2013 Vosne Romanee Les Suchots Sylvain Cathiard

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Average critic rating : 94.0 points



The 2013 Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru les Suchots, which sees 100% new oak (reduced to two-thirds next year), has an intense, candied bouquet whereby the strawberry coulis and kirsch scents permeate through that carapace of new wood. The palate is medium-bodied with supple tannins, quite racy acidity and superb mineralité on the focused finish. It will require several years to absorb the new wood, but it will be worth the wait. It is a brilliant follow-up to the 2012. ||Following the epic retrospective of Domaine Sylvain Cathiard last summer, which included some quite astonishing wines from previous generations, I was looking forward to returning to this address in Vosne. I was more intrigued to see how Sylvain’s son Sebastien is moving the estate forward after intimating a change in tact, a reassessment of their approach to new oak that has tended to typecast the wines. And I was pleased to find Sebastien acting upon his words in assiduous fashion, though the dearth of fruit in 2013 precluded him from reducing the level of new oak to the figure he has achieved in 2014. “There was a lot of rain,” he told me. “I had to treat the vineyard thirteen times, the same number of times as in 2012. But there is 25% less crop in 2013 than last year.” Sebastien told me that he commenced the picking in Chambolle-Musigny and Nuits Saint Georges on October 5 and harvested over the following four days. Of course, he needed to apply a strict sorting of grapes, which was done both in the vineyard and then using a vibrating sorting table in the winery. The total cuvaison was around 30 days (at least for the Vosne Malconsorts) during which he practiced 8 to 10 pigeages, gentle in order to avoid astringency. During élevage, oak levels were tweaked downward, mainly 50% for the premier crus, 60% for the Chambolle, but the Romanée-Saint-Vivant continuing to be matured entirely in new wood.||It was another strong showing of wines from Sebastien. With such a gilded portfolio of premier crus there is always going to be considerable potential to craft outstanding wines. Although his solitary grand cru is an outstanding, dare I say "dashing," Romanée-Saint-Vivant, it was actually the Vosne-Romanée les Suchots ’13 that left me breathless with anticipation. Les Suchots is not actually my favorite Vosne premier cru - I'm a more Malconsorts kind of man. But here was one of a number of sublime examples from Cathiard that encapsulated everything great in Pinot Noir: the purity, finesse, sophistication and charm that reach their apotheosis around Vosne. The veneer of polished new oak remains extant, but my impression is that Sebastien is less hidebound to cooperages than his father and will take a judicious approach in the future, assessing each cuvee on its own merits and using more when he feels it will enhance the wine, less when it will do likewise. | eRobertParker.com.January, 2015

Sylvain Cathiard: The Importance

“Cathiard is now among the very very best producers in Vosne-Romanée,” writes Steve Öhman, fully corroborating Allen Meadows’ judgements that “there is no one hotter in Burgundy these days than Sylvain Cathiard” and that “the Cathiard wines are hardly a secret anymore but they deserve to be better known still.” Indeed, Cathiard has completed an unusually rapid rise to fame in the last decade or less, as Neil Martin attests, “the name is presently revered as one of the top exponents of Vosne-Romanée” thanks to “a glittering array of parcels” in this village and beyond, also encompassing some very old vines Nuits-Saint-Georges and Chambolle-Musigny.

Sylvain Cathiard: The Insight

This small family domaine farms a total of 4.2 hectares split over 11 plots, so production is naturally limited, above all for the glorious Pinot Noir grown in the minute 0.18 hectare plot at the southern end of Romanée Saint Vivant Grand Cru (or RSV), hemmed in between the Domaine Dujac and Domaine Robert Arnoux, and conspicuously crowded by the large tranche belonging to Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. In the hands of Cathiard it results in something very special, with “wonderful depth and simply superb length,” according to Allen Meadows, while for Neil Martin the Cathiard RSV is “a wine that God would make if he were a winemaker.”


The Vosne-Romanée Les Malconsorts vineyard has been gaining attention, particularly since 2005, when Dujac and Hubert de Montille snapped up and divided the old Domaine Thomas holdings here. Clive Coates reviews the newcomers like this: “These both produce excellent wine. So do Lamarche, Bichot (Clos Frantin) and Alain Hudelot-Noëllat. The best wines, however, today come from Sylvain Cathiard.” John Gilman even elevates this Premier Cru above the Cathiard RSV, calling it “the crown jewel in the cellar,” and Steve Öhman sees it the same way: “In my view the Malconsorts is sort of a signature wine for this fine domaine…  yes I know the RSV is better…  but it’s still possible to find and pay for the Malconsorts and experience the Cathiard magic.”


The same can be said of Cathiard’s other Premier Crus, such as Vosne-Romanée Les Suchots, situated between the Grands Crus of Richebourg and Echezeaux; Vosne-Romanée Aux Reignots, known for its elegance and shared with such growers as Louis-Michel Liger-Belair; and Vosne-Romanée En Orveaux, where Clive Coates again proclaims that: “the star in is the brilliant Sylvain Cathiard.”


Cathiard’s other holdings are impressive for their vine age. While most of his Premier Crus are 35 to 45 years old, the parcel in Chambolle-Musigny Les Clos de l’Orme was planted in 1951, producing stunningly perfumed expressions of the village. Meanwhile the two Premier Crus produced in Nuits-Saint-Georges, Aux Murgers and Aux Thorey, are both endowed with stunningly concentrated vines no younger than fifty,  but sometimes sixty or seventy years old, offering intense earthy complexity. Cathiard also makes excellent Nuits-Saint-Georges and Vosne-Romanée Villages Pinot Noirs.

Sylvain Cathiard: The Background

The wines are made as one might expect at a small domaine, where from 1969 to 2011 everything was done by Sylvain, his wife Marinette, and his son Sébastien. The fruit gets completely de-stemmed after rigorous sorting, with no fining or filtering since 2000. In 2011 Sébastien Cathiard fully took over and oversaw the completion of a new cellar. Since then he has been impressing critics by refining the house style and slightly reducing the use of new oak.

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