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  • Jancis Robinson
Written by
  • Jancis Robinson
18 Jan 2019

A promising but little-known producer of Meursault, Volnay and Pommard. 

From £162 a dozen in bond, €7.87, 195 Danish krone, 239 Norwegian kroner, $24.99 

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It's not often we recommend a producer rather than a specific wine in our wine of the week slot but I would like to draw your attention to this under-the-radar producer. (One of the more attractive aspects of feverish worldwide demand for the famous names of Burgundy is that UK importers have been trying harder to sniff out alternatives.)

I first came across a wine made by Thiébault Huber back in 2010 when I had the pleasure of tasting in Burgundy a range of wines made by young and as-yet-uncelebrated producers. See Young turks of Burgundy for my description of this tasting, including producers such as Agnès Paquet and Michèle and Patrice Rion. Huber's Les Robardelles 2008 Volnay was one of my highest-scoring wines.

But I heard no more of Huber-Verdereau until being contacted recently by Hampshire wine importer Stone, Vine & Sun, who urged me to taste the range of 2017s currently featured in their offer of 2017 burgundies.

I'm delighted that I did as I was very impressed by almost all of Huber's wines: a Bourgogne white and red, a Meursault (white), a Monthelie, a Volnay, a premier cru Volnay and a premier cru Pommard. The village wines and even the generic Bourgognes are labelled with a lieu-dit. The only 2017 I gave less than 16.5 to was the Bourgogne Rouge, Cuvée No 2 Les Grands Gouttes from a lieu-dit on the plain of Meursault near Puligny. I felt it could do with a little more freshness (the most common shortcoming of less successful 2017 red burgundies).

But I really appreciated all the other wines and found them excellent value, as you can read from my Huber-Verdereau tasting notes. The Monthelie Combe Danay is the most beautiful, pure wine and immediately made the journey from my tasting bench to our dining table, proving it is already highly accessible. I was also impressed that the wines are all certified biodynamic by Demeter.

Here's what François Dupont of Stone, Vine & Sun wrote about this producer:

A few years ago I asked a local with a deep knowledge of the Côte de Beaune which young winemaker's wines were worth exploring. I was tipped to try the wines made by Thiébault Huber.

Not that we are discriminating against maturity, but we find that when you look for value, seeking youth is usually a better bet in Burgundy. I bought a few bottles and forgot about it until a few months ago, when we opened a Monthélie 2014 in the office. We were amazed by the texture and purity of the wine along with a savoury touch, especially when compared to many 2014s at the moment. It was time to get on my bike to try and meet him.

When Thiébault's maternal grandfather Raoul Verdereau retired in 1974, his family decided to keep his three hectares of vines but not farm them. Thiébault, born and raised in Alsace, became a sommelier, and in 1990 he decided the family vineyard could be better tended, and saw the opportunity to create his domaine and fulfil his love of wine. He moved to Burgundy and worked with his cousin, the highly rated Jean-Marc Bouley, to learn the trade.

Thiébault's first vintage at Domaine Huber-Verdereau was in 1994. He was always driven to work in the vines as naturally as possible and began working organically to achieve certification in 2001. Wanting to go further he began working with the late Pierre Mason, one of the most respected figures in biodynamic agriculture, and by 2005 his whole estate was certified biodynamic.

After a few years juggling between his small house in Volnay and another two rented ones, Thiébault decided to buy a plot in 2010 to build a winery in Meursault; his first vintage here was in 2016. It was the last and the worst of a series of catastrophic vintages in terms of yields due to hail and frost. His estate, now covering nine hectares, produced 60 hl of wine in 2016 and, thankfully, a much healthier 360 hl in 2017.

In terms of work in the cellar, Thiébault has a gentle touch, using 350 and 500 litre barrels, minimum sulphur and no lees stirring. He vinifies and bottles separately wines coming from each parcel, to try and express each terroir. His whites are precise and his reds are wonderful expressions of Pinot Noir, showing lovely red fruit and silky texture .

You can find the Stone, Vine & Sun offer here. Prices vary from £162 a dozen to £327 for six in bond (taxes and delivery will have to be paid on top of this once the wines are shipped).

It is only Britain's cash-hungry merchants who sell burgundy en primeur so it will be some time before Huber-Verdereau 2017s will be available in countries other than the UK, I'm afraid. But I see that earlier vintages are available in the US, Norway, Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands and of course France. One of the most important buyers and sellers of Huber-Verdereau wines seems to the be the Norwegian monopoly Vinmonopolet. Lucky Norwegians.

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