After months of anticipation following our trip to Burgundy earlier this year, the wines of Domaine Parent have arrived at K&L and I couldn’t be more excited. Of all the producers we visited on this last go-around I had the most informative and transformational experience with sisters Anne and Catherine Parent, who continue to pool their family's vineyard parcels and make wine together under the Domaine Parent label (in Burgundy, the term "domaine" means the vines are owned by the producer and Domaine Parent has holdings in Pommard, Beaune, and Corton, as well as a number of Chardonnay plots in Monthélie). Not only were the wines distinct, unique, and different from one another in style, I was able to ask Anne directly about her winemaking practices to better understand why each expression tasted the way it did and she gave me clear, easy-to-understand answers. Burgundy is already overwhelming and often confusing as is, so when you find a teacher who can explain simply the nuances of the terroir and the philosophy behind the winemaking, it's a glorious thing and it's something I'd like to be able to share more often with our customers so that they get to know some of our most important direct relationships. I contacted Anne earlier this week to ask her a few additional questions about her background for exactly that purpose:
How did you learn to make wine?
At first, I had to learn on my own, with oenology books and some advice from some winegrower friends. Then I passed an exam called “Diplôme de technicien en Oenologie” (French graduate Oenologist from the University of Burgundy), and obtained lots of experience over the different vintages.
How long has your family been making wine?
Our family has been in the wine business since the seventeenth century. My sister and I represent the twelfth generation of winemakers, and most importantly, the first generation of women!
What makes the wines of Parent taste so good? What is the philosophy behind the winemaking?
First of all, we have orientated our winemaking and winegrowing towards an organic and biodynamic approach, for the respect of the soils, the environment, and everybody’s health. We are trying to win back the soil's energy, so as to produce the most balanced grapes as possible. Balance is the key word in the vineyards, and in the cellars. We like wines with character and personality, but also subtle, complex and sensual.
What are your thoughts on 2015 as a vintage, especially in comparison to 2014 and 2016?
2015 is a beautiful vintage, glossy, very greedy and “yummy”, with a great aromatic potential, very expressive and generous. 2014 & 2016 are more classical vintages, which are fine, elegant, more precise, and energetic.
When do you think the 2015 wines will be at their best maturity?
2015 can be drunk very young (right away if needed), but also have an ageing potential of around ten years, especially the premiers and Grand Crus (the reds). The 2015 whites will have to be drunk more quickly.
The 2015 reds from Domaine Parent are utterly charming wines made with restraint and balance and with just the right concentration of fruit. A Bourgogne rouge is often a sign of a winemaker’s chops, and the simple 2015 Domaine Parent Bourgogne Pinot Noir is full of ample fruit with gentle tannins and a clean, elegant finish, but also exotic spice and earthy elements. We just tasted it again yesterday in the store and I was just as impressed as I was back in Burgundy this past Spring. I think the big winner, however, is the 2015 Pommard 1er Cru "Argillieres." This was one of the best wines from the trip and it was my first serious foray into the Parent portfolio, showcasing the dark and fleshy fruit of Pommard, but with restraint and balance. It's never too tannic, earthy, or intense, peaking in the just the right places and exhilarating the taste buds with fresh acidity in addition to all that ripe 2015 fruit. This is a wine built for the distance, however, so no matter how good it tastes now, just know that it's going to taste even better down the line.
We have plenty of more selections from Domaine Parent on our website, but be careful not to confuse the wines with our other selections from Domaine FRANCOIS Parent, who is a relative of Anne and Catherine, but now makes wine for his own domaine.