Wine Delights: A Superb Relatively Unknown Burgundy

Millman introduces Clos de Perrière which was one of only six vineyards in Fixin to be ranked Premier Cru.
by Robert Millman

Domaine Joliet 2018 Fixin Clos de La Perriere     94 

“A superb, relatively unknown Burgundy”: The wine in question is the Fixin Clos de la Perrière, a vineyard founded by Cistercian Monks in the 12th Century. The great Dr. Lavalle in his 1855 private classification of the wines of the Cote D’Or Classified the vineyard as a Tête de Cuvée, the highest rating in his system. He specifically noted the extraordinary longevity of its wines. In the 1936 official classification of Burgundy, the Clos de Perrière was one of only six vineyards in Fixin to be ranked Premier Cru.

There are several reasons why the Clos de la Perrière languished in relative obscurity for many decades: one was the indifference of the market to the wines of Fixin which until recently were regarded as inferior version of Gevrey Chambertins. The other is that until 2005 or so, the wines coming from this splendid vineyard were made with indifference. All that began to change when Benigne Joliet bought out the rest of his family and began running the estate with the passion and commitment its superior location richly deserved. Joliet hired Philippe Charlopin as consultant during the first few vintages of his full ownership of the neglected vineyard. My first experience with the wine was the 2010 which I tasted at an industry event in 2014. I recall being stunned by the depth and inner focus of this dark beauty—especially in contrast to a group of fruitier, more modern Côte de Nuits Burgundies from more well-known producers and vineyards. To verify my first impression, I returned to wine several more times during the tasting. It was no mistake on my part: The Clos de la Perrière is the very essence of a terroir -driven northern Burgundy.

More recently, at a restaurant in New York I was dining in, I noticed the 2018 on the list. The 2018 was a very warm vintage producing wines with considerable richness and glossy tannins. Not having yet tasted the wine, I was only too happy to order the bottle. My friend Ed Kasselman with whom I have shared hundreds of wines over the past 20 years was delighted to taste a notable Burgundy for the first time. The truly noir color at the center of the wine is in fact a hallmark feature of the Clos de la Perrière; and this is one instance where appearance is indeed prologue to bouquet and taste. The Clos de la Perrière is one of those deep, glowering wines which pulls the taster into the glass rather than greeting the taster outside the glass. Such wines demand the taster’s full attention—which they reward with inner qualities that can be quite remarkable. The nose of the 2018 captured the dark fruits and ferrous minerality which good Fixins share in common with Gevrey Chambertins. It is a bouquet which invites repeated inhalation. Centered and intense, it is the kind of aroma which is of great appeal to me. On the palate, the wine was rich without a sense of sweetness. The fruit seemed to be an extension of the terroir rather than a separate dimension of the wine: This is a wine which you meet on its terms. Once you understand what is happening you adapt to the wines’ profundity and self-sufficiency. I have a rather basic criterion for determining how much I appreciate a wine: How many times to I enjoy re-experiencing it. If I find a wine more interesting on the 10th sip than first few, I know how much I like it. The Clos de la Perrière is a remarkable Burgundy. It may lack the generosity and expansiveness of the finest Grand Crus, but within its singular, dark-toned intensity, it is an experience not to be missed. Drinking window: now- 2040.

Robert Millman

Robert Millman’s wine career began in the early 1980s, when he began working from Morrell & Company, one of the USA’s top wine retailers. During that time, he co-founded Executive Wine Seminars (EWS) with Howard Kaplan, which over the years became one of NYC’s most highly regarded wine events companies. EWS organized and conducted over 1000 wine events during its prestigious thirty-three year history. High points included Robert Parker being a regular guest presenter at the tastings, and through 2011, the results of the tastings were published on the Wine Advocate website. Having reached an age where taking a step back from the wear and tear of life in the wine fast lane made sense, Millman currently enjoys being a taster and wine writer for Grapes the Wine Company, an excellent, leading e-retailer based in Westchester (NY). 

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Robert Millman