Profile: Domaine Jean-Jacques Confuron (Nuits)

Update 29.11.2012(28.11.2012)billn

Domaine Jean-Jacques Confuron is easily located – it’s the first small collection of buildings on your right-hand side as you enter Premeaux from the south, direction Nuits St.Georges – sitting at the top of the ‘hill’ before the road dips down to the centre of the village. Enter the courtyard and you will be ‘greeted’ by the gruff reproach of a big, very black, Labrador. Should he allow you to scratch his head and rub his ear your friendship will be sealed.

Around the back of the main house is the office and entrance to the cuverie, here I met Sophie Meunier who was beavering away at her correspondence.

The Domaine

The birth of this domaine was the marriage in 1926 of one Jean Confuron of Vosne to an Anne-Marie Bouchard of Premeaux – vines came from both sides of the family and the newly married couple chose to live in Premeaux. All the produce of the domaine was sold in bulk.

Jean and Anne-Marie had two sons; Christian and Jean-Jacques who worked together at the family domaine until 1980 when they chose separate directions* – the family vines were split between them. Jean-Jacques had married Andrée Noëllat from Vosne, one of the Noëllats whose large domaine later became the basis of Domaine Leroy. Andrée had brought to the marriage premier cru vines in Nuits and important parcels of grand cru vines in the Clos de Vougeot and Romanée Saint-Vivant. Sophie Meunier recounts:

Leroy was a neighbour of Charles Noëllat, my mother one of his ‘petite filles’. When Leroy was buying the Noëllat estate my mother said ‘don’t just take cash, take vines too’. So we kept the Romanée St.Vivant, Nuits Boudots and Vosne Beaumonts – and that was nice, because my great-grandfather planted the majority of the vines on those parcels!

Jean-Jacques became ill in 1982, Clive Coates has him dying the following year; so from thereon, Andrée, aided by her daughter Sophie took responsibility for the domaine. In 1988 Sophie married Alain Meunier who she had met whilst at the Lycée Viticole in Beaune; together they took on the control of the domaine and started domaine bottling.
* – Domaine Christian Confuron et Fils (in Vougeot) is now run by Christian’s son, Philippe – the cousin of Sophie Meunier.

Vines and wines…

I must admit, when looking through my bookshelf for information about this domaine, I was left rather confused by Mr Parker and his 1990 book ‘Burgundy’ – at least, given that Clive Coates has Jean-Jacques expiring in 1983, I don’t know which of them is right:

Jean-Jacques Confuron seems to have a growing reputation in Burgundy, which I cannot understand. His wines all have an underlying vegetal, course characteristic. Even his top wines… (etcetera)

The domaine today has 8.5 hectares of vines, covering 13 appellations – all in the Côte de Nuits. In 1990 there were new cuverie buildings and the beginning of a ‘Bio’ approach in the vines, indeed since 2003 they have even ploughed some parcels by horse. Sophie says “We are simply looking for the best grapes possible.”

There are sometimes some whole clusters used, it depends on the material at harvest – for example none were used in 2011. There is a little cold maceration before fermentation – perhaps 3-4 days – with roughly 14 days total fermentation time before pressing, decanting for (up to) 48 hours and then placing the wine into barrels. Remond is the major supplier, augmented with a little Rousseau. This domaine has never been afraid of using plenty of new wood; typically 50% new for the villages, 70% for the premier crus and 80% for the grand crus.

This is one of those ‘sellout’ domaines where it is not that easy to find bottles. A majority of the domaine’s wines are exported – mainly throughout Europe – with a high percentage ending up with restaurant clients, they recently started working with Fortnum & Mason in the UK too. I don’t see the wines too often, but I’ve always found them to be worth the cost of entry…

A quick tour of the part finished 2011 cuvées with Sophie on 11th May 2012 – her summary was:

“Not bad at all! They are supple and show modest acidity, a little like 2007, but with more structure. We destemmed everything and had quite fast malos too.”

We started with their Côte de Nuits Villages Les Vignottes, showing lovely aromas and nice long finishing flavour. Next came the Nuits St.Georges Les Fleurières, clearly the aromas were more profound. Supple and growing in the mouth, this also had nice finishing flavour. Surprising then, that their villages Chambolle showed much more structure – but it is early days. The Vosne 1er Les Beaux-Monts showed a real Vosne nose and an extra dimension of flavour, even after the Chambolle 1er Cru. Nuits 1er Les Boudots really showed its proximity to Vosne – you’d be hard-pressed to pick this as Nuits if didn’t see the label. Nuits 1er Les Chaboeufs is particularly floral – Sophie said “it must be a 2011 ‘thing’ as it’s not normally so”. Then comes Clos de Vougeot, there’s plenty of structure (of-course) but the mouth-watering flavours grow and grow – maybe they will be a match – a wine to wait for but I think it will be worth it. Lastly, Romanée St.Vivant – only wrote ‘yum’ – sorry!

Domaine Jean-Jacques Confuron
“Les Vignottes”
21700 Premeaux-Prissey
Tel: +33 (0)3 80 62 31 08
Fax: +33 (0)3 80 61 34 21

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