Birthday Wine: Domaine Jafflin “Le Coteau des Bois” Nuits-Saint-Georges

A bottle from a tiny lieu-dit in Nuits-Saint-Georges reminded me what wine's truly made from.

Jafflin Nuit-Saint-Georges Les Coteau des Bois 2011

 

2011 Domaine Jafflin “Le Coteau des Bois” Nuits-Saint-Georges AOP
13% abv | €21 (at the producer)

 

3 July 2014
Nuits-Saint-Georges, Côte-d’Or, France

We descend into Jafflin’s cave, blinking away the sharp daylight and inhaling the cellar’s redolence. Anne Jafflin pours tastings from bottles marked with grease crayon: Gevrey-Chambertin, Vosne-Romanée, Nuits-Saint-Georges. These are villages wines, because while the Jafflins do produce two premiers crus, none currently languish in their cellar; this sad shortage is replicated throughout Burgundy following a series of meager vintages, plus far more demand than supply.

“Les Coteaux des Bois” is not a premier cru, Anne explains, just a field near the hillside whose fruit they vinify separately. They selected this lieu-dit in 2010 for its particulars of aspect and location, and its bony brown calcareous soil, which makes the vines struggle.  

The wine was velvety, with spiced fruits and ginger, cured meat, cherries, iron and stone. We bought a bottle, just one, to carry home with us. It was not the most spectacular wine we tasted in Burgundy, but it was a bell, ringing with the resonance of its place.

 

20 December 2014
Lyme, New Hampshire, United States

Snow falls as evening begins to whisper around us. We light a fire and light the candles. It is the eve of my birthday, and I have called for Burgundy.

We opened this bottle and poured. It smelled like carrots—no, like carrot tops, both carrot fronds and the carrot’s flesh that turns deep green when it is sun-soaked.

Then the wine began to change: Two minutes, five minutes, and now it smells like beets—both sweet and earthy, red and black. Ten minutes, and now there are cherries, too.

But fruit was not the wine’s central proposition. It tasted instead as if my summer vegetable garden, fully ripened, had been wrung into my glass, with all its herbs and sweetness, its tomato vine freshness and black-raspberry brambles, its red pepper savoriness, its mint and sage and thyme; its soil.

It was a reminder: Wine may be made from fruit, but it is born from earth. Happy Birthday.

 

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