Burgundy has always been at the heart of Rosenthal Wine Merchant’s identity. Over our 45 years of existence, we have witnessed seismic shifts in the market, as blue-chip wines that may have merely strained the wallet a few decades ago are today practically inaccessible to all but a miniscule and uber-wealthy few. While such deservedly coveted wines do comprise a small portion of our Burgundy portfolio, we have always taken great pride in seeking out wines from less heralded corners of the region. Not only are these Burgundies more accessible to a broader range of enthusiasts, but they paint a truer picture of the region; after all, love of only the most coveted crus is not a love of Burgundy, but a love of trophies.
We discovered Nathalie Richez through a bottle of her Bouzeron during a quick lunch in Nuits-Saint-Georges. Struck by its frankness and its satisfying depth, we arranged a visit for our next pass-through, and indeed both Nathalie and her simple setup proved to be a breath of fresh air. In a region dominated by the landed, Nathalie—not born into a winemaking family—built up her 12-hectare domaine from scratch beginning in 2011, acquiring small plots in unheralded appellations here and there as she could afford them. Nathalie is guided by her deep love of Burgundy, and while it must perhaps be tempting for a newcomer to stamp their wines with an abundance of personality, hers are egoless, unassuming, and strikingly transparent.
Nathalie’s vineyards encompass holdings in both the southern reaches of the Côte de Beaune (Santenay and Maranges) and the northern portions of the Côte Chalonnaise (Bouzeron and Mercurey).
Nathalie’s home is the little town of Chagny, on the border of the Côte de Beaune and the Côte Chalonnaise; she vinifies her wines in a spartan room adjacent to her house, in steel and fiberglass tanks, and her barrel cellar is a couple of gravel-floored chambers beneath an old stone shed in the backyard. Except for the Aligoté for the Bouzeron, all her wines, from humblest to grandest, pass 18 months in 20% new oak—low-toast barrels from a tiny local one-man operation. She destems everything fully, allows fermentations to proceed spontaneously, and only applies sulfur after malolactic is complete—an utterly nonradical regimen that well serves her wines’ sense of classicism. She works without chemical herbicides in the vineyards and regularly aerates the soil, but she chooses not to adapt a “practicing organic” label, as she wants to retain the flexibility to employ her best judgment in every situation.
Nathalie’s vineyards encompass holdings in both the southern reaches of the Côte de Beaune (Santenay and Maranges) and the northern portions of the Côte Chalonnaise (Bouzeron and Mercurey), and of her 12 hectares she only currently bottles three and a half hectares’ worth, selling the remainder of her fruit to Drouhin and Jadot. We hope to work together to help her shift that balance over time, as we have done numerous times over our decades of work in the region. Like Nathalie herself, her wines are friendly, frank, unassuming, and immediately likable—Burgundies that may not reflect a deep family history of winemaking, but are as irresistibly pure as they come.