by Juel Mahoney
Something is happening in Meursault.
Just say the last time you had tasted a Meursault was 5 or 10 years ago…then you might not recognise the 2011s. The change in style over recent years is reminiscent of one of those ‘before and after’ shots on diet ads: Meursault has lost 15kg and now feels terrific!
Are the winemakers on a diet? That’s one way of putting it – there has been a gradual lowering of yields and an increase in quality as the average Meursault has become a lot fresher and lighter on its feet – and not just at the top domaines.
The idea of Meursault as a big, broad style of wine is increasingly out of date. Those creamy, nutty, slightly oxidative wines of yesteryear are getting harder to find.
The producers in the village are more quality, and terroir, focused than ever before. If you are what you eat, then a wine is all about the quality of the grapes going into the bottle.
For example, Domaine Latour-Giraud has had a new lease of life in 2011 – and it is all for the better. Vintage variation notwithstanding, there is a lot more emphasis on the fruit freshness in the wines this year. The village-level Cuvee Charles Maxime (named after Grandperes Latour and Giraud respectively) is always one of the best value white Burgundies we buy and we can’t remember a better version than this.
Latour-Girauds 2011s have good acidity that cocoons and protects the dense and concentrated fruit. They have the clean, almond-like smoothness which gives all good Meursault that lovely luxurious feel akin to slipping into Egyptian cotton sheets, but the aftertaste is all about the fruit.
Over at Pierre Morey, daughter Ann told us that “After the 2012 vintage, everything seems easy”. The Pinot Noir and Chardonnay will be bottled during next spring in 2013, but on the day, they tasted open and the fruit expressive.
Pierre Morey’s Meursault often need 8 to 10 years in bottle, especially those from the rocky soil of Tessons, yet in 2011 the fruit is so concentrated it was surprisingly enjoyable to taste now; a good sign for this small vintage. And it should only get better with time.
So Meursault has lost the weight, is looking good and tastes great. There has been a real turnaround in philosophy and commitment to the terroir. The wines are certainly not thin and mean, but neither are they as opulent and heavy as many people imagine. The increased emphasis on fruit tastes like an unveiling, a ‘wow’ moment. The village may lack any official Grand Cru vineyards but, on the evidence of what we tasted, it is not lacking in Grand Cru quality wines.
We finished the day with a great meal accompanied by Sebastien Roux of Domaine Roux, and too much insanely good Epoisses. The conversation turned to the Burgundy village that has undergone an even bigger transformation than that of Meursault… Pommard.
Pommard was our surprise big hit of 2011. More in the next post.