Auxey-Duresses – the appellation in which Agnès Paquet works and has built one of the most exciting and innovative reputations around today – was not always known by that name. Prior to 1928 it was simply Auxey, and before that it was Aucé, before which it was a variety of other Roman names dating right back to 859. Then, in the late 1920’s it followed the trend in the Cote d’Or and added the name of one of its top vineyards, and Auxey- Duresses was born.
Nothing remains the same forever, and the development not only of this appellation but also one of its star producers, the Domaine Agnès Paquet, is testament to this. As far back as the 1950’s, the Paquet’s have held vine parcels here, but until the new millennium, these were rented to local vignerons. When the Paquet’s decided to sell up, Agnès stepped in and took them on herself. She did things the proper way, however, studying her craft and progressing from apprentice to proprietor and qualified winemaker, all the time adding more and more vine parcels. Over the years she has produced highly unique wines under her own name.
Having renovated the old stone barn beside her home, Agnès now produces appellation Bourgogne in both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from 31 acres of land. While half of her domain is given over to producing these wines, she also has significant vineyards in Auxey-Duresses, Pommard, Saint-Aubin, Chassagne-Montrachet and the Haute-Côte in Meloisey. Terroir Is key for her winemaking – she follows organic and biodynamic principles, having banished chemical herbicides from 2004 onwards. Using manual harvests, indigenous yeasts and barrel fermentation, her wines afford every opportunity for the land to express itself through the grape.
From September 2020, some excellent wines from her 2018 crop will be available to ship through Elden Selections:
Auxey-Duresses Blanc Patience No 11 2018 – Agnès uses 350 liter barrels (30% new) for this exceptional Auxey cuvee, which is only made in years that she thinks it propitious. The wine spends 12 months in the wood, then 4 months in steel to sharpen the focus. This is a serious food wine, voluptuous and rich, with deep fruit and great structure
Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2018 – Partly raised in steel with a small percentage of oak, this is a beautiful Pinot, a beautiful Bourgogne and a real pleasure to drink.
Bourgogne Chardonnay 2018 – this Chardonnay from strong limestone soils in the Hautes Cotes is crunchy, like biting into the grape bunch, with fantastic freshness and good acidity on the finish.
And finally, her Chassagne-Montrachet Les Battaudes 2018 – a single vineyard Chassagne, from a vineyard just below the premier cru ‘Morgeot’, this is a deep rich wine from a clay soil. Great earthy texture, but at the same time airy and elegant.
Agnès works one of the most beautiful areas of countryside in France, with high-quality terroir to boot. Auxey-Duresses has a high number of winemakers proportionate to its small number of residents – at least 25 vignerons for a total population of around 350. The nearby hamlet of Petit-Auxey holds the key to the origins of its slightly larger neighbor. It was one of the first Celtic settlements here along roads built by the Romans. The vines continue onwards, past Petit-Auxey and on to Melin.
Wine is akin to a religion in these parts – hardly surprising given the region’s rich history, and the fact that Auxey-Duresses was formerly a property of Cluny abbey, which at one time produced both grains and grapes here. It seems those prayers for good harvests and great wines are still being answered here.