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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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