Chalonnaise – Latest Releases
BY NEAL MARTIN | JULY 12, 2022
my trip to Burgundy last March, I spent a day focused entirely on the Côte
Chalonnaise. I have included wines from visits to growers in previous reports,
but I wanted to just expand coverage with a standalone article. The venue was
the cooperage at Mercurey, and apart from a brief period in the afternoon, it
was not too busy, affording an opportunity to visit the stands of a dozen
The Grand Jours Mercurey tasting.
As a quick primer, the Côte Chalonnaise lies directly south of
the Côte d’Or. Drive past Santenay and you’re there. Covering a total of 2,221 hectares,
the five main villages are Bouzeron (161ha), Rully (461ha of which 109ha are
Premier Cru, mainly but not exclusively white), Mercurey (792ha of which 178ha
are Premier Cru, probably best-known for its sturdy reds), Givry (393ha of
which 178ha are Premier Cru, mostly red) and Montagny (415ha of which 240ha are
Premier Cru, white wines only). Plus there is Bourgogne-Côte Chalonnaise, a
subdivision of the Bourgogne appellation, and Bourgogne-Côte de Couchois, the
most recent addition in 2000 for Pinot Noir only. The best vineyards tend to
lie on limestone soils, Bathonian or Oxfordian, on slopes rather than flatter
years the Côte Chalonnaise was perceived as
an inferior “add-on” to the Côte d’Or, as if quality came to an abrupt halt
south of Santenay. There is a mixture of factors why the Côte Chalonnaise has
traditionally been given short shrift, partly because of the over-zealous
authorisation of Premier Crus in Montagny in 1943; in order to prevent the
occupying German army from requisitioning vineyards, the cognoscenti did not
really take the status seriously. Partly because there were insufficient
quality-driven growers bottling their own wine.
A map of Côte Chalonnaise.
over the last two decades, I have seen first-hand how the Côte Chalonnaise has
blossomed as increasing numbers of producers exploit their terroirs, withdraw
from co-operatives and bolster the reputations of appellations such as
Bouzeron, Mercurey, Rully, Givry and Montagny as not just perfect
value-for-money alternatives to the Côte d’Or, but great wines in their own
right. (In case you are wondering, I did plan to visit Vincent Dureuil in May,
but with the vines going great guns under the warm conditions, it was decided
to postpone my visit until later this year.)
let the notes do the talking, but here are a few names to look out for.
Belleville – I
chanced upon this Rully-based producer at the Grands Jours tasting and was
immediately alerted to the quality of their wines. Belleville is owned by an
American couple, and the director is Jean-Luc Vitoux. They farm 18-hectares
from Gevrey down to Mercurey. I tasted three Côte Chalonnaise wines and found
them well-crafted with pliant tannins and fine delineation.
There was a bit of a scrum around Maxime Cottenceau at the Grands Jours tasting,
and you could understand why when you tasted his excellent wines. Having
completed his studies and with a couple of vintages alongside Vincent Dureuil, Cottenceau
established his own domaine in the village of Buxy, debuting with the 2018
vintage. Everything is picked by hand, gently pressed and carefully sorted, the
wines spend 18-20 months in barrel with the final six-month in tank. If you
doubt Montagny is able to produce genuine Premier Cru quality wines, you need
to check these out.
– Yes, the name is a bit of a tongue-twister, but the wines are worth the
effort . I tasted a selection of latest releases with Françoise
Feuillat-Juillot (try pronouncing that), the daughter of Mercurey producer
Michel Juillot whose wines are also reviewed here. Françoise bought the domaine
in 2004 and was joined by her daughter Camille last year. Their small range
focuses on Montagny and display commendable terroir expression and freshness. Their
take on Les Coères from 60-year-old vines is well-worth seeking out.
– The Jobard family’s background is connected not only with winemaking, but as
well-reputed pépiniéristes or nurserymen. Claudie Jobard is the
oenologist for Remoissenet, which is where we first met, but the family’s own
wines, that are mostly based around Rully, are well-worth seeking out.
– I’ve been tasting these wines for a number of years now, and they rarely
disappoint. Manu Bautista has run the Mercurey-based domaine since 1997. Bautista
then moved into new premises in the small village of Touche in 2017, though the
family itself has been amongst the vines since way back in 1770. There has
always been careful vineyard husbandry here, the fruit fully de-stemmed and
élevage in larger 500-liter barrels from the Chassin cooperage using 30-40% new
to add more producers such as Domaine A. & P. Villaine, Bruno Lorenzon, the
aforementioned Dureuil-Janthial and others later this year.
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