Domaine Denis Carré: the pleasure principle
Author: Will Heslop
A glitch occurs in the space-time continuum on the sleepy road from Pommard to Meloisey, in the Hautes Côtes de Beaune. The distance is a mere eight kilometres, but as the vineyards of the Côte recede in the rearview mirror – replaced by lush pastures before the road begins to climb through woodland and a veil of mist – you get the impression you’re entering a different region entirely. There’s an alpine look and feel to Meloisey, compounded by the fact the temperature here is typically a couple of degrees cooler than the Côte de Beaune.
Meloisey is home to Domaine Denis Carré, the latest addition to our Burgundy portfolio. Denis does not hail from a winemaking family, but started out in 1974 with a single hectare on the outskirts of the village, from which he made Passetoutgrains. His day job at the time was in a local garage, but he gave that up three years later when he purchased a further three hectares. In the decades since, Denis has added parcels in Auxey-Duresses, Meursault, Pommard, Savigny, and Beaune.
Today comprised of 14 hectares (of which 5.5 are in the Hautes Côtes), the domaine is run by Denis’s daughter and son, Gaëtane and Martiale. Both studied winemaking in Dijon, before Martiale sought work experience at wineries around the Côte d’Or, while Gaëtane spent a year in the UK, working for Richards Walford, a fine wine importer subsequently acquired by Berry Bros. & Rudd. The siblings returned to the domaine a decade ago, determined to maximise its potential and brim-full of ideas from their time away.
They soon introduced organic practices in the vineyard and oversaw modernisation of the winery. Denis and his wife, Bernadette, continue to play an active role, and have been complicit in the gradual evolution in the styles of wine made here. As Gaëtane explains, the Carrés seek to make fresh, approachable wines that can be enjoyed in their youth but have the capacity to age. New oak is never allowed to dominate: the top wines are raised in a maximum 25%.
Even with such prestigious holdings as Meursault Les Tillets and Pommard Les Noizons, it’s clear the wines from the Hautes Côtes are a particular source of pride to the family – and indeed excitement, for this is an appellation on the up and up. Previously, Hautes Côtes vineyards often delivered thin, insipid or plain underripe wines owing to the cooler temperature, but with warmer vintages becoming more frequent, cooler sites – where there’s less risk of grapes becoming overripe – are increasingly sought after.
All their wines speak of exceptional terroir and meticulous, thoughtful winemaking. Not only that, the Hautes Côtes white and red, in particular, represent tremendous value for money. Yes, these are wines worthy of cogitation, but their raison d’être is to be drunk and enjoyed. We’re delighted to have added them to our range, and are confident you’ll feel them same about adding a case or two to your cellar.