On the Trail

A Guide to K&L's 2015 Burgundy Arrivals - Part II

David Driscoll

Marsannay is at the very top of the Côte d'Or, to the point that it's almost like a suburb of Dijon (which you can see in the distance if you look closely). It's there that Domaine Bart quietly continues to make some of the best value wines in all of Burgundy, charming and fresh no matter the vintage. Since my early days at K&L, I've been buying these wines for my own personal consumption, which made it all the more special when I finally got to visit the estate this past Spring. True to form, the 2015 reds from Bart were everything we hoped they would be: loaded with raspberries and brambly fruit, but with a zesty acidity and firmness from the tannins on the finish.

We tasted through the line-up with Pierre, the nephew of Martin Bart, who compared the ripeness of the 2015 vintage to 2009, but with better acidity making them even better cellar candidates. Nothing we tasted lacked power or structure in the face of all that ripeness. Many of the reds were as meaty and bold as they were fruity. I anticipated that, given their propensity for delicacy, the 2015s would be rather pretty and soft, as is typically their style, but these babies had gusto and grip. It was enthralling. The portfolio begins with the 2015 Bourgogne rouge, a wine that packs plenty of cherries and fresh fruit into a tidy little package, balanced by plenty of structure. For twenty bucks, it's one of the most dynamic pinot noirs in the store. The village level 2015 Marsannay rouge is the same price as the Bourgogne rouge and has the same level of quality in my mind, but there's more lushness and sweetness of fruit here. If you're looking for classic Burgundy with a bit of grit, do the Bourgogne. If you want to experience the silky and softer flavors of 2015, do the Marsannay. You're in good company either way!

For a few dollars more than the above rouges, we start getting into single vineyard expressions like the 2015 "Les Ouzeloy" from just nearby the domaine. The "Ouzeloy" is the plumpest and roundest of the 2015 Bart releases and has plums, cassis, and a velvet texture that puts this almost into Sonoma pinot noir territory. It's a hard one to lay off because the ripeness sends you back for more after each sip. Just above that wine is the 2015 "Les Echezots," the most classic of the 2015 Bart reds and a wine that year after year represents one of our best values in the category. The 2015 expression is loaded with raspberry and cherry, with accents of violets and cassis on the nose. There's more fruit and less forest this year, but that will provide a long drinking window to enjoy the evolution of that fantastic ripeness. Next to Marsannay is the village of Fixin where Bart has some outstanding premier cru holdings. The 2015 "Hervelets" 1er Cru, for example, is the purest and more concentrated of all the wines we tasted, making it for me the must-buy of the bunch. There's more finesse in the Fixin expressions than in Bart's Marsannay wines and that complexity should unlock itself even more over time. You should buy this for the cellar while you drink all the ridiculous and incredible Marsannay values now. 

-David Driscoll