Burgundy Day 2 – 05 June 2007

by Mike Supple

Today’s tastings had us travelling from Vosne-Romanee in the Cote de Nuits down to Chassagne-Montrachet in the Cote de Beaune. We tasted more amazing wines, met some great wine makers, and continued to explore the intense local cuisine.

Most of what we are tasting is still 2006 white barrel samples, but the various winemakers brought out some of the big guns today, both while tasting and at the meals. Burgundy truly is an exceptional wine region that can show how incredibly smooth, silky, elegant and seductive a well made Pinot Noir can be.

Domaine Mongeard-Mugneret


We are staying in the Hotel Le Richebourg, located in the south end of Vosne-Romanee, just north of Nuits-St-Georges. Turns out that our balconies look directly out on to Domaine Mongeard-Mugneret – which made going there to taste this morning a rather convenient short walk.

Mongeard-Mugneret is a well respected name in red Burgundy world wide, and I greatly anticipated this part of our trip. Mongeard-Mugneret wines are known to be a very classic style of Burgundy, always focused and pure regardless of the vintage, with an amazing balance and silkiness on the palate.

We met with Vincent Mongeard, the owner and wine-maker since 1997. That date is however somewhat misleading. The winery and cellars are all located below the house in which Vincent was raised, and when we asked how long he has been making the wine for Mongeard-Mugneret, he simply laughed and said, “Depuis la naissance” (since birth).

While somewhat quiet and reserved at first Vincent really opened up as the tasting progressed, and shared many of his philosophies on where Burgundy is headed, how the 2006 vintage is coming along (to which he compared his reds somewhat to 2002), and how pricing works (or at least should in his mind) in Burgundy. Much of this we have on video, which will be viewable right here shortly.

After tasting through several of his wines in different vintages, I couldn’t help but ask how he maintained such finesse in his wines in both good and lesser vintages. Particularly in 2003 and 2005 when the hotter weather has made so many of the other 2005 reds much more bold, fruit forward and extracted. For Vincent, the most important aspect of making the wine (and the reason they always have such a silky quality) is picking the grapes at the optimum time for the proper balance of acid and sugar. This in turn makes the wine incredibly balanced, which brings out the smooth mouthfeel. In 2005, the power of the wine was toned down some by his use of 100% new oak barrels. This is generally not something he does, but felt that the 2005 was a vintage that not only could be, but must be, toned with strong oak. That being said, none of his 2005s have an overpowering new oak quality to them. The oak that he uses is very expense: he uses only very dry oak. Making a barrel with such dry oak is difficult, as it lends itself to breaking more easily. However, the dry oak has such tight grains that it softens the wine without adding too much flavor or aroma to the wine.

2006 was a vintage “tres mechant”, to which hand-sorting played a major roll. They had to be very selective as to which berries made through to guarantee a certain intensity, quality and purity of fruit. For Mongeard-Mugneret, 2006 is a very good vintage that expresses the individual terroir of each vineyard very well.

2006 Mongeard-Mugneret Savigny-les-Beaune 1er Cru Les Narbontins
(Notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Mongeard-Mugneret Vosne Romanee Villages
Still undergoing malolactic fermentation.
(Notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Mongeard-Mugneret Pernand Vergelesses 1er Cru
Malo has finished and the wine has been sulfured.
A hint of candied licorice aromas dance behind rich red cherry. The new oak is somewhat present on the front of the palate, but this is a big wine with big tannins. Powerful raspberry and candied cherries lead into a sweet finish accented by a mineral quality. This is a nicely concentrated wine. -Mike Supple

2006 Mongeard-Mugneret Echezeaux Grand Cru
(Notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Mongeard-Mugneret Grands Echezeaux Grand Cru
Gamy aromas with rustic hints to the fruit. Toasty notes up font are followed by very intense, focused fruit with blueberry characteristics. In the mouth the wine is rich and toasty with spicy hints of vanilly. Dark and rich, yet very nicely balanced with fairly powerful tannic structure. Nice lingering minerality. -Mike Supple

2005 Mongeard-Mugneret Pernand-Vergelesses 1er Cru (N/A)
This wine was unfortunately corked and there was no back-up immediately available. -Mike Supple

2005 Mongeard-Mugneret Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru
Hints of cranberry on the nose over sweet red cherry and blackberry, followed by light notes of violet. In the mouth? Wow! Elegance, finesse and purity. Very bold and full, yet remains balanced with a fantastic ripe tannic structure. The depth of fruit is amazing, and the sweet dark flavors linger for a long time. -Mike Supple

2004 Mongeard-Mugneret Vosne-Romanee 1er Cru Les Orveaux (91)
(Notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2004 Mongeard-Mugneret Echezeaux Vieilles Vignes Grand Cru (90-93)
The grapes for this wine all come from a specific plot within Echezeaux that is separate from where Vincent gets his other Echezeaux grapes. These vines are aged 75+ years, and have never been replanted. Rather, they are letting the vines continue to produce until the quality drops or the yields get too low, at which point they will all be ripped out and replanted.
Heavy dill aromas up front are followed by more subtle, cool dark fruits. Light wet stone leads to aromas of cassis and blackberry. The dill is still bold on the palate, followed by a sweet, dark core of fruit. This is a full yet very soft and lush wine with a nice intensity of tannins on the back-end. -Mike Supple

2003 Mongeard-Mugneret Grands-Echezeaux Grand Cru (92-95)
(Notes to come.) -Mike Supple

1985 Mongeard-Mugneret Echezeaux Vieilles Vignes Grand Cru (97+)
The aromas are rich and toasty. Sweet red cherries with a touch of dried tobacco are supported by hints of roast tomato, pecorino romano cheese and rich blackberries and raspberries. The mouthfeel is simply outstanding. This is a very seductive, elegant wine. Rich raspberry and cherry flavors are accented by light white and black truffle. The tannins are still powerful, and the life of the fruit suggests this could age another 5-10 years easily. -Mike Supple

Bernard Morey et Fils


Shaun Bishop with Bernard Morey

A 45 minute taxi-ride away from Mongeard-Mugneret, and we were in the heart of Chassagne-Montrachet, waiting to wander through the caves of Bernard Morey. When Bernard’s father, Albert Morey, retired in 1981, he divided his property among his two sons, Bernard and Jean Marc. Bernard makes many wines both from the properties he acquired, as well as juice and grapes he acquires as a negociant. In an average vintage, his total production is around 10,000 cases and is divided into approximately 60% white and 40% red, 80% of which is Domaine wine. His two sons, Thomas and Vincent, having completed internships in Bordeaux and Alsace, help Bernard in the vineyards and the winery. Bernard is also the Mayor of Chassagne-Montrachet, and has been since 1995.

Bernard makes his wines in a fairly intense and powerful style, and therefore usually waits to harvest his grapes, giving them time to ripen further. This vintage however was somewhat different due to the heat. The grapes were ripening so quickly during harvest that a few days of waiting could have meant a jump of a percent or more in alcohol.

Many of Bernard’s vineyards are on hillsides, which proved to be an extra boon this year: a lot of rain fell in August, and rather than diluting the intensity of his grapes, the limestone hillsides provided good drainage to appropriately get rid of the water so it did not negatively affect the grapes.

An interesting side note: Bernard feels that St-Aubin is potentially one of the best rising values in white Burgundy. Until recently, due to the location of the vineyards, the grapes did not ripen quite enough to give the full depth and character of many other vineyards. For this reason, the price of St-Aubin has remained lower. Thanks to the recent warming trend across the globe, the grapes of St-Aubin are able to reach full maturity, and the wines are increasing in quality faster than they are increasing in price.

2006 Bernard Morey Bourgogne Blanc
(Notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Bernard Morey St-Aubin Villages
(Notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Bernard Morey St-Aubin 1er Cru Le Puits
(Notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Bernard Morey St-Aubin 1er Cru Les Charmois
(Notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Bernard Morey Santenay 1er Cru Passetemps
(Notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Bernard Morey Beaune 1er Cru Les Greves
The Greves vineyard was the last white vineyard harvested by Bernard. He also grows Pinot Noir in the vineyard, and rather than harvesting twice, he waited a few days for the Pinot to be ready and harvested them both at once.
(Notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Bernard Morey Puligny-Montrachet
(Notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Bernard Morey Chassagne-Montrachet Villages
(Notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Bernard Morey Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Macherelles
(Notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Bernard Morey Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Chenevottes
(Notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Bernard Morey Chassagne-Montrachet Clos St. Jean
(Notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Bernard Morey Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Baudines
(Notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Bernard Morey Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Embrazees
(Notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Bernard Morey Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Morgeot
(Notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Bernard Morey Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Caillerets
(Notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Bernard Morey Chassagne Montrachet 1er Cru Dents de Chien
(Notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Bernard Morey Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Vide Bourse
(Notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Bernard Morey Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru La Truffiere
(Notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Bernard Morey Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru
(Notes to come.) -Mike Supple

After the tasting, we walked down to a local restaurant of which Bernard is part owner. On the way, we passed the Domaine of Michel Niellon who happened to be outside at the time. And what else should he be wearing, but *gasp* a Robert Mondavi shirt. Who says the French don’t drink American wine? Oh yeah, everyone in Bordeaux did. Perhaps the Burgundians are just a little more adventurous than the Bordelais.

Lunch at “Le Chassagne”
Wines:
1959 Morey Puligny Montrachet
This wine is a blend of two 1er Cru vineyards: Champ-Gain and Morgeot. We tasted this wine blind. Rich and golden yellow in color, but without a hint of brown. The nose also smelled rather fresh, and the palate had such an intensity of acid and lively fruit, that we did not think it could be older than early to mid 1980s. Boy were we wrong! A light truffle aroma was present over rich creamy fruits. In the mouth the wine had a gorgeous texture with an amazing depth of fruit and minerality, leading to the long, lingering creamy, caramel finish.
1999 Morey Santenay 1er Cru Grand Clos Roussea

Food:
-Amuse Bouche: salmon wrapped in creme fraiche and sesame seeds; puff pastry with poppy seeds; fresh olives.
-Tuna tartare in an avacado and cream sauce
-Escargots and langoustines
-Sadre de Saone (wild Turbot) with white asparagus
-Assorted Cheeses

Domaine Vincent Girardin


That’s the last time I ask for a bottle of the house Chardonnay…

As is evidenced by the enormous number of wines in his portfolio, Vincent Girardin is one of the hardest working negociants in Burgundy (he also owns 37 acres of his own across Burgundy). He began working with some of the lesser known appellations in Burgundy, and makes some outstanding wines for great values. Once he had made a name for himself, he continued to grow, and now produced many great 1er Cru and Grand Cru wines as well. While he produces both red and white, today we were tasting only the 2006 whites at his cellar in Meursault.

In 2006 Vincent harvested his whites rather early, but wishes he had perhaps harvested even a bit earlier: the riper fruit gives a fatter, rounder wine with higher alcohol, but does not have as much acidic intensity. The alcohol content in his wines ranges from 13.5% – 14.5% in 2006. He has not stirred the lees in any of his wines, and is using drastically less new oak on his wines in 2006. He felt that doing this would allow the terroir to express itself better in each of his wines; while the wines might be somewhat less exuberant they will have more personality. The amount of new oak he is using in 2006 is approximately: 15% for Village wines, 25% for 1er Cru and 35% for Grand Cru.

2006 Vincent Girardin Puligny-Montrachet Vieilles Vignes
(Notes to come. ) -Mike Supple

2006 Vincent Girardin Meursault Les Narvaux
(Notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Vincent Girardin Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Abbaye de Morgeot
(Notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Vincent Girardin Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru La Romanee
(Notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Vincent Girardin Meursault 1er Cru Les Perrieres
(Notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Vincent Girardin Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Le Champ Gain
(Notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Vincent Girardin Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Perrieres
(Notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Vincent Girardin Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Folatieres
(Notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Vincent Girardin Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Combettes
(Notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Vincent Girardin Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Pucelles
(Notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Vincent Girardin Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Le Cailleret
(Notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Vincent Girardin Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru (92-94)
(Notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Vincent Girardin Quintessence de Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru
This is a small section of the vineyard entirely in the middle of the slope.
(Notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Vincent Girardin Bienvenues-Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru
(Notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Vincent Girardin Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru
(Notes to come.) -Mike Supple

2006 Vincent Girardin Chevalier-Montrachet Grand Cru
(Notes to come.) -Mike Supple

After the tasting we joined Vincent and his wife Veronique back at their house and met their two young sons (9 and 11) – potential great winemakers of the future! We were joined by Pascal Lachaux and his wife Florence (Arnoux) Lachaux of Domaine Robert Arnoux. We will be tasting the Arnoux wines on Friday.

We (minus the kids) went to an outstanding local restaurant in Puligny Montrachet, which is aptly named “Le Montrachet”. The game of food and wine continues…

Wine:
2004 Vincent Dancer Chassagne Montrachet La Romanee
1999 Olivier Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet Les Pucelles
-This wine was oxidized and past its prime already. Rather disappointing. If you have any of this in your cellar, try a bottle now, as you may want to drink it soon.
1999 Domaine Roulot Meursault Les Tessons, Clos de Mon Plaisir
1999 Pousse d’Or Volnay 1er Cru Caillerets Clos des 60 Ouvrees
1998 Domaine de Montille Pommard 1er Cru Les Grands Epenots

Dinner:
-Amuse bouche: langoustine, cheese puffs, cream pastry, chilled mache soup
-White and green asparagus with shaved Parmesan cheese
-Roasted lamb chops with golden potatoes, zucchini and tomatoes
-Fromages: Epoises, Citeaux, Cindre, Melic de Chambertin, Delice de Pommard

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