared to the rest. I know I’m the first female to win and I think I’m the first foreigner. Definitely the first Australian!”

I’ve long admired Eyre’s wines and determination to make her mark in Burgundy – and both her French and Australian wines have featured in this column. The Jane Eyre wines are available in Australia via Libby Bentley of the Bentley Wine Company.