- Fixin, Burgundy, France
Amélie Berthaut's emergence as one of Burgundy's rising stars by now needs no reiteration, but the quality of her 2017 portfolio demonstrates that the plaudits she has received are amply justified. Uniting the vineyards of the Domaines Denis Berthaut and François Gerbet, this enterprise now encompasses some 16 hectares, with Amélie's fiancé Nicolas Faure overseeing the vineyards. The Berthaut cuvées, always excellent but decidedly sturdy and structured in their youth, are now suppler and more accessible while retaining the structure to age. The cuvées that hail from the Gerbet vineyards, which were less well farmed, are making tangible progress too, as their soils are worked and chemical treatments are reduced or eliminated—progress evident in the wines' enhanced vitality and completeness, even in the generous 2017 vintage. With a cellar well-stocked with used barrels, Amélie's use of oak is also increasingly judicious. In short, all the stars are aligned at this address, and readers shouldn't hesitate to seek out the wines. And I'll add that it would be a mistake to neglect the superb Fixins at the expense of the grander appellations from Vosne-Romanée. - William Kelley, Wine Advocate, January 2019.
In a region deeply steeped in tradition, it is exciting to discover a new winemaker who can elevate wines to new heights in quality and pleasure. Amélie Berthaut, the daughter of Denis Berthaut and Marie-Andrée Gerbet, only recently took over from her father, having first studied agro-oenology engineering in Bordeaux and spending time making wine with Agnes Henry at Domaine de la Tour du Bon in Bandol, and Dunn in California, before coming home to her family’s estate in 2013.
Domaine Berthaut is not a new domaine; it has been in the family for seven generations and has always been well-respected. The domaine covers 16 hectares, mostly in Fixin, but also in Gevrey-Chambertin and Vosne-Romanée. Fixin has the reputation of being a rustic wine, but Amélie explained that is perhaps because the winemaking is rustic and not the terroir. Like all great winemakers, Amélie insists that the most important work happens in the vineyards and working the soil. She follows lutte raisonnée farming, with a strong leaning towards organic viticulture: no herbicides or pesticides in the vineyards. The biggest threats are oidium and mildew, but she avoids spraying at all if possible.
In the cellar, the juice goes through a cold maceration for up to five days (up to 10ºC). Indigenous yeasts start fermentations naturally – alcoholic fermentation in concrete and malolactic in barrels or foudres. She pumps over daily and punches down the fruit three to four times after the alcoholic fermentation. Sulfur is added when the wines are initially put into tanks and then once after malolactic is finished, and once before bottling, but always kept to a minimum: total sulfur is 30-50ppm. She uses a combination of or foudres (1500-3000 liters) and barrels for aging and will age the wines for up to 24 months. Most of the wines are bottled without filtration (the Hautes Côtes and Fixin Villages are lightly filtered.)
Berthaut has a magic touch. The wines are alive and vibrant, and offer a truly unique expression of Fixin.