Domaine Faiveley, a tasting of Burgundy excellence

Past, present and future of the historic label, with over 190 years of activity. And our notes after a tasting of nine excellent wines

01-05-2019
Some famous labels from Domaine Faiveley

Some famous labels from Domaine Faiveley

Burgundy: just mentioning the name stirs some intense emotions in any wine enthusiast, be it a newbie or an expert. A land where Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes express their highest quality through some of the most famous fine wines in the world. A wine region both fascinating and complex, ruled by a strict pyramidal set of classes, which from the regional denomination reaches its peak in the single vineyards of higher quality, in a fascinating mosaic of villagesclosclimats and lieux-dits, from vigneronsdomaines and negotiants.

A view of the vineyards of Domaine Faiveley

A view of the vineyards of Domaine Faiveley

And in Burgundy you can find Domaine Faiveley, which Pierre Faiveley established in 1825 in Nuits-Saint-Georges: a shoemaker with a great passion for wine. Today Erwan Faiveley and his sister Eve represent the seventh generation of the family, running what, over time, what with inheritances and new acquisitions, has reached a total of 122 hectares of land, with over 56 denominations among which 22 Premiers Crus and 12 Grands Crusstand out. Eve, moreover, is the first woman to hold this role in over 190 years of activity of this historic domaine.

When they took over in 2005, after their father FrançoisErwan Faiveley immediately decided to change the style of the family production. His goal was to transform some very important wines, destined to a very long ageing before they could be enjoyable, in wines that could be drank and appreciated in a shorter time. A modernisation, so to speak, that was made without revolutionising the production methods and the typical expression of the terroir of Burgundy and of their famous and esteemed labels. Moreover, they did not neglect the increasing importance of respect and safeguard of the environment which at Domaine Faiveley mean they try to intervene as little as possible in the vineyard and currently 75% of the owned land has an organic certification.

Left to right Carl-Stéphane Cercellier, Massimo Sagna, Jérôme Flous, Leonardo Sagna

Left to right Carl-Stéphane Cercellier, Massimo Sagna, Jérôme Flous, Leonardo Sagna

To put this new phase into action, starting from the vintage of 2007, they called oenologist Jérôme Flous – who’s responsible both for the management of the vineyards and the cellars, so as to avoid any possible management contrast between the two. He was the one who introduced us to some of the most representative labels of Domaine Faiveley in a long and thrilling tasting that took place at Ceresio 7 in Milan. Carl-Stéphane Cercellier, export manager at Faiveley, and Massimo and Leonardo Sagna, importers and distributors in Italy through their Società Sagna– another historic family business – were also there.

The main protagonists of the event were the wines from the 2016 vintage which in Burgundy featured contrasting weather conditions, such as a mild winter followed by a rainy spring with occasional frost. The vegetative cycle, therefore, was slow and even the harvest was late, in order to wait for the perfect ripening of the grapes, which arrived after a hot summer with less rain than average. There were also wines from other vintages such as: 2015 (a vintage with very favourable weather conditions so as to give wines with an excellent ageing potential), 2009 (grapes of excellent quality for round and balanced wines) and 2007 (perhaps the year with the most unusual weather of the last decade, but capable of giving wines both intense and complex, and fine and harmonious).

This, however, is a general overview. Let’s see some notes pinpointing the tasting during which, regardless of the natural personal preferences for one wine or the other, the wines presented – all made only from Pinot Noir grapes, except when indicated – proved to be of excellent quality, generating pleasure and emotions.

Joseph Faiveley Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2016. The memory of this wine at the end of the tasting recalls the Biblical episode of David and Goliath. But in this case there were really many, too many giants for a wine from the regional denomination that still deserves respect and attention. Pleasant, educational and highly recommended to those who want to get an idea of the red wines of this beautiful region without necessarily getting a mortgage.

Domaine Faiveley Nuites-Saint-Georges Premier Cru “Les Porêts-Saint-Georges” 2016. It comes perhaps from the vineyard that the Faiveley hold dearest, given it was the first they bought back in 1830. A very complex but also still very closed Pinot Noir; a good example of a denomination that is traditionally associated with powerful and deep, tannic and austere wines. Best forget it in the cellar and appreciate it fully in a few years’ time.

Domaine Faiveley Gevrey-Chambertin Premier Cru “Les Cazetiers” 2016. The Domaine has always been famous for this cru, despite having “only” two hectares (“only” relatively speaking, given there’s only a total of ten hectares available overall), which became four in 2014. This vintage is the first to be made by assembling the historic vineyards, placed on the tall part of the hill, with the new acquisitions, placed below. Nice intensity and persistence; the tannins are noticeable but velvety compared to Saint-Georges. This wine is still very young and has an obvious potential for the future.

Domaine Faiveley Corton Clos des Cortons Faiveley Grand Cru Monopole 2016. One of the only two Grands Crus bearing the family name and a Faiveley monopole since 1874. Jérôme Flous introduced it with these words: «It’s the only wine from Burgundy that someone from Bordeaux could appreciate, as it recalls some organoleptic features typical of Pauillac and Saint-Estèphe». More complex than elegant, for a Corton whose location protected it from the frost that hit that year, and which Floushimself defined as one of the best he’s harvested.

Domaine Faiveley Mazis-Chambertin Grand Cru 2016. An archetype for the denomination, characterised by the initial floral notes which give way to spicy, smoky and almost animal notes; it shows both great power and an appreciable elegance. According to Massimo Sagna, these days the vintages from the Sixties are still perfectly enjoyable. The news is certainly interesting, first for those who still have those bottles, and mostly because it gives a better understanding of the change of approach made by Erwan Faiveley.


Domaine Faiveley Corton Clos des Cortons Faiveley Grand Cru Monopole 2009. The result of a very abundant vintage, it will not enjoy the same ageing potential of its 2016 version. During the tasting it emerged as a wine both very complex, but very open already, and ready to be enjoyed.


Domaine Faiveley Gevrey-Chambertin Premier Cru “Les Cazetiers” 2007. The brother of the 2016 vintage, it was made from the historic two hectares which at the time were still the only two owned by the Faiveley family and represents the first vintage signed by Jérôme Flous. Perhaps not the best vintage among those presented, but still a nice expression of a vineyard capable of producing elegant and refined wines.
 

But the two wines I preferred the most were served during the dinner that followed the tasting. Domaine Faiveley Mercurey 2015 – exclusively from Chardonnay grapes, and the only white wine presented that night – and Domaine Faiveley Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru 2016: two marvellous expressions of their respective terroir, the first of which also strikes for its value for money. These are bottles that all Burgundy lovers should have in their cellar.

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso


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