Posted on April 11th, 2008
This is the first in a series of three posts on the Burgundy wine-tasting I did in Mitchell & Son on April 10th.
Background on the Burgundy wine tastings
There were a variety of wines from Burgundy on show, the reds being Pinot Noir, the whites being Chardonnay, but with huge variations in flavour due to the place (terroir) and winemaking techniques.
This first post covers the first batch of wines I tasted, all white, moving from Chablis in the north down through Meursault, Puligny-Montrachet, Rully and ending up in Mercurey.
Chablis 2006, Domaine Garnier (€16.95)
Chablis is an area slightly northwest of Burgundy, but still considered a Burgundy nonetheless. This one has all the wet pebble characteristics of Chablis but seemed a bit heavier than the normally light and dry Chablis I’ve tried before.
Chablis Premier Cru Montmains 2005, Domaine Denis Race (€19.95)
This one’s a Premier Cru, meaning it’s from better land than a non-Premier Cru (this does not necessarily mean its better, but it usually is). It could be from higher or steeper slopes or facing south instead of East, or have a better soil – just some of the factors that effect the quality of wine.
This one was more crisp, had a higher acidity (think zippy zesty citrus) and lasted longer (the wine lingo is “a longer finish”) so in my book was better than the first.
Meursault 2005, Domaine Bitouzet-Prieur (€33.95)
Meursault is about 100 clicks southeast from Chablis, which brings with it a whole new “expression” to the Chardonnay grape i.e. it’s completely different, even though it’s the same grape.
Much heavier than the Chablis. Smooth and tropical rather than dry, crisp and mineral flavours of Chablis.
Verdict: Really Good
Puligny Montrachet 2004, Domaine Jean Claude Belland (€43.95)
Puligny Montrachet is only four kilometres southwest from Meursault and yet again if I was to lapse into wine talk, “shows a stronger expression of the Chardonnay grape”. Very strong mineral flavours with peach and a really long lasting finish
Verdict: Really Good
Rully 2005, Domaine Pascal Briday (€20.95)
About 8 kilometres further south brings me to the last of the whites I tasted, a Rully. This was getting heavy but a very smooth Chardonnay with a lot of vanilla, pineapple and some mint going on. There’s a great milky smooth texture that goes all the way through from start to finish.
Verdict: Really Good. I liked this one so much, I bought a bottle for a special occasion.
Mercurey Blanc 2006, Domaine du Meix-Foulot (€21.50)
Agnès Dewé-de Launay, the winemaker, was present in Mitchell’s which was a bit of treat.
This wine is 50% Premier Cru, i.e. half from grapes from some of the best vineyards. After that 70% is put into stainless steel vats, the rest in new or one year old oak barrels. This was very clean and all about apricots and peaches and not too heavy on the oak.
Verdict: Lovely Jubbly
Chardonnay: not one size fits all
It became quite clear, that as wines I tasted moved south moving from Chablis in the north down through Meursault, Puligny-Montrachet, Rully and finally in Mercurey, that they changed considerably. From the very light, dry, crisp, zesty, minerally-citrusy zingers of Chablis to the the more tropical, heavier, intensely, textured white wines from Mercurey.
So, the one of the important things worth taking from this is that there is no such thing a single characteristic Chardonnay and that if you hear someone say “I don’t like Chardonnay”, introduce them to Chablis, to Mercurey or anywhere in between.