The gate into the Clos des Perrières
Officially, this is Meursault 1er Cru Les Perrières, though you might also see labels where the words ‘premier cru’ are missing, for instance Maison Leroy prefer the simplicity of Meursault-Perrières – Appellation Contrôlée – here it is expected that you already know that the appellation of Meursault-Perrières is a premier cru!
Perrières is not an uncommon name in Burgundy – there are a number – and all take their names from the ancient extraction of stone to build the local villages – quarries. Among other places and houses, the quarried stone from here was used for the bell-tower of the church in the centre of Meursault, not just other notable houses in the village.
Take a look at a map of Meursault-Perrières – and Laurent Gotti’s is freshly minted and perfect, delineating all the plots of the 27 owners – and you will see a vineyard that’s very far removed from a uniform block of vines. Here there are different tiers – terraces even – there are patches of scrub and trees, and there are even sections right in the middle of the vineyard (Château de Meursault & de Montille) that are actually only rated as ‘Bourgogne’ or ‘Villages Meursault’ – due to being a quarry hole that was back-filled with soil and rubble – it’ seemingly anyone’s guess when this was done, but the Château de Meursault Bourgogne costs as much as most villages. Then there is the Clos des Perrières – a square Clos of vines that follows the road for 100 metres or-so. The topography of Perrières is varied and complex – similar in some ways to that of Puligny-Montrachet 1er Les Folatières.
Whilst not particularly small at a little over 13 hectares, Perrières is dwarfed by its 31 hectare neighbour below it and the road, Meursault-Charmes. Genevrières, its neighbour to the north, is only a little larger at 16 hectares, but like Meursault-Charmes, Genevrières is split into high and low sections, in both cases (Charmes and Genevrières) the higher sections are better regarded – in Perrières this is not the case. Meursault-Perrières is the only one of these three 1ers that sits entirely above the road to Puligny. Perrières also goes much higher on the hillside and has its own complications and lieu-dits. The bottom ‘part’ of Perrières is called Perrières-Dessous, though cutting through it – right in the middle – is the walled section of the Clos des Perrières which is also an official climat. The higher sections are named Aux Perrières which is the smaller, northern section, and to the south, the larger Les Perrières-Dessus – the larger of these two higher sections.
The higher sections are mix of the very stony and sometimes a little more sandy soil. Towards the top, under the trees there is often some degeneration of the vines – virus issues – mainly court-noué:
Perrières is a relatively early ripening terroir, similar to Charmes below. Good Perrières is often described as having a more linear, direct and mineral intensity – like the wines of Puligny, so it’s no surprise that everything south of Meursault-Perrières is indeed in Puligny-Montrachet; higher-up the vines of Perrières border Puligny Les Chalumaux and also Blagny, but mainly Perrières borders Puligny 1er Champs Canet to the south.
Meursault Perrières is a wine apart in Meursault, even the producers will note that it is (almost) invariably the best of their Meursault cuvées. Regardless of the oft-said ‘Perrières is the Grand Cru of Meursault’ I don’t find the weight of the grand crus of Puligny and Chassagne to the south, but weight alone is not really interesting, Perrières has energy and intensity – as good as any grand cru – and that’s very interesting!
For many years, the Bardet family of Clos des Perrières have built a dossier with the aim of proposing their ‘Clos des Perrières’ for grand cru status. Is it the best of these? Well, all the other producers in the Perrières-Dessous would covet those vines, perfectly encompassed by a wall and sitting next to the road, but it remains an impossible question to answer. Clos des Perrières is excellent, and indeed a little different as it usually shows a more floral aromatic (heat of the Clos?) but no-one except the Bardets would say that it is the best. Speak with other producers and they will tell you that an AOC change only for the Clos des Perrières would always be opposed by other owners in the lower Perrières-Dessous section – which they agree to be the best part of this cru – but that if that whole lower section was considered, there might be some consensus: amongst others, Coche-Dury and Bouchard Père might have another view, as most of their vines lie in the higher Perrières-Dessus section!
Every few dozen metres the soil is a little different; sometimes more stone, sometimes a little sand, yet there seems a Perrières-ness to the wines – these differences seem no more marked in the different tiers versus 50 metres apart in the same sections. Geologically, the base stone is quite homogenous on a Chassagne stone lower down – a hard oolite limestone. There’s more argilles and clay higher up with some Comblanchien limestone. Often there’s no more than 20-30 centimetres of soil before the mother-rock.
A dozen Perrières…
Producers say that about 7 years is needed to distinguish a great Perrières – the best for me from this selection, was actually the 2011 from Lafon – I could drink it every day. Much younger but worth very-much worth waiting for are the 2012 wines of Bouchard Père and, of-course Roulot.
2012 Maison Chanson, Meursault 1er Les Perrières
The colour seemed quite dark on pouring – but the next time I look it seems only medium-yellow, okay, perhaps still medium-plus. The first impression is of cushioning creamy oak, and just a bit clumsy but this dissipates quickly to show a ripe lemon-yellow fruit – the nose getting fresher and fresher with more than a hint of salinity as it warms in the glass. Starts as an electric line of fresh flavour, slowly widening and then widening some more in the mid-palate. The finish is dry and mineral – some dry extract here.. The nose adds a floral dimension – aromatically this gets better and better… Despite the colour, the longer I stay with it, the less I want to part with it!
2012 Bouchard Père, Meursault 1er Les Perrières
From 1.2 hectares owned, and from 3 different plots: one in the heart of Perrières – 0.22 hectares of ~35 year-old vines – with a flat, stony, richer soil. Another plot – 0.42 hectares from Ropiteu-Mignon replanted in 1961 – higher on the hill that delivers more acidity and citrus fruits, a finally a plot near Puligny Chalumaux with more exotic fruits – the three are blended and have about 15% new oak in their elevage.
Medium-pale yellow. Starts with a little creamy oak, but then there’s some sulfur – actually quite a bit of sulfur. It’s not really a sniffer’s wine to start with. Wide, a little structured, and some faint CO2 and a slowly growing salinity. The nose gets ever-better without really opening fully from its protection. Great wine here if still somewhat shackled…
2012 Maison Louis Latour, Meursault 1er Les Perrières
Medium, medium-plus yellow. The nose has an obvious floral aspect. Yellow fruit on the palate with a sweet ripeness – very tasty if less obviously strict versus the last 2. The flavour sweetly moves along before a very impressive reprise of something rather more reductive in the finish. The nose is getting rounder, filling out. Slowly there’s a little more structure to the flavour. Sweetly long. More crowd-pleasing, but less detail to begin with.
2012 Château de Meursault, Meursault 1er Les Perrières
From Dessus. 20% new oak with 14-18 months elevage.
A super aromatic that’s round and inviting, has a faint green herb and an undertow of discreet oak. Fresh acidity, indeed mouth-watering, sweet acidity, very long, very pretty, soft, faintly oaked – the oak is just a bit more obvious in the finish. No hard edges and a fine line of flavour. A good wine from an unheralded producer. Some richness here that’s reminiscent of a Charmes, very faintly spiced in the finish.
2012 Jean-Marc Roulot, Meursault 1er Les Perrières
Jean-Marc’s parents bought this parcel in 1976, in Les Perrières-Dessous. 0.2605 hectares from a parcel shared with Domaine Matrot. There’s an elevage of 18 months, 11 months in barrel followed by 6 months in stainless-steel tank with the lees, ‘Which brings a small reduction – I like very much a little reduction! Batonnage? – we don’t do any.’
A deeper aromatic with an agrumes reduction, yet discreetly so. Silkier than the last, with a fine concentration too – more compact flavours, here there is no extra padding from the wood, so slightly less rich, but precise and direct in personality – beautiful clarity and with a very modest salinity and oak note in the finish. A very young wine.
2011 Jacques Prieur, Meursault 1er Les Perrières
More yellow, riper notes – with a faint patisserie and ripe lemon – a certain aromatic richness. A faint prickle on the tongue, but this has mouth-filling, silky yellow fruit. More opulence but lots of concentration. The finish has much of the previous two wines about it with a faint spiciness. Really a mineral aspect to this in the mid-palate. Rich but mineral, with fine balance and a suggestion of dry extract…
2011 Michel Bouzereau, Meursault 1er Les Perrières
2 parcels, one from above and one from below.
Again a very ripe lemon – the vintage – yet still narrower than the Prieur – though slowly evolving with some floral notes and faint herb. Wide, a little soft and rich but very finely balanced – a little more salinity in the mid-palate. A more loose-knit wine than the previous ones, yet again with a similar spiciness buttressed with a discreet oak note.
2011 Comtes Lafon, Meursault 1er Les Perrières
A blend of 3 parcels.
A freshness to the nose, less richness vs the previous 11s. Complex but discreet – nothing is dominating here. Very much the most direct, lithe and mineral, cliché Perrières and all the better for it. A slowly growing line of pure flavour. Clearly an outstanding 11 – the nose with time is growing a faintly creamy oak note, that slowly is reflected in a modest but super length – silky on the teeth too. Drinking fabulously today, and despite the vintage my favourite so far!
2011 Bitouzet-Prieur, Meursault 1er Les Perrières
These vines were replanted in 1983. The elevage sees 11-12 months in barrel, with malolactic fermentation also in barrel and ‘virtually’ no battonnage. 4-6 months in tank afterwards – depending on the vintage.
The nose is herby and shows a slight pyrazine, actually with more time not slight! Width of flavour, some richness and a fine acidity, but it doesn’t hang together very well after the Lafon. There’s a faint reduction and quite a good finish, again faintly spicy. Not a bad 2011 but a very long way behind the Lafon.
2007 Bitouzet-Prieur, Meursault 1er Les Perrières
Magnum. From a similarly early harvest to 2011, just 3 or 4 days later.
Here is a mineral, faintly reduced nose with some herby complexity. Sweet, mouth-watering flavour, with a really super line. It’s surprisingly sweet and slowly mouth-watering in the finish. Young colour. The finish is characteristic of the others. A very good wine indeed, but I anyway love this vintage…
2002 Albert Grivault, Meursault 1er Les Perrières
Still a young colour. A little honey and salt on the nose, a very faint smokiness too. Lithe direct and with a growing width – more mature notes, more herb, but sweetness and impressive weight of flavour. Really a more mineral mid-palate with the beginnings of a more white-chocolate and wet wool older wine reduction. The extra years delivering a very different animal here… Very much a melted butter character in the finish. Which sets it apart from the other wines…
2008 Albert Grivault, Meursault 1er Clos des Perrieres
Freshness, an undertow of creamy oak, a wide, rather modest nose but one that’s very, very inviting. Quite a young colour. Delicate and just a little floral. Beautiful bubbling acidity, faintly sweet and very mouth-watering. Wide, almost lush. It starts with a weight of young flavour then fades before holding a more mineral. Notes of sweetness and minerality in the finish. This tastes great, and has the merest suggestion of some maturity of flavour in the finish…