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2018 Irancy “La Grande Côte”

Benoît Cantin
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Last May, some colleagues and I hoisted ourselves into the back of the Cantin family’s pick-up truck for what was a decidedly bumpy, but ultimately life-affirming ride around the appellation of Irancy. Bobbing atop the cargo bed with Benoît’s son Félicien as our guide, we took in the fresh air, and witnessed first hand the magnificence of this appellation. Irancy, which is planted mostly to Pinot Noir, happens to showcase the same Kimmeridgian limestone soils as Chablis. One of the more splendid lieux-dits we visited was a primely positioned parcel called La Grande Côte, which spreads across a steep, south-facing hillside and produces wines with ageability, structure, and complexity I didn’t expect from this nearly forgotten appellation of northern Burgundy.
     Arriving back at the winery to taste through their lineup, Benoît, who is captain of the local hunting club, had prepared a spread of homemade boar pâté, alongside perfectly ripened Époisses and other hearty snacks. Recalling the views we’d just absorbed, I wasn’t surprised by how good Grande Côte was tasting. It was the most brambly of the bunch, vigorous, and gourmand with sour plum, fig and a touch of smoke. Featuring just a trace of Irancy’s claim to fame, the local César grape, the wine ages in barrel and can easily be cellared for an amount of time beyond what its price would suggest, that is to say, decades.
     To visit the Cantin family in Irancy is to fall in love with them, their charm, their passion, and the contagious spirit they have for making great wines from a lesser-known appellation. Tradition runs deep at this winery that has been passed down from father to son since the mid 1800s. Ask Benoît’s father Bernard what he would have been if not a vigneron, and he says he never even considered the possibility! At 14 years old, he recalls, you would have found him pushing a wheelbarrow behind a horse plow, and he wouldn’t have it any other way.   

Jane Augustine

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Technical Information
Wine Type: red
Vintage: 2018
Bottle Size: 750mL
Blend: Pinot Noir
Appellation: Irancy
Country: France
Region: Burgundy
Producer: Benoît Cantin
Winemaker: Benoît Cantin
Vineyard: 30-40 years, 16 ha total
Soil: Kimmeridgian limestone
Aging: Wines are aged in 228L oak barrels (15% new) for one year; The oak comes from the family’s own land and from the Les Bertranges forest.
Farming: Sustainable
Alcohol: 13%

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About The Region

Burgundy

map of Burgundy

In eastern central France, Burgundy is nestled between the wine regions of Champagne to the north, the Jura to the east, the Loire to the west, and the Rhône to the south. This is the terroir par excellence for producing world-class Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

The southeast-facing hillside between Dijon in the north and Maranges in the south is known as the Côte d’Or or “golden slope.” The Côte d’Or comprises two main sections, both composed of limestone and clay soils: the Côte de Nuits in the northern sector, and the Côte de Beaune in the south. Both areas produce magnificent whites and reds, although the Côte de Beaune produces more white wine and the Côte de Nuits more red.

Chablis is Burgundy’s northern outpost, known for its flinty and age-worthy Chardonnays planted in Kimmeridgian limestone on an ancient seabed. Vézelay is a smaller area south of Chablis with similar qualities, although the limestone there is not Kimmeridgian.

To the south of the Côte de Beaune, the Côte Chalonnaise extends from Chagny on its northern end, down past Chalon-sur-Saône and encompasses the appellations of Bouzeron in the north, followed by Rully, Mercurey, Givry, and Montagny.

Directly south of the Chalonnaise begins the Côte Mâconnais, which extends south past Mâcon to the hamlets of Fuissé, Vinzelles, Chaintré, and Saint-Véran. The Mâconnais is prime Chardonnay country and contains an incredible diversity of soils.

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Old wine bottles

Let the brett nerds retire into protective bubbles, and whenever they thirst for wine it can be passed in to them through a sterile filter. Those of us on the outside can continue to enjoy complex, natural, living wines.

Inspiring Thirst, page 236

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