It’s best, really, to ask someone who knows their stuff, and for over 25 years Domaine Direct has specialised in domaine-bottled wine. That is, wine bottled in the domaine of the person who made it (and quite probably who grew it), not something blended by a merchant. As a result, it has a selection of highly individual wines that inspire anything but cloth-tongued indifference, and at fair prices.
Often described as a “minefield” for the wine buyer, Burgundy has been on a roll recently…but it remains essential to stick to the best producers, and it is great to have a real specialist merchant who loves the area, carefully selecting wines. Domaine Direct does so for both famous estates and some real over-performing gems from underrated corners of the territiory.
Domaine Direct is one of the finest Burgundy specialists in the country and if you are remotely serious about wine then you should be on their mailing list.
Sensational Burgundy list; prices are very reasonable for the quality. Also a full range from Western Australia star Leeuwin Estate.
Domaine Direct is an admirable, relatively small London wine merchant specialising in importing and distributing high-quality wine, mainly but not exclusively French. Burgundy is a speciality, not least because of the expertise of co-founder Simon Taylor-Gill who has spent much of his life there. the company is run by another Burguny (and Beaujolais) fanatic Hilary Gibbs whom I run into every now and then at Coche-Dury (Domaine Direct is bracnché). Since its inception in 1981 Domaine Direct has added various top-quality wines from California, South Africa and Australia, including being UK importer fro Leeuwin Estate.
Leeuwin Estate Reviews
Prelude Vineyards Chardonnay 2008: A second label to most producers’ best; fragrant white peach and grapefruit aromas and flavours drive the wine, having soaked up the barrel ferment oak in the process; long, complete and perfectly balanced.
Art Series Shiraz 2008: 94 points – The fragrant bouquet of spicy red fruits is closely tracked on the light to medium-bodied palate that is all about finesse, line and length, the red cherry fruit with spicy nuances, the oak reserved.
Art Series Cabernet Sauvignon 2006: The Leeuwin cabernets are really hitting their stride since the pivotal 2004 vintage. Smoky red and black fruit aromas, hints of undergrowth and fresh earth; soft mellow palate with ample ripe tannins, gently rounded and savoury, with elegance and balance.
Prelude Vineyards Cabernet Merlot 2005: Aromas of blackcurrant, cherry, liqorice and tobacco, complicated by a subtle mineral quality. Sweet, smooth and fairly full on the palate, showing ripe red-and black-currant and cherry flavours. Elegant in a Bordeaux style, with silky tannins and good mineral snap. Finishes with a strong echo of red fruits and a sexy floral note. 90 points.
Art Series Riesling 2009: 89 points - Revealing pronounced aromas of lime leaves, yuzu zest, passion fruit and warm grapefruit. Crisp, light to medium bodied, fully dry and elegant, it gives a long steely finish.
Art Series Sauvignon Blanc 2010: This is my kind of sauvignon blanc. It has all the requisite zingy freshness with some tropical fruit and more on the citrus spectrum. This has texture, with lemon pith and zest notes matched to an almost chalky acidity but it is crisp, with pine-needle freshness. A seriously delicious wine.
Art Series Chardonnay 2007: Firmer and tighter than last year’s ’06, 2007 Art Series Chardonnay seems to have all of the attributes required to make it a must-have wine for any Chardonnay lover. There is finesse here and layers of fruit which peel away gently to reveala a golden core. It is a crime to drink it early, but we don’t mind a little flirting with the law!
Chorey-les-Beaune 2010, Domaine Tollot-Beaut: Spicy, red cherry and frangipane. Very fresh with zesty energy and crunchy tannins. 15 points. 3 star rating.
Mullineux Syrah 2010: South African reds have come on enormously. It’s now possible to find any number of bottles without the telltale fag-ash-and-burnt-rubber quality that marred so many in the past. One of the most impressive of the Cape new wave is Mullineux, and this is a stunning red by any measure: spicy, silky and shot through with blackberry.
Monthelie 2009, Roblet-Monnot: With the Glorious Twelfth just around the corner, I thought you might like to indulge your palate this week. Pinot Noir is the definitive grape variety to combine with epic, flighted game and I have found one of the most seductive and great value wines imaginable. As regular readers will know, I am a pinot freak, and quite a few pop up on this page, but this Domaine has never graced MoneyWeek’s column and this is because, although Roblet-Monnot is a cult winery in France, it is little known over here. But not for too long I venture! Pascal Roblet is a sensational winemaker with a velvety touch and his wines have amplitude on the palate which is gained by depth of fruit and not by oak or excessive concentration. In short, the wines are aromatically heavenly, ethereal and seductive – everything that red Burgundy should engender. Roblet lives in Volnay and his St-Francois cuvée is a dreamboat that I buy every year. The trick with my chosen Monthelie is that this lesser-known postcode doesn’t attract the big price tag which his Volnays do, so here you manage to get some change from a 20!
Mâcon-Loché 2010, Domaine Cordier: There was a time, not long ago, when you’d go to Mâcon for a cheap white Burgundy, accepting that it wouldn’t taste like the smart stuff. Now an increasing number of producers are making fantastically smart wine – more expensive, sure, but half the price of decent Meursault. In fact, this tastes like Meursault: a lovely, savoury sausage-meat and oatmeal aroma and a flavour of cashews and oatmeal, peaches and Cox’s apples just dabbed with lemon juice.
Château La Haye 2009: Restrained aromas suggesting a fine depth, offering black fruit, chocolate and earth. Smooth and substantial entry with a refined thickness on the mid-palate. Very Cabernet and very elegant with lots of class and great future. Fab! 18.75pts/20 (95+pts/100)
Mullineux White 2011, Mullineux Wines: From one of the standout producers in South Africa’s Swartland region, an intense and complex dry white blend that marries chenin blanc with viognier and others to make an exceptionally classy wine.
Fleurie Clos de la Roilette Cuvée Tardive 2011 Coudert: This is stunning. Quite dark crimson. Unlike so much Beuajolais, it smells of really intense, ripe Gamay and has real mineral (granite) bite. It’s ridiculously gulpable already but clearly has a great future too. Not a hint of hasty fermentation. Freshness and fruitiness incarnate. Yum, yum, yum. 17 points
Côte de Brouilly Clos Bertrand 2010, Château Thivin: Juicy, light and refreshing red fruit are the hallmarks of most Beaujolais, a red wine that generally makes most sense served from the fridge in the summer months. THis very superior bottling is a rather more serious proposition , however. It still has all that charming fruit, but there’s a bit more weight and an earthy charm here which works beautifully with grilled duck breast.
Rudera De Tradisie Chenin Blanc 2009: Mid honey straw colour. Both rich and tangy – light years from basis Chenin. Honeyed nose with lots of interesting green vegetation here. Surely these are particularly old vines? Lots of interest but a fresh, dry finish. I would imagine this will age especially well. 16.5 points
Pernand-Vergelesses 1er cru Les Combettes 2010 Domaine Rapet Père et Fils: I actually tasted this chez Marks & Spencer where it was one of the most outstanding wines in their selection – but it costs considerably more at M&S than ordered from Domaine Direct (where, admittedly, you have to buy at least 12 assorted bottles). Very satisfying with just a trace of oak but masses of Côte d’Or character. Really racy and bone dry but not skinny. Anyone would surely love this. 17 points.