Domaine Tawse, Nuits St Georges, by Paul Thomas
The wine making facilities of Domaine Tawse are in Nuits St Georges, Burgundy, but our story starts in Gevrey Chambertin. It was in Gevrey in 2012 that Morey Tawse, a Canadian businessman, seized the opportunity to acquire the estate of Bernard Maume, whose family have been in the village since 1850. It was an astute purchase. The vines, in some spectacularly good locations, were not performing of their best, but only needed some tender loving care to unleash their true potential! Enter the Chris Froome of the Cote de Nuits (aka English wine maker Mark Fincham), recruited by Moray (pure genius) to put the estate back at the top of the Gevrey Premier League.
The first step was to get rid of the ‘treatments’ (a misnomer if ever there was one!), allowing the freshness and vitality of the Burgundy Pinot to express itself free of chemical contamination. And each year the results just get better. Now the wines are truly outstanding - the 2015 Mazis Chambertin earning 96 points from Neil Martin.
Our photo shoot was on 15 September 2017 in the vineyard Lavaux St Jacques, one of Gevrey's great 1er Crus, alongside Clos St Jacques. The vendangeurs come from Czech - they regularly pick for Domaine Tawse, and are notable for their beautiful voices in the vineyard (and at the post harvest celebrations!) - music and wine - one enhances the senses, and the other enhances the enhancement! Bravo!!
The bunches of grapes are put into crates and driven back to the winery in Nuits. Here they pass over a sorting table to remove any that are not perfectly healthy, and are then put through a machine that removes the stems, and from there into the vat. The decision to de-stem or not, is an important stage in the process. It is the first opportunity after the grapes leave the vines, for the winemaker to make an impact on the style of the end product.
Work in the Cuve
Once the fruit is in the vat, after a while, the temperature will start to rise, as the grapes start to ferment. There is no need to add chemical yeast, as the yeast on the skins of the grapes is perfectly adequate for the purpose. At 15 degrees, the mix will start to ferment. If the weather is cooler, the temperature will rise more gradually. Allowing nature to take its course in the vat, means there is more opportunity for a gentle extraction of colour and tannins from the skins, pips and stems, and a harmonious integration of the tannins into the juice. The 2016 Mazis Chambertin was in the vat for almost a month before it was pressed.
Making the Wine
The period of alcoholic fermentation is when the winemaker creates his style of wine. Repeated and vigorous movement of the contents of the vat will increase the extraction, darken the colour of the juice, and risk too much tannin, which does not fully integrate into the wine. There is no pre written script - every action is dictated by the state of the pulp, which Mark regularly tests in the age old fashion. While the temperature continues to rise towards 30 degrees, the contents of the vat are evaluated, with some gentle pumping over and pushing down, but the main reliance is on the natural extraction process which occurs from the contact between the warming juice and the developing alcohol.
The estate has a significant range of wines, however our focus is on the wines from plots in Gevrey, and a very good Beaune Teurons. In 2107 a natural wine (no sulphur added) was produced from grapes in Savigny les Beaune on a plot called Laviere. The result is superb - wonderful fruit, presently a little restrained, but well integrated, and nice to drink but will develop over the next few years.
Wines from Gevrey
Gevrey Chambertin Les Roncevies
Gevrey Chambertin En Champs
Gevrey Village (Purple Mustard)
Gevrey Chambertin En Pallud
Lavaux St Jacques 1er Cru
Gevrey Chambertin Champeaux 1er Cru
Gevrey Chambertin Fonteny 1er Cru
Gevrey Chambertin La Perriere 1er Cru
Charmes Chambertin Grand Cru
Mazis Chambertin Grand Cru