Domaine Baron Thénard is a magical place to visit. From the outside, the cellar looks like an old barn; the roof is near the ground and when you open the door, you immediately descend the slippery stone steps into the cellar. The cellar dates from the eighteenth century— it's dark, damp, and cold— a perfect place to age wine. At the bottom of the steps, you are in a large room that houses the gigantic open top wooden fermenters that are still used for the red wines. Owner Jean-Baptiste Bordeaux-Montrieux does not know how old the fermenters are, perhaps 100 years old save the leaky stave that may be replaced from time to time. Sometimes in this room, you might see a barrel or fifteen(!) of Montrachet stacked up on the side. As you wind through the cellar, you find a very old press that is centuries old (no longer in use). There is a room for aging whites - Givry Blanc from the Clos du Cellier aux Moines and again, more Montrachet. Another room is used for aging the reds, it's full of foudres and barrels. It's an incredible cellar to visit. You also see bottles stacked up and covered in mold... and once in a while, we get some of these library wines in limited release!
Within all of those barrels and foudres you will mostly find Givry. The domaine has eighteen hectares total in Givry that are spread over three 1er Cru, the Clos du Cellier aux Moines, Clos Saint Pierre, and the Bois Chevaux. The domaine also has just under five hectares in the Cote d'Or: Premier Cru Clos St. Jean in Chassagne, Iles des Vergelesses in Pernand, Grand Cru Clos du Roi in Corton, Les Grands Échezeaux in Flagey, and they are the second largest owner of Le Montrachet at one and four-fifths hectares. Even with the excellent holdings throughout Burgundy, the heart of the domaine has remained in Givry. The Clos Saint-Pierre is a monopole of the domaine and it is the highest on the hil, with eastern exposure and a red soil; it normally gives the most tannins of the three cuvées and is the most age-worthy. The Bois Chevaux is located mid-slope and is also east-facing. The Clos du Cellier aux Moines is south-facing and has more clay in the soil; it's normally the most joyful of the three when it's young, but also develops slowly and is age-worthy.
Jean-Baptiste Bordeaux-Montrieux has been running the domaine from the 1980's and the wines have always been made in a very traditional method: fermented in wood tonneau barrels for two weeks, punched-down by foot twice a day, then aged in barrel for twelve to eighteen months (five percent new oak on the premier crus), and only very lightly filtered if necessary. The whites are fermented and aged in barrel. Fermentations start spontaneously and go at their own pace, sometimes lasting months. The amount of new oak has been dialed back on the Montrachet and averages fifty percent from the 2010 vintage. On the reds, the Clos du Cellier aux Moines is aged mostly in foudres and the Clos Saint-Pierre is aged mostly in used barrels. The Boix Chevaux is a fifty-fifty mix of foudres and barrels.
Bowler was the first to import these wines in the United States. Thénard previously sold wine to Remoissenet and they had signed a non-compete agreement. The contract changed and 2005 Givry was the first to be sold state-side. It's been great to introduce these wines to the market. They represent a very old-style of Burgundy that you find less and less: the wines (Givry Rouge) are delicate and light in color, smell like forest floor, have bright and beautiful acidity, and a measured amount of fruitiness to them. If you want to collect wines on a budget, these are beautiful options. And if you have a chance to pick some up on a library offer, do not hesitate! The wines come aged from the cellar and the oldest we have ever tasted was a Givry Village from 1976; it was fresh and very much alive.