Domaine Tollot-Beaut is one of a very select band of Côte d’Or domaines; around 1930 the pioneering American wine merchant, winemaker and author, Frank Schoonmaker*, convinced a number of high quality domaines to reserve a portion of their production for domaine bottling and then exporting to the US – wine that would otherwise have been sold to négociants. d’Angerville of Volnay, Gouges of Nuits and Rousseau of Gevrey are well-enough known members of that select band, fewer know that Tollot-Beaut of Chorey-lès-Beaune was another, indeed they actually made their first domaine bottlings in 1921.
The first-time visitor to Chorey-lès-Beaune is in for a surprise; travel only a little north of Beaune and despite all the vineyards apparently being to your left, you will be directed to turn right – Chorey is the only sizeable appellation to be sited on the ‘wrong’ side of the Route Nationale 74 – in-fact Gevrey-Chambertin is the only other well-known AOC that has any appreciable acreage of vines to the east of the RN74, however, Nathalie Tollot likes to point out that Chorey and its vineyards have been sited here much longer than either AOC’s or the RN74!
The village is relatively compact with a new housing development at one edge – the main feature from an architectural perspective is the Château de Chorey, home of that other strong proponent of Chorey, Domain Germain – and with rooms to rent. It’s actually even harder to find a defining feature from the vineyards – everything is just so flat – perhaps then, that’s the feature. The 136 hectares of Chorey are almost exclusively planted with pinot noir, less than 4% is planted to chardonnay – Tollot-Beaut have a small plot within the village which is classed as Bourgogne Blanc. For no apparent reason, there is a block of Chorey vines on the western side of the RN74 that dovetails between the ‘village’ vines of Savigny and Aloxe, the rest is to the east.
Over the years Chorey has often worn the label of Côte de Beaune Villages as it was easier to sell that way. Recently the Chorey label has become more popular with enthusiasts seeking value with pinot noir typicité – driven in the main by the quality of producers like Tollot-Beaut.
The 24 hectare domaine of Tollot-Beaut sits modestly in the centre of Chorey-lès-Beaune. Today the ‘front of house’ face of the domaine is Nathalie Tollot – who is, by the way, happy to converse with you in either French, English or German – yet there are many other Tollots to be seen in the cuverie and the vineyards; uncle Jack, father Alain and Nathalie’s cousins Jean-Paul and Olivier.
The domaine is sited on the rue Alexandre Tollot, named in honour of Nathalie’s great grandfather who was for many years the Mayor of Chorey. The Beaut part of the domain’s name comes from Alexandre’s wife – Aurélie Beaut.
Today Nathalie is the fifth generation to run a domaine that has been run from the same premises for over 100 years – since late 19th century – though parts of the cellars are as much as 250 years old. Initially the family owned vines only in Chorey, but successive generations made small acquisitions in Savigny, Aloxe and Beaune e.g. Corton Bressandes in the 1930’s, Savigny Champs-Chevrey in the 1950’s and much more recently their new ‘monopole’ Chorey-lès-Beaune ‘Pièce du Chapitre’.
|*Frank Schoonmaker landed in Spain with his bicycle as a seventeen year-old, it was a little after the end of the first world war. From his saddle, as befits the son of a New York professor of Latin, he quickly assimilated both Spanish and French, later becoming a columnist for the New Yorker. Following the end of prohibition he was also instrumental in the movement to revive winemaking in California. About 1930, Schoonmaker became the first to import ‘domaine bottled’ burgundies into the US.|
winemaking plus a selection of wines
Every vineyard is treated as an individual. The domaine chooses to plow, and at the end of every year pushes a layer of soil over the feet of the vines for the winter then pushes the soil back in the spring – this helps to aerate the soil as much as shielding the base of the vine from some of the winter cold.
|The Tollot-Beaut Crus||Hectares ||Vines planted in…|
|Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru||0.2412||1965|
|Corton Bressandes Grand Cru||0.9121||1953, 1955|
|Corton Grand Cru||0.6026||1930, 1985|
|Aloxe-Corton Les Vercots 1er Cru||0.7886||1928, 1964, 1980, 1985|
|Aloxe-Corton Les Fournières 1er Cru||0.8819||1974, 1977, 1980|
|Beaune Grèves 1er Cru||0.5942||1969, 1987|
|Beaune Clos du Roi 1er Cru||1.0979||1978, 1982, 1987|
|Savigny-lès-Beaune Lavières 1er Cru||1.9857||1943, 1944, 1983, 1993|
|Savigny-lès-Beaune Champ Chevrey 1er Cru||1.4602||1955|
|Aloxe-Corton||1.8887||1973, 1985, 1993|
|Savigny-lès-Beaune||0.6524||1956, 1987, 1992|
|Chorey-lès-Beaune Pièce du Chapitre||1.4670||~1950|
|Chorey-lès-Beaune||8.2849||1956, 58, 62, 63, 76, 77, 92, 98|
|Bourgogne Rouge||1.2005||1963, 1970, 1975, 1984|
|Bourgogne Blanc||1.7607||1956, 1962, 1986, 2001|
No fertilisers are used. A green harvest is usually performed in the summer to limit yields. The grapes are harvested manually, parcel by parcel dictated by their ripeness, the only mechanical operation is the foliage thinning/tidying. Nathalie tells that 80% of their work is concentrated in the vineyards to get the best grapes, hand harvested and 99% de-stemmed and handled as lightly as possible to avoid crushing before going into the tanks. The tanks were fitted with the option of heating in 1968, nowadays it is cooling that they require! Typical fermentations last for 10-12 days with pump-overs in the first few days, then twice-per-day pigeage for the remainder.
For their Corton-Charlemagne, the grapes go through a pneumatic-press. Typically it’s a slow fermentation ~17-18°C, just before completion of the alcoholic fermentation the wine is moved into the barrels where they will stay for around 16 months. An average year will yield 5 barrels.
The use of oak at this domaine is worth comment as it has always been regarded as being on the generous side, but today it is to quite a subtle effect; there is no toast, rather there is padding out of the palate, an extra fatness and apparent richness that makes seemingly ‘glossy’ wines – it makes the wines very attractive in their youth with no apparent downside from ageing. The villages and regional wines stay in barrel for 16-18 months, and receive ~20% new oak, the quantity of new oak reaches a maximum of ~60% for the grand crus. Nathalie explains that the philosophy behind their oak regime is about cleanliness of winemaking, not oak flavour, she chooses barrels from Francois Freres, with a mix from the forests of Alliers and Bertranges.
The following wines were drunk during July, August and September 2006, the 2004’s and the 1991 Champs Chevrey at the domaine with Nathalie, and the rest at home with food and friends. The wines are heartily recommended.
|2004 Tollot-Beaut, Chorey-lès-Beaune |
A wine which combines several parcels from around the village. Deep, comfortingly ripe nose. Lots of interesting high-toned fruit and though there’s a slight grain to the tannin, this is very accomplished for a ‘basic’ wine. Very tasty.
|2004 Tollot-Beaut, Chorey-lès-Beaune Pièce du Chapitre |
A deep, slightly tight nose of mainly black fruit that opens-out to provide a red dimension. A little extra concentration and finer tannin; quite elegant with a well-concentrated mid-palate. Nicely balanced and a tasty step-up from the basic Chorey-lès-Beaune.
|2004 Tollot-Beaut, Savigny-lès-Beaune Les Lavières |
An open, sweet cherry nose. Again an extra density on the palate. Fine tannins with a perceptible extra length to the finish. The vines are a mix of ages; planted in the 1950’s, 1980’s and 1990’s. A lovely elegant effort which shows just a hint of cream on the finish.
|2003 Tollot-Beaut, Savigny-lès-Beaune Les Lavières |
Deep cherry-red. The nose starts a little foisty – sulfurous funk, not taint – some oak too. Just a few minutes of aeration and it is much cleaner; there is width and a mix of savoury and tight red & black fruit elements and some oak, clearly 2003 from the aromatics. Quite dense vs the other vintages, relatively low acidity but there’s a very sneaky length. The texture is actually very good, there are plenty of grainy tannins but they are hidden behind the concentrated fruit. It’s not my favoured style but it has been executed very, very well. The oak whilst ever-present eventually gives a slightly black-olive edge to the wine.
|2002 Tollot-Beaut, Savigny-lès-Beaune Les Lavières |
A wild cacophony of red and black fruit over oak greets your nose, slowly focuses to bright black cherry eventually with a sweet, creamy edge. This is likewise black-fruit dominated in the mouth with more than a trace of oak flavour, but no bad oak texture. Super acidity and a finish that for most of the trip is also a little oaky then surprises with a creamy flourish. There’s just a little more wood evident here than with the other wines, but there’s also depth, good texture and great balance. This wine is showing very young – I wouldn’t hesitate to leave this 5 years before revisiting, the base material is very good.
|2001 Tollot-Beaut, Savigny-lès-Beaune Les Lavières |
Medium ruby-red. The nose starts bright and red, powdery fruit with currently just a little savoury undertow, shows a nice core of intensity. Lovely texture, perfect acidity and good mid-palate intensity. The acidity elongates the finish though here lies the only negative, just a little bitterness at the very end. I expect that this is a transitory oak effect that will improve. An excellent wine I think.
|2000 Tollot-Beaut, Savigny-lès-Beaune Les Lavières |
Medium, medium-plus ruby-red. A nose of wide and sweet red fruit with just a suggestion of high-toned fresh mint. The impact is very up-front and indeed front-end loaded, slowly fading through the mid-palate and finish – but the finish holds-on well. There is good ripeness and a nicely accessible presentation. A diminuendo of a wine, no hard edges, though not much structure either, yet very nice aromatics indeed. Still no rush to consume.
|1999 Tollot-Beaut, Savigny-lès-Beaune Les Lavières |
(From magnum) A deep core of colour that’s just holding onto the last trace of cherry-red. Aromaticly this is both wide and deep – the high notes are a little floral and the depth is of red jam tarts. The palate has good density yet somehow remains rather compact. The texture has just an edge of fat and plenty of tannin though it’s quite fine for a Savigny. The fruit is black-edged and really does hang-on very well in the finish. Certainly young, but lots of potential – everyone enjoyed this wine – three more are ordered for the cellar!
|2004 Tollot-Beaut, Savigny-lès-Beaune Champs-Chevrey |
A tighter, finer core of black-shaded fruits on the nose – some depth too. A super fine texture to the palate, just a little more padding than the ‘Lavières’- again dark shaded fruit. I always liked this wine, and here is no exception.
|1991 Tollot-Beaut, Savigny-lès-Beaune Champs-Chevrey |
Medium ruby-red – looks lovely in the glass – quite young looking. The nose starts slightly feral followed by a deep chocolate note, then a savoury stage before a baked raspberry tart core remains constant. Nice fat, round in aspect it’s well balanced with lovely acidity and real complexity. Still some tannin, the finish slowly fades. Lots of interest here – do yourself a favour and don’t always drink these young!
|2004 Tollot-Beaut, Beaune Clos du Roi |
High-toned fruit over a depth of dark fruit with hints of oak. Nice texture, lovely purity; the tannins are a little more forward but still quite fine. A super wine.
|2004 Tollot-Beaut, Corton Bressandes |
The nose is both wide and deep, powdery red fruit, but very primary. Big and bold of flavour, but the tannins are quite elegant. There is a really intense concentration on the mid-palate that flows into the finish. Very good wine – and worth a couple of bottles in the cellar.
|1976 Tollot-Beaut, Aloxe-Corton |
Clean and bright, medium, medium-plus colour – a mahogany rim but clearly still a ruby-red core. From opening this was just a little monolithic on the nose; faint baked fruit and a savoury undercurrent. If you wait – over 1 hour – the nose tightens to a very nice and tight powdery red fruit impression The palate is surprisingly plush and intense – it’s hard to keep hold of the wine, as your mouth starts watering in response to the acidity. I’m very impressed by the balance here. Slowly some sweetness builds to counterbalance an edge of tartness in the finish. The tannins are still there and quite chewy. This is a surprisingly robust and healthy wine – just like the label says, this is a village wine so no real fireworks or mind-bending length, but it’s always interesting to drink a wine that was harvested around your 14th birthday!
rue Alexandre Tollot
21200, Chorey-lès-Beaune, France
Tel : (33) 380 22 16 54
Fax : (33) 380 22 12 61