I’m very lucky to experience media tastings, and since the pandemic, my opportunities have expanded to international tastings as well. While not all events fit into projects I’m working on for traditional media outlets, I love sharing particularly special tastings with you all here on my personal website.
Last week I had the privilege of tasting through premier and grand crus wines with Benoit Landanger, owner and estate manager of Domaine de la Pousse D’or. The 2018 vintage marks the first vintage in which the domaine has been Demeter Biodynamic-certified (though they have been practicing biodynamics since 2014). This year is also marked as one of the most challenging vintages in Burgundy of Benoit’s recent memory. Excessively warm days and severe lack of rainfall forced him to make the difficult decision to start picking in mid-August.
“We are usually one of the last in Volnay to do the harvest,” says Benoit, “In 2018 we were the first. It was a risk. We were constantly checking acidity, and I knew the maturity was there.”
The effects of climate change are an ongoing struggle for growers of Burgundy, where mitigation techniques like shade cloth and irrigation are not permitted. Benoit attributes his vines’ success to his biodynamic practices, siting the soils’ ability to retain more moisture (from environmental humidity and morning dew) as just one of the many benefits to this environmentally aware form of viticulture.
If pick-dates are the hardest challenge in the field, sitting still is the hardest decision in the cellar. “It’s very difficult to say ‘we don’t do anything,’ because we want to. The challenge is to say that, some days, we don’t work at all,” Bennoit says. With all the hard work he and his team put toward soil, vine, and environmental health, it’s no wonder that grapes come into the cellar in perfect condition to make top-quality wine.
In the end, these wines are absolutely beautiful. To my palate these are wines that I can easily enjoy now (and will, since they’re open), but can also age for years, decades, maybe more. When asked his opinion on his wines’ age-ability, Bennoit says, “It is difficult to answer and it depends on the moment. If the wine is well done, it is forever … We are making this for the true love of our wine, to share, and to be proud of the wine we are making.”