Domaine Felix Côtes d’Auxerre Pinot Noir – Organic
Back in the day, one used to be able to purchase a village-level Côte d’Or red Burgundy in the 20s. Now, those wines are in the high 50-60s! What to do if you are looking for red Burgs that you can drink more casually? Look to the north and south!
“The northernmost appellations of Burgundy, anchored by Chablis, are proving well-positioned for success in a warming climate. Côtes d’Auxerre may be unknown to many, but this juicy, silken Pinot Noir from 17th-century Domaine Félix is about to change all of that!” – David Lynch, wine writer
From one of the oldest producers of Saint-Bris and the Cotes d’Auxerre, Herve Felix and his family run a small estate where they produce a range of artisan wines. Founded by Herve’s ancestors in 1690, the estate has been passed down from generation to generation for over 300 years. Let’s just say they know a thing or two about the land, the grapes, and how to best express both in their wines.
When Herve Felix returned home to Saint-Bris le Vineux in 1987 to take over the family vineyards, he was but one of many who had done so since the family archives first showed a winemaker in the family in 1692. The family think it’s very likely that the tradition goes back even further.
But this is not so unusual in this area of Burgundy known as the Auxerrois. This is the region of Chablis, and of Irancy, villages with a worldwide reputation for fine wine. But it was only in the past few generations that grapes became the mono-culture of the region. Although it was typical in the past for farming families to grow grapes. They grew other crops as well. Wheat and other grains, and here in the Auxerrois, famously, cherries.
So at the time that Herve came back to the farm, his parents were growing grapes, but selling them to the co-ops and negociants. Herve was a pioneer at the time, making his own wine and bottling it. Selling his wine directly to the public rather than passing through the negociants, and developing the family holdings to about 75 acres.
Today they have holding in Chablis, which Herve says is easy to sell because of its reputation. But they also produce a regional appellation Bourgogne Cote d’Auxerre which is a great value in both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
The estate’s Cotes d’Auxerre Rouge is 100% Pinot Noir grown in limestone-rich soils. Unlike most of the Pinots grown this far north in Burgundy which tend to be light, lean, and fairly simple, this is an anomaly. Quite rich, dense, and powerful, this glides across the palate with classic Red Burgundy notes of dark cherry, currant, raspberry, spice, and mineral. Powerful and somewhat structured, we recommend decanting this for an hour or two to let the wine come together and show its best “stuff.”
Perfumed and pretty Bourgogne Rouge. Continues the house’s style of balancing brightness with earthiness, a nose of rose petal and small red berries is countenanced by a touch of herbs and steminess. Fruit remains bright on the palate with cranberry and raspberry, with a cooling quality on the palate which renders this wine immensely drinkable. Tannins are ultra fine, with some lead pencil/graphite minerality adding depth to the finish. Everything you’d expect from a well-made entry-level red Burgundy, with poise and definition.
Previous vintage garnered 91 points and these words from the Wine Enthusiast: This is a bold, rich wine, a surprise from this far north in Burgundy. It does, however, carry the weight of alcohol well, giving a wine that has density and a chance to age.