Thursday, May 1, 2008

Montrachet & Meursault – Thurs., 4/24/08

This was a busy day with 4 winery appointments on my calendar and no detailed map. Fortunately all were quite close to Beaune, and I was able to drive into each little village and either find the name of the winery on a sign or stop and ask someone for help. In the first village of Meursault, I had to go into a tobacco shop and ask for directions. The very kind man drew me a map to arrive at Domaine Henri Germain et Fils. The owner only spoke French, but we managed quite fine as I had already translated all of my questions into French and can generally follow what people are saying. Our first stop was the vineyard where I learned that almost everyone in Burgundy uses the single guyot system of pruning with 4 to 6 buds -- top producers limiting to 4 buds with 4 bunches per vine. We then toured the cellars and tasted through 7 wines. They had more minerality and higher acidity than Macon. I ended up buying the 2006 Meursault-Charmes Premier Cru for $35E.

Next stop was the very famous village of Puligny-Montrachet where I visited Domaine Louis Carillon et Fils. This conversation was also in French, but we immediately went to the cellars and tasted out of barrel as we went through the interview. I had a great time and he showed me how to do battonage and light the sulfur wicks for barrel cleaning. The wines here were incredible, with layers of complexity (fruit, minerality, spice), concentrated, racy flavors and a very long finish. He had sold out of all 2005 and 2006, but I was still able to taste many of the 2006’s and some of the 2007 out of barrel. We tasted 9 wines, ending with the 2006 Batard Montrachet Grand Cru selling for $70 euros. It was very elegant with minerality, high acid, and a long finish. Afterwards I drove around the village and took photos of the 4 grand cru vineyards outside the town – including the very famous Le Montrachet vineyard. They are all marked with signs and have lovely stone walls around them.

For lunch, I headed back to Beaune and checked into my new apartment hotel called Golf Garden in the small village of Levernois – 3k from Beaune. It was a wonderful large, sunny apartment with a balcony where I had lunch and could see the golf course. The day had turned very warm and sunny, and I was very happy to be in such a beautiful place.

After lunch, I drove to my 3rd appointment in Chassagne-Montrachet (30 min from my hotel) and had a delightful visit at Domaine Bernard Moreau with Alexandre. He spoke English and we immediately went into the vineyard where I was able to learn all of the technical details. Next was the full cellar tour and then a tasting of 9 wines (spitting of course), including an Aligote which I had never tried before (citrus, mineral, high acid, very refreshing). My favorite was a 2006 Premier Cru Grande Rochettes for $35E. Unfortunately, he was over-allocated and I could not buy any wines. We also tasted 2 pinots which I thought were wonderful with strawberry floral nose, velvety texture and good balance with refined tannins. The 2006 Premier Cru – Le Cardeauses was a great value at $22E, but he said it is more difficult to sell pinot noir from Chassange, since the village is known more for chardonnay – despite the fact that they make 50% pinot.

We ended the visit with a discussion of the difference between the villages, and he said he viewed Chassagne-Montrachet as having more power, structure and fruit; whereas Puligny-Montrachet is known for elegance, minerality and pure fruit. I would add that the Meursault were broader with slightly lower acidity and more apple flavors. Then I headed to Pommard for my last appointment (see next blog).

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