2015 Domaine Jessiaume Auxey Duresses Blanc Les Ecusseaux 1er Cru
Auxey-Duresses (ox-ssay due-ress) despite sitting as it does between the appellations of Meursault to the south and Volnay to the north, suffers from an identity crisis. Its vines, both red and white, still don’t fetch nearly the same premium as its neighbors and its wines remain relatively unknown and undervalued. The better for us, I say. ‘Undervalued’ and ‘Burgundy’ are seldom mentioned in the same sentence! But a great Auxey can provide the same richness, complex aromatics and mineral spine as the best of either its neighbors, but, because its available vineyard land is so much less and its ownership far more splintered than just about anywhere else in the Cote, it’s a lot harder to find them. Domaine Jessiaume, from nearby Santenay, owns all of a quarter of a hectare in an organically farmed, vertical-running parcel (that’s 250 square meters) of 30-year old Chardonnay vines in the Ecussaux cru, a Premier Cru with one of the best exposures in the appellation. Jessiaume’s vines produce all of three barrels; that’s 72 cases, or, if you’re counting, a mere 864 bottles from this holding!
Jessiaume’s American winemaker and managing director Megan McClune, part of the small group of passionate partners who purchased and resurrected the ancient cellars here, barrel ferments and ages the Chardonnay in oak (one third of which are new) creating a wine with a broad palate, rich with buttery sautéed apples, hazelnut skin, jasmine flower and, of course, the Cote’s hallmark mineral finish. And don’t underestimate the wine’s staying power either. I was surprised at the wine’s great acidity and oomph. Drink now with a nicely aged Epoisse from Burgundy, a filet of grilled halibut with tarragon butter or a chicken roasted with herbs and lemon. I think it will continue to improve over the next few years and certainly keep a lot longer. Very highly recommended.