Hiding in Plain Sight

Every region has its hidden gems. These are wines that deliver drinking experiences far above their price level. But because insiders know just how good they are, they tend to keep the tiny production to themselves.

Jean-Philippe Fichet’s Auxey-Duresses is such a wine. A Meursault doppelganger, its amazing quality has been extolled by America’s top critics for more than a decade, yet because fewer than 190 cases are made, it seldom sees the light of day.

In fact, we were Fichet’s US importer for 8 years before we managed to squeeze a bottle out of him! And we’ve never had enough to offer retail clients, since it all gets snapped up by top restaurants.

But the 2014 vintage has brought us a perfect storm: a small retail allocation in a great White Burgundy year.

The Great 2014

Steve Tanzer calls 2014 “a modern classic for white Burgundy, having produced concentrated, vibrant wines with uncommon balance, aromatic complexity, pure fruit flavors and compelling saline minerality.”

And Fichet’s 2014 Auxey captures all of the year’s magic, in a wine of more depth and complexity than many other growers’ Meursaults.

The keys are simple: great viticulture and winemaking, and vines that abut Meursault itself, in the lieux-dits of Closeaux and Nampoillons. While Closeaux actually touches Meursault Chevalières, Nampoillons is high up on Auxey’s 1er cru slope, on very stony white marl soil.

With peerless skill, Jean-Philippe blends the two, in a seamless marriage of Meursault-like richness and breed with Auxey’s characteristic bright citrus flavors and flinty minerality.

The 2014 Fichet Auxey’s greatest gift is its capacity for surprise. Who would ever have guessed that Auxey Blanc villages could be so great?

This is an essential purchase for anyone who loves fine white Burgundy, regardless of price. Snooze, you lose.

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