Sylvain Cathiard must be one of the smallest, cult grower producers in Burgundy in France, with only 13 acres of Pinot Noir vineyards in the Cote de Nuits. The level of fan base is unsurprising, as the wines made on every level are crafted with exquisite precision by owner and winemaker Sylvain and his son Sébastien. Unlike other Burgundian producers, Domaine Sylvain Cathiard use much new oak in the majority of their red wine production, with the Premier and Grand Cru wines seeing up to 70%-barrel fermentation. This gives the wines a fuller bodied, rounder texture and much structure, which balances well with the core fruit flavours in the wines, helping them to stay fresh and vibrant even with extended bottle age. Owing to small vineyard plots and controlled yields, the tiny amounts of wine that are produced annually are usually pre-allocated to loyal customers, making these wines highly desirable to collectors.
A rising star 20 years ago Cathiard is now firmly entrenched in the upper echelons of the Burgundy producers circle with a strong reputation for exceptional winemaking. Attention to detail seems to be the key to Cathiard production and ‘meticulous’ is a word commonly used to describe their ethos.
Having worked in the vineyards for several years Sylvain eventually took charge in 1995 when his father Andre retired. There is a simplicity to the winemaking at the Domaine that, although it follows traditional methods, feels modern in its outlook. A large part of the hard work goes into the vines which are kept in immaculate condition and tended to with individual care rather than a blanket growing policy. Organic principles are followed but to allow flexibility in difficult years certification is not sought. Grape selection is of high importance with a table de tri used in the cellars to sort through the hand selected grapes.
Sebastian Cathiard took over production from his father Sylvain in 2011 but has continued the Domaine’s established style with a heavy focus on the vineyards. The only real change is in the amount of new oak used, the argument being too much oak can mask the more subtle elements of the terroir they are trying to harness.
All this hard work goes into producing wines that are bright, full of energy and with a reputation for purity that has gained them a serious following. It has also ensured prices are fairly high with even the village wines setting you back a fair bit. However, the argument can be made that Cathiard’s village wines are of better quality than some producers Premier Crus. Classification does not always delineate quality.
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2014 was a very good vintage in Cote de Nuits
2014 was a good vintage for red and an excellent vintage for white wines in Burgundy
Other 2014 Cote de Nuits
2014 Domaine Bruno Clair Marsannay Rose: £19
2014 Hudelot Baillet Chambolle Musigny VV: £67
2014 Robert Chevillon Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Perrieres: £105
2014 Domaine Tortochot Le Chambertin Grand Cru: £245
2014 Jean-Marc Millot Echezeaux: £245
2014 Georges Noellat Vosne-Romanee Les Beaux Monts: £245
2014 Domaine Fourrier Clos Saint-Jacques Cuvee Centenaire Gevrey-Chambertin Premier Cru (150cl): £2550