Before visiting this domaine, I’d met Jean-Michel Chartron a number of times, usually as one of ‘Les Trois Barbouzes’ – an informal grouping of the domaines Chartron, Olivier and Seguin-Manuel – all at the time wearing beards (barbouzes!) of-course.
Whilst it’s quite some time since you met two of those domaines, I was always a little reluctant to add a Chartron profile to these pages – why? Well, despite Jean-Michel being a great guy, my experience of the domaine’s wines wasn’t on the highest level; let’s be clear, there was nothing wrong with the wines, but given their fabulous locations, I always thought to myself that wines such as Chevalier-Montrachet “Clos des Chevaliers”, Puligny-Montrachet “Clos du Cailleret” or “Clos de la Pucelle” should be a bit more, well, exciting(!) Burgundy-Report has always been a place to hear about great winemakers, not a place where they are dissected for critical ego; in these pages I expect to write something positive, but my experience of Chartron wines had been luke-warm, so it was easier to pass them by.
Last year, I mentioned this to long-standing contact in Burgundy, who looked me in the eye and said ‘Well, now it is time to visit – it will be worth your time.‘ It is said that Michel Bettane took Jean-Michel Chartron to one side and told him it was time to take advice to improve his wines. Rather than be offended, Jean-Michel did exactly that. Ask Jean-Michel what he has changed in recent years, and he will modestly shrug and say “I just try to make wine…”
The estate was established in 1859 by the a cooper named Jean-Edouard Dupard, who, later in 1873, as mayor of Puligny, began the process to hyphenate the name Montrachet to Puligny.
Jean-Michel Chartron is the fifth generation in charge of the family domaine; now 13 hectares but at one time it also included the large Chartron et Trebuchet negociant business – inheritance necessitated sales of that business and some parcels of vines, such as Puligny Caillerets and Clos du Cailleret.
Today, unsurprisingly, as they are based in Puligny-Montrachet, 90% of the domaine’s wines are white, as follows:
- Chevalier-Montrachet Clos des Chevaliers
- Corton Charlemagne
- Saint Aubin 1er Cru Perrières
- Saint Aubin 1er Cru Les Murgers des Dents de Chien
- Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Cailleret
- Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Folatières
- Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Clos de la Pucelle
- Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Clos du Cailleret
- Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Clos du Cailleret (Red)
- Rully ‘Montmorin’
- Chassagne-Montrachet ‘Benoîtes’
- Puligny-Montrachet ‘Vieilles Vignes’
- Savigny-Lès-Beaune Les Pimentiers
- Bourgogne Chardonnay ‘Clos de la Combe’
- Bourgogne Pinot Noir ‘Clos de la Combe’
- Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Beaune ‘En Bois Guillemain’
- Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Beaune ‘Sous la Roche’ (red)
- Crémant Blanc de blanc ‘Le Crémant de Jean’
You may indeed find other wines in Jean-Michel’s cellar – Montrachet for instance – mainly through swaps of grapes, which of-course means that he also has a negociant’s licence.
In the vines, Jean-Michel’s approach is quite succinct – ‘basically I am to all intents and purposes Bio‘ he says, ‘but not to the extent that I’m prepared to lose everything; if it’s too dangerous then I will use whatever is needed.‘
The wines are mainly fermented and aged in oak barrels in the domaine’s air-conditioned cuverie, though regional appellations are partly made in stainless steel too. The percentage of new oak barrels varies between 10 to 40%, the preferred origin of that oak is mainly Allier and a smaller proportion of Vosges – the chosen tonneliers are François Frères, Damy, Seguin-Moreau and Chassin.
The following were sampled in Puligny-Montrachet on the 29th May 2012, together with David Lloyd, winemaker at eldridge-estate.com.au, and his wife, Wendy the Queen of Chardonnay.
We began with a quick look through the window that is the 2012s – a very strong set of wines I thought (I wish I’d tasted before the offer for his 12s expired in Switzerland!) but too young for notes – before moving onto bottled 2011s. I have to say, I thought them exemplary – well-done Jean-Michel!
From a 3.5 hectare plot on the Mercurey side of the appellation.
The nose is deep and round, a little soft. Given the soft nose, which doesn’t really beg me to take another sip, the palate delivers much more energy than anticipated – here you cannot resist putting glass to lips for a second time – very tasty!
The nose offers high tones and squeeky-kleen soap. Lovely energy over the tongue, and nice intensity too. This is beautiful villages wine – highly covetable!
Riper yet on the nose. The flavours are fuller and richer – contemplative wine – yet with fine acidity. This is fine boned and beautiful!
The aromas offer-up another level of ripeness and fullness – they are wider too. I find this has excellent balance, good power but very fine acidity as its foil.
A stony, mineral, fresh nose. Wide, beautiful intensity and silkier texture than the last wines. Very classy…
From three parcels; near the cemetery, below the Clos Mouchères and close to Château de Puligny.
The nose is tighter, yet there seems more innate density – a faintly alluring note of agrumes is the accompaniment. Not as silky ast the St.Aubin, but it is mouth-filling and again shows excellent acidity – some minerality in the finish too.
A healthy 7 barrels in the cellar…
The nose is a little tight here too. Partly to balance, there’s a burst of flavour-intensity in the mouth, and it’s achingly long too. This is a beautifully boned and detailed wine – really super.
This part of Cailleret is walled to 3 sides. In the time of Jean-Michel’s grandfather the family owned 3 hectares of which 1/3 was planted to pinot. Today they have just 1 hectare, and enough pinot remains for 1 barrel of red.
Rich but insinuating flavour intensity that is beautifully framed by the acidity. Just a beautiful wine.
The nose is intense and ripe. Fuller in shape than the Clos du Cailleret, but still with fine balance. The concentration of flavour seems to grow in intensity and energy, yet cleverly, this wine remains contemplative too – yum!
Domaine Jean Chartron
Tel : +33 (0)3 80 21 99 19
Fax : +33 (0)3 80 21 99 23