This is a very special wine from a very special person. We've know Róisín for many years and have been wowed by her focus and vision in running this amazing project, and the quality of her wines. We are very glad to be able to have some of these wines, in very small quantities.
The villages of the Cotes des Nuits read like a Michelin-starred wine list, and what's most incredible is that they appear, one after the other, as you drive from north to south.
This wine is taken from one of the most northerly villages in the Cote d'Or, Fixin, just south of Marsannay and Couchey and the next village to the north of Gevrey Chambertin. Two categories of wine are made here, Village-level and 1er Cru. The site that Róisín uses for this is nestled amongst the 1er Cru vineyards and is also the largest single site in the village.
The wine is gorgeous.
With a brooding and almost covered and reticent opening, there are smokey, flinty flavours that linger like a Burgundian morning mist; but after a short decant, this yields to a sweet berry palate with ample body, crunchy freshness and perfect balance. The fruit character opens and the clouds part, so to speak. Delicately and exquisitely made.
From a very warm vintage the grapes from this vintage were ripening earlier than normal, because of the early heat. However, as the heat cam before the sunshine hours that normally accompany it, there was a slight shift in the required light to ripen the skin colour of the Pinot Noir grapes. This meant that Róisín worked harder in the vineyard to ensure that all the sunshine that was available was being used, but also that the grapes didn't over-ripen on account of the extra heat. It's one of the factors of changing climate that can be directly measured, but that is not overtly bad: just different. The other challenge is water - though there was plenty of rainfall in 2019, it fell at the wrong time, in the winter when the vines don't need it. It's a changing landscape for sure, but one that Róisín and her neighbours are enduring for the time being.
Broadly speaking, Róisín gives her wines a very light fining and filtration in order to preserve the natural character of the grapes terroir as much as possible. Indeed, some of her wines are left completely unfiltered. For the winemaking itself, she uses concrete tanks or small vats for fermentation, but seldom made with new oak. In the vineyard at harvest, and in the winery, too, she does a massive amount of sorting of the grapes (called triage in the vineyard) which has sometimes reduced her potential output up to 50%, such is her determination for the best quality. The standards that she achieves has allowed her access to some of the best coopers and she now uses a mix of different barrel suppliers, buying more each of the last six harvests in which her wines have been made.
The grape suppliers for Róisín's wines are mostly all farming organically and the wine-making philosophy is very definitely hands-off and low-intervention, allowing for terroir and variety to shine. Regular trips to the region and long-term relationships with the growers allow for total control of the process, which again gives such scintillating quality. Certainly the reaction from the growers themselves is immensely positive and this has to be the highest form of praise one could wish to attain.
Róisín is not only a winemaker and micro-negotiant (which means that she buys the grapes rather than owning the vineyards), she is a full-time pharmacist in Ballyhaunis, County Mayo, and she is a Master of Wine.
Her enthusiasm for wine led to her turning a hobby into this incredible alternate life with, via lengthy studies that led her to work in Chateau Latour (yes, the Chateau Latour), Chateau Grillet in the Rhone, Geisenheim in the Rhein and Montpelier. A forensic characteristic is certainly the thing that comes to mind, yet not at the expense of being a jolly good person and a very friendly support.
Grape(s): Pinot Noir
Style: Soft, Smokey, Pure, Profound, Medium-Light, Iconic, Elegant, Complex, Bright, Balanced
Best food matches: Venison, Veal, Trout, Steak, Mature Cheeses, Lamb, Hard Cheeses, Game, Fine Dining, Christmas Dinner, Cheeses, Charcuterie, Casseroles, Beef