The famous Bristish Master of Wine Jasper Morris, who lives in Burgundy, has just published his first report on the 2016 vintage. Château de Meursault comes as one of the Top Producers for most appellations.
Château de Meursault
The Château de Meursault has been revived under the ownership of Olivier Halley, with Stéphane Follin-Arbelet running the business, along with the Château de Marsannay, and Emmanuel Escutenaire in charge of making the wines. If the property has more the look and feel of a Bordeaux Château (they were expecting a big group from a cruise ship when I tasted), the more important factor is the work being done to put these properties back among the forefront of Burgundy producers.
Changes needed to be made in the vineyard – looking after 60 hectares of predominantly old vines and moving viticulture towards organic practices – and in the cellar where there has been wholesale refurbishment and significant fine tuning of the winemaking. The whites have achieved a high standard over the last few vintages. The reds too, though these are quite muscular wines, not aimed at those looking for a more ethereal style.
2016 delivered only half crop at Meursault, a quarter in Marsannay. Picking began on 21st September with whites and reds coming in at much the same time, as each vineyard ripened. Both colours were still in barrel, unracked, when I tasted in early October 2017, having been put on fine lees from the start. Less new wood was used than normal, and less whole bunch fermentation for the reds. Emmanuel Escutenaire noted that the colours came out very easily in 2016.
Bourgogne Blanc, Clos du Château 88*
The Clos covers 8 ha, mostly in Bourgogne Blanc but also AC Meursault (Sous la Velle) Pale lemon colour, with a ripe fruit nose. Quite perfumed, with fresh apricot, pineapple and the sweetness of lemon balm. Excellent personality and this continues on the palate. Lovely fruit acid balance.
Savigny-lès-Beaune Blanc 89
From Les Peuillets, very ripe so picked early, and then cooler sites Les Goudelettes and Les Gollardes which are picked at the end of harvest. Attractive primrose colour, fresh lemon notes, beautifully chosen oak, the fruit continues right across the palate. I am not usually a great fan of white Savigny but this is a good example.
From five small plots: En Ormeau, Sous la Velle, Grands Charrons, Meix Chavaux and almost 100 year old vines in Les Dressolles. Plenty of energy behind, good tension, a little touch of liquorice, a sound middleweight Meursault.
Meursault, Le Limozin 90
From the upper part, half a hectare touching Poruzots. Pale colour and very backward nose. A little bit of wood toast emerges slowly. Almost some tannins in this, which give a drier finish. Quite tightly wound at the moment.
Meursault, Clos des Grands Charrons 92*
1 hectare of a genuine clos, at the top of the vineyard. Beautiful pale primrose with a faint light green aspect. Lovely quality to the nose, a little bit of banana in with the white fruit. Intense, fine, delicious, this is excellent for its level. Proper intensity while staying balanced.
Terroir d’Exception (Bourgogne Blanc) 90
One hectare, planted in an old quarry between different sections of Meursault Perrières in 1977, but just granted Bourgogne status. Sold at Meursault price. Escaped the frost in 2016. Pale fresh yellow, the nose is a bit backward, but there is some depth. Richer and softer, yet still with a salty tension along with some muscle. But less class than the Clos des Grands Charrons.
Meursault 1er Cru, Charmes 92
The Château has 4.6 hectares in total, from six plots, four in the upper part and two below. Fullish yellow with a powerful muscular nose, some frost damage, powerful, indeed exceptionally so, but a bit clunky at the finish. Long though, with some fresh apricot notes.
Meursault 1er Cru, Les Charmes Dessus 94*
Charmes Dessus comes from just the best two of the top four plots, covering one hectare. Fine pale primrose, much more finesse to the nose than the regular Charmes, this is worth spending time over. Very complete, absolutely the essence of Charmes, long, fine suave texture, balanced and very long.
Meursault 1er Cru, Perrières 93
Above the Clos des Perrières with their Terroir d’Exception plot in between. One hectare in one plot, on the left excellent plant material, and ten years older than the right. Full primrose, oak, a faint touch of banana. This has impressive density and then a fine mineral touch behind. Good medium weight Perrières, with very good balance.
Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru, Champ Canet 94*
Above Domaine Prieur’s Combettes. Very old and degenerate vines but too good to pull out, so individual vines are replaced. Fine pale colour with a fresh lively almost herbal nose from faint reduction. Very good energy on the palate, the mini reduction gives a fine tonic energy, very long with a steely thread through the middle, very successful.
Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru, Champgain 93
One third hectare, 2016 being the third vintage since they bought the plot. Old vines with some virus. Mid primrose, middleweight, aromatic, slightly salty and with herbal notes. Quite elegant behind, stretches out nicely, complex finish.
Corton Vergennes, Grand Cru 93
Mid primrose in colour, white fruit apparent on the nose, a big soft rich mouthful yet balanced by a tighter finish, opulent wine easy to appreciate yet still fine. Finishes nicely on some floral notes.
Bourgogne Rouge 87
From 4ha in Les Boutières in Aloxe-Corton, but not classified as such, and 2ha below Pommard. Concentrated dark colour. Quite rich firm fruit, a bit of walnut, not a supple style but with good structure behind. Some raspberry fruit. Then tight with acidity and tannins as well as fruit.
Heavily frosted alas, making an impressive if atypical wine. Rich dense purple, quite massive in style. This came in at 14% natural and it is massive for the vintage and appellation. Amazingly dense fruit, but what about finesse? Some acidity at the back, tannins less evident. More black fruit than red. I am quite impressed by this but cannot fall in love with it.
Savigny-lès-Beaune 1er Cru, Les Peuillets 89
Equally dense purple black colour, but a slightly more recognisably Savigny nose. More elegance here and with good tension, excellent length, slightly more in red fruit with dark cherries alongside. Good acid balance.
Beaune 1er Cru, Les Cent Vignes 89
Old vines 50 plus recently converted to organic farming. The rows continue into Fèves, see below. Glowing purple and a fine pure classic fruit, this has the softer elegance of Beaune, moderate weight through the middle, fair length. A gentle mid-slope Beaune but still fully ripe.
Beaune 1er Cru, Fèves 91
0.7 ha of the 2.5 ha block shared with Cent Vignes, but quite different. Dense dark purple with a sprightly vigorous nose, lots more energy fine fresh cherry and raspberry. Excellent energy to this. More harmony with an attractive velvety feel.
Beaune 1er Cru, Grèves, Les Trois Journaux 92
From one hectare mid slope next to Bouchard’s Vigne de l’Enfant Jesus on the right. 50 year old vines. Full deep purple with a rich deep nose, some roses in amongst the fruit. 30% whole bunches shows in the lifted finish. Firm but ripe tannins behind, a vin de garde.
Pommard 1er Cru, Clos des Epenots 92
From the Petits Epenots sector, in the middle of de Courcel’s holding. Very intense purple colour, with rich velvety fruit on the nose, even a bit of chocolate. Lovely balance in the mouth though, dark raspberry, still a chocolate note or two, good acidity. Long with fine-boned tannins. Interesting to see if this develops more towards the muscular, or retains its Epenots elegance.
Volnay 1er Cru, Clos des Chênes 91-94
2.5 ha of very old vines. Tiny berries, resisting all disease, must be very good plant material. Rich deep purple black, very intense colour. Massive for this appellation, but a rich juicy fruit, good structure behind, the oak reappears at the back. This is an impressive wine, albeit not quite what I expect for the vineyard.
Corton, Grand Cru 92
Half a hectare in a single plot between Rognets and Vergennes. Dense purple, the oak shows more than the fruit at first sniff. Starts gently, perhaps a touch of sucrosity, then some acidity behind, not a rugged style of Corton.