Corton 'Clos du Roi' Grand Cru, Bourgogne, 2004. Domaine Thenard.
Burgschnauzer.com: "The top section of Clos du Roi, where Thenard's vines are located, is considered superior to the lower portion of the vineyard and produces one of the more underrated grand crus in Burgundy. Thenard’s Clos du Roi tends to be a backward, tannic wine in its youth, but after several years it softens into a profound wine"
The Thenard family has owned land in Givry since 1760. For the past several decades their estate, Domaine Thenard, has sold most of its production to the negociant Maison Roland Remoissenet. Wine had always been bottled under the Thenard label for private customers such as Charles de Gaulle and the Pope, but Remoissenet requested that the estate wines not be sold to the U.S. market. In 2005, Remoissenet was sold to a group of North American investors and the Thenard estate decided to begin bottling more wine under the domaine label.
Despite being virtually unknown in the U.S., Domaine Thenard has been famous in Burgundy for over a century. Baron Paul Thenard founded the estate in 1842 and thirty years later he completed a transaction that would put it on the map. In 1872, the Baron acquried two large parcels in Le Montrachet, totaling 1.86 hectares. Only the Marques de Laguiche, with their single parcel of 2.06 hectares, own more. In comparison, the third largest owner of Montrachet is Bouchard Pere et Fils with 0.89 hectares. In the 20th century, the grand cru vineyards Clos du Roi in Corton and Les Grands Echezeaux in Flagey were added to the portfolio. These vineyard acquisitions made Thenard one of the most important estates in Burgundy, yet the heart of the domaine remained in the humble village of Givry.
The village of Givry, just south of Mercurey, has enjoyed a long reputation for making wine, particularly vin rouge. Domaine Thenard, whose deep, 18th century cellar is located in the center of the village, owns land in several of Givry’s best sites. The domaine's largest holding is in the premier cru Les Bois Cheveaux (7.66 ha.), which tends to show slightly more power than the Givry premier cru Cellier Aux Moines (3.22 ha.). Also in Givry is the premier cru Clos Saint-Pierre (2.12 ha.). This vineyard, which is a monopole of the estate, produces the most structured, age worthy Givry.
Thenard also owns fine holdings in the northern part of the Cote de Beaune. In Pernand Vergelesses, the domaine has a plot in the village’s finest vineyard, Illes des Verglesses(0.85 ha.). Right next door, on the hill of Corton, sits a prime parcel in the great Clos du Roi (0.9 ha.). The top section of Clos du Roi, where Thenard's vines are located, is considered superior to the lower portion of the vineyard and produces one of the more underrated grand crus in Burgundy. Thenard’s Clos du Roi tends to be a backward, tannic wine in its youth, but after several years it softens into a profound wine. The Grands Echezeaux (0.54 ha) bottled by the estate often starts out with a very subtle bouquet, but it develops into a wave of red, spicy fruit. On the palate, the fruit sweetens with time and shows great class.
Three white wines are made at Domaine Thenard. Givry blanc is rarely seen, as most of the villages production is devoted to vin rouge, but Thenard’s mineral driven cuvee is a wonderful example. Far richer and more complex is the Chassagne-Montrachet, 1er Cru, Clos Saint-Jean (0.17 ha. in Les Rebichets), which is actually made from vines in Les Rebichets. The show stopper is, of course, the Le Montrachet (1.83 ha.). In addition to owning a huge portion of this vineyard, the domaine is also blessed with old vines. The individual parcels were planted between 1931 and 1972. The resulting wine is deep in color and has an strong bouquet of white flowers and spicy oak. In the mouth, the wine is immense, but not heavy. A wave of minerals lurks in the background and keeps the wine from weighing down the palate. Thenard's Montrachet is truly a great wine.
Baron Jean-Baptiste Bordeaux-Montrieux, whose branch of the family is from the Val de Loire, has been in charge of the winemaking since the early 1980’s. The approach is very traditional and the wines have a firmness and rusticisty that reflect that style. In past years, Remoissenet would have the first choice of barrels to take back to their facility in Beaune, but now the Baron holds back the top cuvees for the estate. The wines sold under the Remoissenet label were not held in the highest esteem, but the cuvees purchased from Thenard often stood out. In his description of Remoissenet, Clive Coates (The Wines of Burgundy, University of California Press, Berkeley, 2008) wrote “the firm distributes the wines of Domaine Baron Thenard and these – Le Montrachet, Corton Clos du Roi, Grands Echezeaux – are often the best.” More wine will be bottled under the Thenard in the future as the estate expands its export markets. Long one of the most important landowners in the Cote d’Or, Domaine Thenard is becoming a producer on par with the great estates of Burgundy.