This list of inhabitants of the area of very special vineyards, tucked on the hill overlooking the town of Beaune (which lends its name to this entire half of Burgundy) has been steadily decreasing. The majority of the vines are now owned by the larger négotiants: Bouchard, Chanson, Drouhin, Jadot, Latour…
But just north of town lies the 1er cru vineyard, Clos du Roi, where the small family operation of Ampeau has been farming since the 1950s. Since the beginning, the Ampeaus have farmed their vines with a high leaf canopy, magnifying ripening through enhanced photosynthesis, thus harvesting earlier than his neighbors, picking ripe, but with vivid and striking acidity.
They’ve always held back substantial portions of the wine they’ve made going back decades. I was told, it had something to do with French tax loophole that I didn’t completely understand.
The result is that throughout their property is a treasure trove of catacombs, each housing a dozen or so wines from an amazing array of vineyards (Meursault, Perrieres, Charmes, La Piece sous le Bois, Sous la Velle, in Puligny, Combettes, Volnay, Santenots, Savigny, Lavieres, Pommard Vaumuriens, Auxey Ecusseaux and Beaune Clos du Roi) in vintages going back 40+ years.
Only 2 left in stock
Today, Michel Ampeau takes appointments during day. In 2014, Michel suffered a stroke. He could no longer drive a tractor or perform cellar work. For over five years, not a single bottle from some of the coldest and deepest cellars in Burgundy was shipped stateside. Michel progressed slowly, but surely. Finally, in late 2018, he called to tell us that he could finally prepare and ship again, just a little bit at a time, and no more than 3 appellations/vintages per order. I traveled to Burgundy in January of 2019 with two others. We spent two days tasting dozens of perfectly aged Meursaults, Pulignys, Volnays, Savignys and Pommards, beginning in 1976 (!), in the cellar 26 stone steps beneath the family’s home. The wines at Ampeau are in a kind of suspended animation, always seeming to be 20 years younger than what the label reads. After the tasting, I took the remainder of each wine back ton my room at Le Montrachet, just up the road in Puligny. Then I continued my evaluation. In the end, I settled on a few selections, the one of which I am happy to offer today.
The color of the Savigny-les-Beaunes 1999 defies its age. It is a dark purple shade all the way to the rim. The nose is awesome, showing off a bouquet of dark fruits laced with baking spices and a hint of mint. The earth-tinged fruit is deep and concentrated; the 99s have always had incredible fruit. Yet the wine is light on its feet, dancing across the palate, very fresh and quite long. This is wine to experience over a few hours, it’s got many layers, take your time with it.
What you shouldn’t take your time with is clicking the buy button. This amazing red Burgundy, with 21 year of bottle age, is perfectly aged, stored, shipped and can delivered to directly your front door. Don’t miss it