Why Jean-Jacques Confuron is Essential
Selected by Ashley Hausman MW
It's nearly impossible these days to point people in the direction of affordable red Burgundy — especially when they have an address in the Côte de Nuits, where all but one of the famed Grand Cru Pinot Noir vineyards reside. Real estate isn't cheap, and the combination of rising demand and inclement weather threatening the already-minuscule supply makes it all but a pipe dream to have access to this region anymore.
Still, there are a couple gems here and there that manage to have both pedigree and a prolific range in their portfolio — from Bourgogne and village-level wines that won't have you negotiating your firstborn on up to Romanée-Saint-Vivant (a bottle you might justify buying to share with your firstborn on their 21st birthday).
One such gem: Domaine Jean-Jacques Confuron, an estate whose story is not without a good dose of love, marriages, merging of vines, and all the twists and turns that make Burgundy so complicated and fascinating.
Jean Confuron fell in love with a girl from Primeaux. Together, they built J. Confuron in 1926 in this village. Their sons — Christian and Jean-Jacques — didn’t really see eye-to-eye and went their own ways with the vines they inherited. Unfortunately, Jean-Jacques died rather early in life, leaving his young daughter Sophie to step up.
Good-humored and entertaining, she jokes about how clueless she was back then, completely redirecting her path towards enology in a moment's notice. She fell for a fellow in class, Alain Meunier, and together they took on the domaine and began making changes that have fostered the esteemed reputation they have to this day. One impressionable lecture by soil genius Claude Bourguignon, and the couple knew quality was in the dirt. Beginning in the 1990s, they converted to organic viticulture, far ahead of their time due to a keen interest in soil health.
They are a warm and funny pair. Sophie is sarcastic and quick-witted — a storyteller animated with details and a fiery sense about her. Alain seems a bit more reserved but radiates thoughtfulness. When I visited, he was working in the vineyards. This is how they have kept the marriage, Sophie joked, “He does the vines, I do the wine!” If proof is on the palate, I would say they made it work perfectly.
Grapes: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay
Appellations/Cru: Nuits-Saint-Georges AOC, Grand Cru Chambolle-Musigny AOC, Grand Cru Romanée-Saint-Vivant AOC
No website listed
American Importer: Caveau Selections, Old World Wine Co.
Originally listed: October 2021
Wines to Seek Out
Their focus is Pinot Noir, as one would suspect when their holdings are sitting on prime terroir for it. Still, they make a tiny bit of Chardonnay and Aligoté as well. They tend towards de-stemming their fruit (Sophie: "I would never put in the wine what I wouldn't want in my mouth!") and they aren't shy about using new oak. Their wines are vivid, bold, and unapologetically robust. Yet, they hold the spirit and single-site specificity we all cherish so much from Burgundy — where your palate tells you where you are on the map.
With a good handful of these falling in the "Not Cheap But Affordable Especially On A Saturday Date Night and Damnit I Feel Like Burgundy" category, you can taste your way through the Côte de Nuits and the special parcels the Meuniers own.
Domaine Jean-Jacques Confuron Côte de Nuits-Villages Blanc 'La Montagne'
A rarity, as only about 3% of Confuron's production is Chardonnay, La Montagne always manages to deliver a healthy balance of ripe, opulent almost tropical fruit and still a fine line of minerality that brings you back home to Burgundy. It begs for rich, decadent halibut, risotto, or classic roast chicken.
Domaine Jean-Jacques Confuron Côte de Nuits-Villages “Vignottes”
This wine is always a delight on the nose — a fury of violets, game, warm soil and alpine fruit. It has lift and yet feels firm to the ground. This is exactly the wine you reach for when you are craving top shelf Pinot but simply can't justify the spend. A gorgeous insight into the character and essence of the Cote de Nuits.
Domaine Jean-Jacques Confuron Nuits-Saint-Georges “Fleurieres”
This wine always presents a pleasing paradox for the imagination. The fruits are somehow both brooding and buoyant, the tannins supple yet stately, the finishing flavors slightly rustic yet refined. It's charming and aspirational, demonstrating some of the aspects of a Gevrey-Chambertin while humbly remaining what it is — not trying to speak above the noise or proclaim to be more than it is. It is simply, wonderfully, exactly what “NSG” should be for a price that is easy-to-swallow more than once-in-a-great-while.
Domaine Jean-Jacques Confuron Grand Cru Chambolle-Musigny
Now we are getting into the business. Chambolle, when produced with care and respect, has the ability to transform you forever. It can be the thing that makes you grab the shovel and begin digging the Burgundy rabbit hole of your financial demise. If that sounds appealing (the former, not the latter), then this might be the place to start. Confuron takes care to maintain the exquisite texture Chambolle has inspired so many to try and articulate. Silken and supple, tight and focused, woven into harmonious, smoky, red and black fruit. These wines are consistently captivating in youth or with considerable cellar time.
Domaine Jean-Jacques Confuron Grand Cru Romanée-Saint-Vivant
If you are itching to take that bonus and spend it on a wine that will stand the test of time, then perhaps you will consider their Romanée-Saint-Vivant. Domaine Jean-Jacques Confuron is technically the 5th largest holder of this prized parcel … with less than 0.5 hectares. This wine carries a haunting perfume and unparalleled intensity on the palate. If you pull the trigger, do yourself a favor and wait at least a decade before pulling that cork. These wines tell the best stories much later in their lives.