Old Fashioned Prices
These are like throw-back prices, to the times when 1er cru Burgundies were a modest premium over their village counterparts and the grand crus just a small increment above that. Yes, we can thank the suspension of the 25% import tariff last week and yes, we have a particularly good connection to work through here, but heart of the tremendous value in this offer is the refreshing modesty, not only of this historic and excellent domaine, but also the entire grand cru of Corton and its myriad individual climats.
False Comparisons Obscure True Appreciation
The hill of Corton is like an isolated beacon, sectioned from the rest of the Cote de Beaune by the pulsating A6 autoroute that cascades down the Cote just to the south, and to the north, it is separated by 5 miles of broken hillside and the town of Nuits St Georges from the rest of the Cote d'Or's grand cru reds, which run in a thin, almost uninterrupted line from Vosne-Romanee to Gevrey-Chambertin. While Corton comprises the only designated grand crus for red on the entire Cote de Beaune, they rarely get much credit for that, instead they are compared and considered a poor-relation to the aristocratic grand crus of the Cote de Nuits to the north.
The contrast in hype, prestige and price has never been more stark than it is now. Yet the ground itself remains unchanged; Corton remains the source of true grand cru quality and character, despite the changes in fashion.
The absurdity of the price difference between grand cru Corton and the grand crus of the Cote de Nuits is best illustrated by the (relatively) recent intrusion of the Domaine de la Romanee Conti, with their adoption of the old Prince de Merode holdings in some of Corton's finest climats. DRC's Corton, (a blend that is not even a single cru designate) is based largely on Merode's Clos du Roi and Bressandes. These are the same crus offered here from Dubreuil Fontaine. The difference in quality is debatable, but the difference in price is dramatic: you can buy a case of Dubreuil Fonaine for the price of a single bottle of the DRC.
If you visit the vineyard, the rows line up pretty uniformly and neatly regardless of their proprietor, and whatever fairly-dust lives on the walls of DRC's cellar, it is very hard to reconcile that remarkable price discrepancy... we won't even consider the name 'Leroy.'
Scores and Critics: Making Nonsense out of Sense?
What we have here is a failure to communicate.
A full rant about the 100 point scale (particularly in application to Burgundy) would be a long essay if not an entire book, and certainly beyond the space or ambition of this offer, but the squeeze that Corton producers find themselves in is lamentable. Precisely because of the false comparisons referred to above, their their wines are pushed into a sort of twilight zone, where their scores mean nothing. Grand Cru Corton lives in a narrow band between 91 and 95 points, that's it. It's some kind pf passing grade, yet it defines them as second rate, with a glass ceiling that they can never break through. In short, the scores you see here are more or less exactly what good Corton should score, it says little about the objective qualities of the wine. And if you want 97 points, get ready to spend ten times the money.
Burgundy attracts a wealth of highly experienced and qualified writers, and while we can blame these critics for the attractive nuisance of the 100 point scale, they do have a value in their capacity as wine-lovers and aficionados and their opinions are worthy of attention.
Despite our reservations, we are happy to publish their output and urge you to make use of their text above all, as an experienced opinion about the wine. With regards to the score though, take it with a grain of salt.
Dubreuil Fonaine is one of those well established domaines (5th generation) whose roots go deep and sway with the fashion rather than getting up and running with it. They produce exemplary Cortons from their two flagship vineyards as well as a good Pommard Epenots, also offered here, and lovely smaller wines right down the range. They have never been flashy, but that's not really what you want from Burgundy in these warming years. Christine Dubreuil knows her terroir and express it well. Her wines are a clear and very good choice for anyone looking to line their cellar with good Burgundy without chasing the big names with the big prices. They are Burgundy-drinkers' Burgundies. We are happy to recommend them very highly.
Wines are due to arrive in the tariff-free window of the next 4 months
Corton Clos du Roi Grand Cru 2019 - $79
91-93 Wine Advocate - "The 2019 Corton-Bressandes Grand Cru has a perfumed bouquet of blackberry, briar, undergrowth and light oyster shell aromas. The palate is medium-bodied with fine-grained tannins, a slightly chalky texture and a finely delineated, expressive finish. This is a classy offering that should age with style." -Neal Martin
Corton Clos du Roi Grand Cru 2018 - $79
92 Burghound - "Here too there is a subtle touch of menthol to be found on the more elegant yet distinctly ripe liqueur-like nose of black cherry, black raspberry and pretty spice nuances. The less concentrated but finer medium-bodied flavors evidence an abundance of minerality on the moderately structured finish. This too will need to add depth with time in bottle and my rating assumes that will occur." -Allen Meadows
Corton Bressandes Grand Cru 2018 - $79
91-94 Burghound - "Aromas of forest floor, earth, dark berries and the sauvage are trimmed in hints of oak and menthol. There is fine underlying tension to the voluminous and tautly muscular large-scaled flavors that coat the palate on the firm, youthfully austere and powerful finish. This is a big and decidedly firm Bressandes but it's not so compact to prevent it from being approachable after only 6 to 8 years. " -Allen Meadows
Pommard Epenots 1er Cru 2018 - $69
91-93 Burghound - "Reduction presently overshadows the underlying fruit. More interesting are the rich, velvety, indeed almost opulent, flavors that possess a suave mouthfeel that contrasts moderately with the beautifully complex, long and decidedly firm finale. This fine Epenots is one to consider provided you intend to allow it at least 5-ish plus years of cellar time." -Allen Meadows