Domaine Garcia is an exciting estate, as readers of these columns know. They employ the baie-par-baie technique – hand-destemming of a third of the harvest – to make wines with unique floral qualities (see more about baie-par-baie vinification below).
The demand for Domaine Garcia wines is exploding, and my expectation is that prices will skyrocket within a short time. Grey-market prices are already showing large increases, just as we have seen at other top domaines with limited supply.
It’s therefore one of the estates I follow closely, as I have good connections to it and, besides, it’s just down the road from me in Nuits-Saint-Georges.
I do not, however, taste its wines that often, and my last tasting of the ’21s was just after the harvest in September last year.
Disclaimer: I am a mere mortal
To set the record straight: I worked the harvest at Domaine Garcia in 2021, as I wanted to do an entire harvest with baie-par-baie vinification, more or less from the first day to the end three weeks later.
I largely managed this heavy labour, and it gave me great insight into both the harvest and vinification processes. I got some generalised insight, but the 2021 vintage was complex after the spring frost, and it confirmed to me the respect one should have for vignerons. Some of them have done a fantastic job with the difficult 2021s.
Please remember, I’m merely a ‘Hog, and not an all-knowing expert like some others apparently populating parts of the wine business, so yes: I did the harvest at Domaine Garcia, and if you feel this disqualifies me from objectively appraising the wines, then ignore the rest of this article. Biased? Perhaps. But taste the wines yourself.
I am merely an old guy – that can make do with the best – and gets enjoyment from drinking a delicate yet simple vin de soif – Pinot Droit grown on SO4 rootstock.
I have written in-depth about Domaine Garcia before: see the 2020 article here, and the 2019 article here.
It appears hand-destemming – baie-par-baie and other variants – is becoming increasingly popular in Burgundy.
Pierre-Olivier Garcia employs a special technique whereby approximately a third of the berries for the wines are removed from the stems by hand, grape-by-grape, with a pair of scissors to ensure whole, undamaged berries for vinification. The result is the most delicate and beautiful berry caviar. It is also very time-consuming.
The share of baie-par-baie berries is currently fixed at around a third, as this is considered optimal. But it is possible to use less or more baie-par-baie if the vinification is adjusted accordingly, according to Garcia.
The baie-par-baie grapes are vinified with whole-cluster bunches and machine-destemmed berries. They are arranged in layers in the tank: whole clusters on the bottom, then baie-par-baie, and on top machine-destemmed berries. The layers are separated by CO2 to ensure the intracellular maceration starts in the two bottom layers of whole-cluster and baie-par-baie grapes.
The berries are kept cool until fermentation, and there is a short, cold, pre-fermentation in the tank, normally four days or slightly longer.
While the baie-par-baie method is unusual and time-consuming, the resulting wines are of indisputably exciting quality.
In my opinion, this technique encourages more highly perfumed aromas that are greatly detailed, with precise notes of roses and other floral components, giving a special, delicate complexity to these wines.
I have followed this method for some time, and the results are stunning, with tremendous phenolic complexity and variation, as the floral expression combines with the terroir and the vintage.
Beauty is on the palate of the beholder, though; I find these wines interesting and hedonistically expressive, but that’s me.
A lighter, less sunny year than previous vintages, 2021 of course influenced the character of the phenolics, and hence to a certain degree also the floral expression that is released via baie-par-baie fermentation.
New in this vintage are white and pink dog roses (rosa Canina), with aromas of both the flowers and the hips. The more lush, sweet red roses are not a part of all ’21 wines, being replaced by pink dog roses, which are a stronger element in the bouquet of the vintage, especially the flower’s slightly spicy note.
First up was the Domaine Garcia Aligoté 2021. This is a vivid, cool aligoté, as usual, from very old plants (80- to 100-year-old vines in Fixin). It has a slight fragility that sets it aside from the mighty 2020. The “on the lees” impression is currently more subdued than in previous vintages, and this lightens the expression. So, lighter, but – dare I say it? – more delicate. Delicacy is rarely expressed through points, but is closer to my heart.
(Drink from 2023) – Very Good (88p) – Tasted 13/06/2022 –
The Domaine Garcia Brouilly La Folie 2021 is from Beaujolais, thus gamay. It’s a big cuvee, and what I would call a return to the origins of Beaujolais. It’s cooler, with a more forward, charming style, and without the almost dense feeling of the previous two vintages. Yes, a lesser wine, but more of a vin de soif in my book. The complexity is different, with cooler phenolics that suit gamay.
(Drink from 2023) – Very Good (87-88p) – Tasted 13/06/2022 –
The Domaine Garcia Marsannay Clos du Roy 2021 is showing well, with a lighter and more delicately floral note than in previous years. In my view, Clos du Roy is a difficult vineyard to balance, and requires a light hand to bring out floral phenolics. The 2021 has it, with delicate notes of dog-rose flowers and berries – the core from the flowers, and even richer notes from the berries.
(Drink from 2029) – Very Good (88-89p) – Tasted 13/06/2022 –
The Domaine Garcia Bourgogne Les Maladieres 2021 is one of the rarest, most exotic red Bourgognes – and there’s only a half-barrel of it. The nose is, as usual, brimming with petals from dark red and pink roses. While not the most complex on the palate, it still has the unique energy of this small vineyard, helped along by the Pinot Droit. This is a mega-cult wine in my opinion.
(Drink from 2029) – Very Good (89p) – Tasted 13/06/2022 –
The Domaine Garcia Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Grandes Vignes 2021 is from Premeaux, right next to Comte Liger-Belair’s 1er-cru holding – and it was harvested the same day. This has, like the 2020, quite a heft of hedonistic decadence, and is both exuberant and extroverted. There are some pink roses on the nose, but the rose-hip aromas give this wine a slightly late-spring-like note; spicier perhaps.
(Drink from 2029) – Very Good (90-91p) – Tasted 13/06/2022 –
You need to login as a Premium subscriber to read the rest of this article. If you are not a Premium Subscriber, use the subscribe function and sign-up.
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.