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Jean-François Coche (and since 1999 his son Raphaël) produces wines that you are often mandated to drink – but all too often (perhaps) for the wrong reason! In French restuarants – i.e restaurants in France – particularly so. Why? ‘The price stoopid – look it’s only 120 Euros…’. At first glance that might not sound a relative bargain, but noting that the same bottle maybe costs 3-5 times that in a more anglo-saxon (based) restaurant, many a ‘diner’ will forget that they wanted Gevrey with their beef bourguignonne and take such a white instead. This is the result of a critic induced feeding frenzy; “Jean-François Coche” – JFC if I may – “is possibly the greatest maker of white burgundy” (apparently) and has the attendant prices to match.

The prices are largely outside of the control of JFC, his ex-cellar prices are not so high – at least if there was some wine left to sell! – but the middlemen continue to make hay while the sun shines. Whilst Robert Parker in the late 1980′s and early 90′s may have brought Domaine Coche-Dury to the attention of the wine-buying masses, the domaine’s reputation was already (for some time) high in France. Jean-François’ father, Georges, had entered many competitions with the domaine’s wines and his collection of gold medals had already ensured that many top restaurants already listed the wines in an era before marks out of 100 were considered de rigeur.

The domaine

The holdings amount to ~9 hectares with a portfolio including Corton Charlemagne, Meursault Perrieres, Caillerets, Narvaux, Rougeots, Vireuils and Chevalières plus more recently a Puligny Enseignières. There are also reds in Auxey-Duresses, Monthelie, Pommard and a 1er Cru Volnay which, yield permitting, can sometimes be split into Clos des Chênes and Taillepieds – the majority of cuvées by number are Meursault with 12 different parcels only one of which one is red, but a major portion of production is given over to generic regional wines including an Aligoté.

The yields are low, partly from a high vine age, partly from planting density and particularly from short pruning – “green harvesting is already too late” – though he will still use it in extremis as in 2004. If JFC’s wines are famous for one thing (other than price) it is the oak treatment – some love, some hate. Clearly it is not such a high new oak percentage (around 50%), but given an average 22 months in barrel it is time enough for the oak to flex it’s muscles. Seasoned observers point to a little less oak influence on young wines post-1999.

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