Tasted in Beaune with Coralie & Pierre Meurgey, 20 May 2021.
For some reason, I missed out on tasting the 2018s here – I’m making amends with the 2019s. Mark O’Connell was in North America, but Pierre and Coralie were on hand for this tasting. Coralie spends about one-third of her time, sharing the winemaking, with Mark, and the rest helping to manage the Chateau de Bligny…
Pierre on 2021:
“We will certainly be making a Volnay 1er cru blend instead of the individual cuvées in 2021!”
Pierre on 2019:
“Regarding the covid-influenced market, we don’t have a lot of wine anyway and all is already ordered. Though of course, it’s easier in the US since the Trump tax was removed. In 2019 we had only around 20 hl/ha so close to half a harvest – at the same time we chose to start the replanting part of Clos Chapelle so had an extra impact from that. This the vintage which was the last, for now, where we harvested the whole parcel of our Teurons – after that, we pulled out 60% for replanting. I don’t think it’s a vintage with a very high maturity – at least versus other recent vintages.”
At this stage in elevage, the oak spice is the dominant aromatic note on most of the wines – whites too – which I have to say, I prefer to toast or creamy vanilla! Behind the oak are wines of substance and complexity – some are properly great and worth a special search. The winemaking remains very fine from this address. 2-3 years patience – as a starting point – will help you to avoid any of that extra oakiness.
2019 Beaune 1er Les Teurons
0.27 ha. This the earliest bottled – November with Carelles and Clos – the majority were done in February
A subtle width of oak spice and red fruit complexity in support. That’s got a lovely silky texture before slowly giving way to a small grain of tannin – no dryness, The oak is present but more of an accent than actually framing the whole wine. Concentrated and with a fine extra burst of finishing flavour that holds very well. Wait a year or maybe two for the oak to fade still further but this is a very tasty wine.
2019 Beaune 1er Champs Piments
A little deeper colour. A fuller nose – the same oak spice but the fruit is much more forward here. I prefer the extra structure and slightly darker fruit in this wine. Bursting forward in the finish – like the Teurons – but here a little extra juicy – that’s an excellent wine.
2019 Volnay 1er En Carelle
Just below the chapel, same height and exposure as Champans. 0.35 ha planted about 1960. Some brown clay, lots of small rocks on reasonably deep soil. All destemmed as usual.
Directly the most perfumed wine so far – there remains a little oak spice but it’s much more subtle here. Really a nice shape in the mouth – less overtly structural than the Beaune but with a mouth-filling and open shape. Again a burst of finishing flavour – here a little more bitters and a slowly fading width – lovely…
2019 Volnay 1er Clos de la Chapelle
Bought in two lots by Victor Boillot in 1865 and them 1870. The Lavalle map of 1855 shows this contiguous with the next vineyard – Pitures – but this is 1m higher and the wall is there, so Mark isn’t sure. Here a lighter, browner, as opposed to redder soil vs En Chapelle. Also planted between the mid-1950s and early 60s. The cabotte is now renovated though seemingly with more paperwork needed than for planting a vineyard! This clos extends to 0.55 ha or 13.2 ouvrées. ‘Slightly higher elevation chalkier with more limestone, really those are the elements that I think you can taste on the mid-palate. Here the vines run east-west.’
Both deeper and higher-toned – dark fruit and fine clarity to that fruit. Extra-wide, a fine clarity to the flavour too – a small rub of fine-grained tannin – and once more the mounting of flavour in the finish – almost a hint of menthol in the minerality here. Long. Excellent again…
2019 Volnay 1er Taillepieds
Much, much lighter soil. Much stonier too. ‘Totally different – 50m higher in elevation with multiple types of limestone. 0.47 ha. We already had declining yields in this vineyard, ignoring the hail, so at the end of 2015 I decided to replant 2 sections. I’m working with Jean-Pierre de Smet formerly from l’Arlot using his massale selections. Clos Chapelle started their own massale selection, but it can take 5-10 years to be in a position to propagate.’ It’s a bottom to top parcel. First vintage for the newly planted vines will be in 2019 – the massale selection ‘ it will be fascinating to compare the two plots’ – the parcel is right in-between those of d’Angerville and de Montille. This wine is from the old part – 80-year-old vines – also the highest part
Spiced – partly the oak but also partly the place here. Vibrant, mouth-filling and with a cool energy. Depth to this flavour, the darker fruit faintly framed with tannin. Layered, in fact, waves of finishing flavour – that’s really super – give it 10 years – though it’s no ‘must’…
2019 Pommard 1er Chanlins Vieilles-Vignes
On the border of Volnay and Pommard. Old-vines, 0.25 ha from 1930 that delivered 45 hl/ha despite their age – ‘Let’s see if they will still do that in 2021!’
The spice of the previous wines but a little oak showing also in the depth of these aromas – almost an airy smokiness which comes from the stems (25%.) Vibrant, energetic, mouth-filling wine. Depth to this flavour and just an extra millimtre or two of cushion versus the Taillepieds. Modest bitters in a finely complex finish – hard to choose between this and Taillepieds – they are so different yet so similarly high-achieveing…
Proper GE! – That faintly cushioned, crushed cherry style of fruit. The most direct, the most cool-fruited – some drag to the texture from the tannin but with no grain. The finish is like slowly squeezing out the last drops from a fruit. That’s going to be a great, great wine!
There’s no Rognets anymore – part of the separation with Champy – but the domaine got a little more Beaune Reversées which has already been replanted to white – 0.18 ha worth. ‘Really, really happy with this wine – I think it’s a complete wine – it all comes together and you see exactly why this is a grand cru.’
A finer grain to this aroma but also a slightly more compact aroma. There’s a nod to the GE in the cool-fruited style and a slightly more sophisticated texture too. Slowly mouth-watering. I have a tiny extra appreciation for the GE but it’s damn close – this is also a great wine.
And les Blancs…
“No crushing for the whites and we hyper-oxidise, no sulfur for 48 hours”
2019 Beaune 1er Reversées Blanc
The only white from this vineyard that Mark knows of. The previous owner had all the red he wanted so replanted a section in white. This section does have plenty of limestone so it seems not badly placed. Farmed organically for the last 10 years – “People go crazy over it at €20 a bottle!” The oldest vines here are 35 but there are plenty of new vines too – despite candles each night it doesn’t look like there will be much in 2021.
Fresh but also a roundness of aroma – faintly, sweetly herbed. Mouth-filling, growing more and more incisive, intense and slowly melting over the palate – holding my attention – not hyper-energetic but still engrossing. That’s another excellent Beaune Blanc from here.
A tiny plot of just 3 ouvrees – 0.12 ha. ‘Our mini Corton-Charlemagne’ – it has the same elevation and you can see one from the other…
The first of all these wines where my nose sinks into the aromas and I’m not considering the style of the oak. A cushion yet also a direction to this nose too. Wide, nicely vibrating with pineapple energy, growing in intensity. That’s a simply super PV – really super-finishing – I love that. A great PV!
From the Pernand side in En-Charlemagne – Mark particularly looking for leaner, more angular rather than riper style – ‘Because you can’t do that in Montrachet. We don’t pick late, we use a Champagne-style, short, 3-3.5 hour press of whole clusters. Debourbage overnight with an early morning racking into barrel with plenty of lees. Once per month batonnage after malo, until about 2 months before bottling. This is always our last picked vineyard’ – west, north-west positioned.
The most large-scaled and forward aroma of these whites, with air more focus on white flowers. Here is a wine of concentration but freshness too – fine balance – the minerality underpins the wine without dominating it. Lip-smacking, clean finishing, whilst retaining a concentrated core of flavour – it really doesn’t want to let go in the finish. Embryonic but potentially a wine that’s more than excellent – even for Corton-Charlemagne.