There are not many naturalist wines in Burgundy. Currently, only Pacalet has broad notoriety, though his wines are extremely expensive. The region’s harsh climate is one reason, as is the delicacy of Pinot Noir and its susceptibility to heat and oxygen damage if no sulphur is used.
Burgundy’s cost of entry also means there are almost no young wine-makers starting their own domaines. But Julien Altaber had always wanted to do this and through hard work and the support of his mentor Dominique Derain (another naturalist in Burgundy) he has managed to set up a promising ‘naturalist’ négoce he has called Sextant, with some great fruit sources.
Julien derives his fruit from biodynamic vineyards in Saint Aubin, a small Burgundy village in the cote d’Or more known for white. His day job remains at Domaine Derain, which paid the bills and gave him experience while he built up his négoce, which started in 2007.
Vinification is bespoke here. Julien uses a unique vertical press that he believes keeps the juice pristine, and uses a wicker lid to de-stem gently. This is a no to low SO2 domaine. Julien uses no SO2 on incoming grapes or at bottling, but only sometimes occassionally during racking.
The wine is a wonderfully fruity concoction with acid and tannin to give it form. It is very pure but also energetic – juicy and mouthwatering – basically everything a basic Bourgogne should be but rarely is. The pricing is very fair and I would love to see this in Anglo-Canada (it is at the SAQ)
$30 USD at Bi-Rite, San Francisco