Wednesday, June 24, 2009

France Trip Day Five - Marsannay to Meursault

Instead of detailed notes like yesterday, I’m going to stick with more general impressions.

2007 in Burgundy
Based on our experience this trip, the 2007 vintage has produced wines vividly of their place, smacking of the characteristics that make a particular site special. They’re not particularly big or tannic – most of the wines are going to provide great drinking over the next five or so years – but they’re beautifully balanced, a pleasure to taste.

Bruno Clair, Marsannay
We tasted with winemaker Phillipe Brun – ‘07s out of bottle. The quality was uniformly excellent. After yesterday’s visit with Thibault Liger-Belair, whose philosophy is that the vigneron should do it all, from the vine to the bottle, the arrangement at Bruno Clair has been different for a long time – at least since my last visit in 1995. Bruno is in the vineyards pretty much non-stop, while Phillipe is in the cellar, pretty much non-stop. It seems to work out just fine.

After a Marsannay Rosé ’08, we tasted the following ‘07s:
Marsannay Vaudenelles
Marsannay Les Longeroies
Morey Saint-Denis en la Rue de Vergy
Vosne-Romanée Les Champs Perdrix
Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru la Petite Chapelle
Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Cazetiers – this is my favorite of the Gevrey 1er crus…
Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Clos Saint-Jacques
Chambertin Clos de Beze Grand Cru – 96 year old vines; so elegant
Bonnes Mares – fragrant, lavishly fruity, decadent wine.
Savigny-les-Beaune 1er Cru Les Dominodes – It may seem odd to taste this after a couple of Grand Crus, but Dominodes is always Bruno Clair’s biggest wine. It comes from 107 year old vines, and tastes of chocolate-covered cherries and raspberries; lush, powerful and concentrated. Unique.

Then a couple of older wines (yes, Phillipe poured them blind, and yes, I failed both times…):
Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Cazetieres ’02 – I thought it was pretty and delicate, so I guessed Clos St. Jacques.
Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Clos Saint-Jacques ’93 – Caroline’s birth year… this was gorgeous, full of mushrooms and cherries, long. I knew it was an older vintage, but I thought it was one of the Grand Crus.

Then a few ’07 whites:
Morey Saint-Denis en la Rue de Vergy Blanc – floral/peach/cherry/strawberry – yes, I’m talking about a white wine. A totally different expression of Chardonnay. Neat!
Marsannay Blanc – 20% Pinot Gris (aka Pinot Beurot); this had a neat sort of red fruit/mineral scent; delicate, fragrant and persistent. A delight.
Corton-Charlemagne – surprisingly blossomy for the appellation, but not necessarily for Bruno Clair’s expression of it. Still, there’s plenty of lemon candy/oak/mineral character, densely packed, long and promising.

Lunch at Chez Guy, Gevry-Chambertin
What a fantastic lunch! It was gorgeous outside, as it has been the whole trip in Burgundy, and we dined on the sidewalk here. We were served a wonderful amuse bouche – sort of a deconstructed gazpacho. Then we started the drinking with a bottle of Marsannay Rosé ’07 from Dupont-Tisserandot, which was perfect with my escargots on a bed of incredible tomato coulis. We could have stayed with the pink wine, it was so refreshing, but then I caught sight of a rarity on the wine list: Henri Gouges Nuits Saint-Georges Blanc Le Perrier ’04. We couldn’t even taste this wine, any vintage, at the domaine yesterday. Made from a rare mutation of Pinot Noir that produces a white grape, it’s as delicious as it is rare. It was matched by a filet of dorade on a bed of sautéed fennel. Awesome combination. We had a cheese course, I had a dram of cold Poire William, and we were on our way.

Thierry and Pascal Matrot, Meursault
After a too-quick siesta, we drove down to Meursault, got lost in the maze of streets around the centre ville, were rescued by a woman walking along, who first tried to tell us how to get to Matrot, then hopped in the car and directed us there herself. It was a nice start to the evening. We tasted with Thierry in the cellar, ‘07s from the bottle:
Bourgogne Chardonnay
Meursault – both of these first two are on our shelves at CWC…
Meursault-Blagny 1er Cru
Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Chalumeaux
Meursault-Charmes 1er Cru
Puligny-Montrachet “Quintessence” 1er Cru – this is a blend of Puligny-Chalumeaux and Puligny-Garenne in new oak (an aberration for Matrot). Like Thierry said: “Hey, this is wine, we have to have an exception a day. This is ours.”
Volnay Santenots 1er Cru – the only ’07 red we tasted, and beautiful.

2007 is a “Matrot vintage,” perfectly suited to the style of the domaine – pure, fresh, exquisitely balanced.

We then drove over to the Matrot’s home in Blagny, near the top of Meursault, on the edge of Puligny-Montrachet. This place is an oasis, and we were fortunate to be invited. We were met at the house by Thierry’s wife Pascal and two of their three daughters, Adele and Elsa. It is likely that Adele and Elsa, both of whom have completed their university studies in wine, will take over Domaine Matrot at some point in the future - but at 23 and 21 years of age, they have some traveling to do first. We sat outside and sipped on Meursault-Charmes ’05 before going inside for a wonderfully cozy dinner, starting with jamon peresille and salad, drinking Meursault-Blagny ’96. Our main course was perfectly cooked plain buttered pasta and simply roasted extremely fresh – according to Pascal it had been walking around earlier today – chicken. We drank Blagny La Piece sous le Bois 2000 (this was very good) and 1999 (this was terrific). Finally three great cheeses (Comté, Saimantan, Citeaux) and Blagny la Piece sous le Bois 1988 – fantastic. The Matrots brought us into their house and shared their world with us; it was an extraordinary gift. Considering their day starts at about 5:30am, we left before 10pm, and drove back down into Meursault, surrounded by vineyards, as the light faded from the Cote. A wonderful day. Bon nuit.


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