Burgundy, part 6
Sylvain Cathiard is the archetypal Burgundy producer.
He works the family domaine, established by his grandfather in the
1930s, together with his wife Marinette and son Sébastien. He has
4.2 hectares of vines spread around 11 plots, including a 0.17
hectare plot of Romanée St Vivant, with the majority of the
holdings in Vosne-Romanée. And the wines from this modest producer
are rightly highly sought after. ‘When we started we had to look
for customers,’ says Sylvain. ‘Now
it’s customers who are calling me. I was really surprised
to become this famous.’ Indeed, his success has been relatively
‘We are winegrowers. We are farmers, people from the
soil,’ says Sylvain. ‘We are not becoming businessmen. We don’t
get big-headed. It is the passion of our work that counts. Now we
have to manage that success.’
99% of the production is exported, with 40% going to
the UK and 15% to the USA. Sylvain feels that too much is going to
the UK, and is thinking of reducing this amount. He says that Becky
Wasserman was the first to launch him in the USA.
Old vine: Romanee-St-Vivant
Most of Sylvain’s vines are old – at least 40 –
and this probably helps with quality. Viticulture isn’t organic,
but he works the soil and doesn’t use herbicides or pesticides. He
says Sébastien might move to organics, but without certification
just in case an exceptional event causes for some chemical
intervention, such as the use of systemic fungicides.
Sylvain explained how his grandfather started the
domain in the 1930s, and then his father added some more vineyards.
Sylvain worked for his father for 15 years, unpaid. Then he got
married, and his wife insisted that he get paid. So Sylvain started
renting some vineyards to make his dad realize that he really was
interested and keen. In response his dad agreed to rent him some
vineyards, and the domaine name was changed from Cathiard-Molenier
As we visited he was in the middle of a building
project, constructing a new cellar. In
the old cellar, we tried some 2008s from barrel, and then some
bottled wines. We also took a wander through the village to visit
some of his vineyard plots.
Sylvain Cathiard Chambolle Musigny ‘Les Clos de l’Orme’
50 year old vines. Very perfumed and open. Expressive, powerful
and beautifully expressive.
Sylvain Cathiard Vosne Romanée 1er Cru En Orveaux
This is between Clos Vougeout and Echezeaux. Dense, tannic and
firm with lovely fruit expression. Bright and assertive.
Sylvain Cathiard Vosne Romanée 2007
Some spicy, meaty notes to the fresh, vivid, elegant sappy
cherry fruit. Lovely. The palate is fresh and elegant with lovely
focused fruit and some spicy structure. Nice grippy finish. 91/100
Sylvain says that 2007 is a pleasure wine that will
help people wait for the 2005 and 2006, which will close and keep
for longer. 2007 is a little like 2000 – a pleasure wine.
Sylvain Cathiard Nuits-St-Georges 1er Cru Aux Thorey
Sweet, spicy, slightly oaky nose with lovely dense plum and
cherry fruit. The palate has lovely depth with dense spicy fruit and
lovely spicy structure. Rich and dense, but focused with lovely
minerality. Needs time. 93/100
Sylvain Cathiard Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Malconsorts
Wonderfully sweet, open nose: rich, meaty, slightly herby with
sweet cherry fruit. Beautifully meaty perfume – almost like Syrah.
The palate is dense, spicy and firm with concentrated spicy fruit
and good structure. Lovely tannins here. Robust and full. 94/100
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