From £23.14, $30.97, €32.95, 249 Danish krone, 4,860 yen
Chorey-lès-Beaune is far from Burgundy’s most glorious appellation. It’s a little village on the main road just north of the town of Beaune that has only a handful of producers with any sort of international reputation. When I last drove through it on 11 November last year, the villagers were all gathered solemnly by the war memorial, some with flags and some with black armbands, to remember Armistice Day.
Perhaps the best-known wine domaine of Chorey is Domaine Tollot-Beaut, currently run by the energetic Nathalie Tollot (pictured above by Jon Wyand, with her cousins Olivier, left, and Jean-Paul, right). Tollot-Beaut wines are always very straightforward in their appeal and tend to have lots of plump, easy-to-appreciate, relatively early-maturing fruit. In the past some vintages have been a bit too oaky but nowadays, as elsewhere, the new oak proportion has been reduced so that for a village wine like this one no more than one in five barrels would be new.
I had already identified Dom Tollot-Beaut 2012 Chorey-lès-Beaune as a potential wine of the week when I came across a stunning 2010 Chorey last weekend. I was tasting two wines from the Tastevinage selection of the Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin in a sort of David and Goliath contest: the 2010 village Chorey-lès-Beaune and a 2013 Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru. The village wine was an absolute charmer. Choreys can be a bit stodgy, even a little rustic, but this was smooth as a baby’s bottom and had the most beautiful classic perfume. The Grand Cru was more concentrated but still so chock full of tannin it was almost bitter.
The Dom Tollot-Beaut 2012 Chorey-lès-Beaune was one of several well-priced wines I came across in the many described in Loeb’s drinking burgundies. Priced at £23.14 by Loeb’s marketing-free calculations, the wine is pale ruby with already a little evolution at the rim and the nose is delightfully sweet and fleshy. Underneath there is lots of ripe fruit and a clear structure that should see it still delivering pleasure for many years to come. I admired its expressiveness. It’s worth remembering that, although the top wines of Burgundy have soared in price, it is still possible to find satisfaction and true burgundian character at a sensible price, bearing in mind that no wine from village level upwards is made in anything like bordelais quantities.
Of Tollot-Beaut’s 24 hectares (60 acres) around the north of Beaune, a third are in the Chorey village appellation, making it by far their biggest holding – although they also have almost 1.5 ha of their monopole Pièce du Chapitre in Chorey as well, and, among their grandest parcels, almost a hectare of the grand cru Corton-Bressandes. They are very hot on viticulture and deploy most of their effort and personnel in the vines. Because of this, I suspect they harvest grapes with pretty ripe stems, but the tradition here is to destem. Tollot-Beaut wines in their distinctive flask-like bottles could indeed be said to be real ‘drinking’ burgundies.
Tollot-Beaut was one of the earliest domaines to bottle their wines, along with more illustrious names, and Nathalie Tollot is a fifth-generation vigneronne.