In the heart of Côte d'Or, some 10 km south of Beaune, lies Meursault - a village surrounded by 400 km of vineyards, 98% of which is Chardonnay. Meursault is part of the Chardonnay 'trio' - that includes Chassagne-Montrachet, Puligny-Montrachet and Meursault. But the variety is the only thing that unites them! Chardonnay is just a fine tool for expressing the terroir. And terroirs we have here plenty!
limestone is very rare and represents around 10% of all rock types around the world, but not in Burgundy...
Terroirs of Meursault
Complex topography, lots of sedimentation and intense fracturing. While the neighbours mostly lie on gentle slopes, the topography of Meursault reminds a staircase. You'll see a layer that is topped by marl and compact limestone. Going further - more solid limestone that was even used in construction (there are many limestone quarries under the vineyards). If you climb up the hill it's all marl from Jurassic period, very rocky, shallow soil. And then there are vineyards in the valley - juts around the village of Meursault, wines coming from these climats always have some extra freshness, crispness as the air is cooler here.
The Chardonnay from Meursault
If you generalize it - it's all a clay and limestone blend after all. But you can't generalize Burgundy because here every 20 m makes a huge difference in terms of those soil blends. So what is a typical Meursault? A good example is Charmes - a very rich, aromatic, round wine. But if you go up the hills you'll find wines that are more tense and lean. It's colder, there is less soil, and there is more fight for nutrition. With every step down the hill, there is more soil and more rounder wines.
Meursault is exactly what Bourgogne is - its' richness, but also complexity, freshness in the end, that makes it a pleasure to have it in your mouth.
limestone is very rare and represents around 10% of all rock types on the planet, but in Burgundy - it's everywhere!
Soil types in Meursault Here in Burgundy we always talk about limestone, and it seems very like a very common thing after a while. In fact, limestone is very rare and represents around 10% of all rock types. But its' significant presence here is the one of the main reasons why Burgundy has been known for its' wines for a thousand years. Limestone absorbs excess humidity and provides proper drainage.
What are the grape varieties in Meursault? If you ask a winemaker from Meursault what wine he makes he'll never answer 'I make Chardonnay'. He'll say - 'I make Meursault Charmes, Perrières, Genevrières...' So they don't produce the grape variety, they produce the climat. And Chardonnay - the only grape variety permitted in Meursault AOC appellation - is just a great tool to let the climat express itself. Oak usage in Meursault
The marriage of wine & oak is happening here :) Making Meursault in barrels is a tradition here. Chardonnay aged in oak is a model created in Burgundy and spread around the world. But what not all the winemakers globally took over is fermenting in oak. After 24 hours of débourbage (juice settling prior to fermentation), the must 'travels' to the barrels, goes through alcoholic and malolactic fermentation and after - matures for at least 10-12 months. Depending on the winemaker it can be anything from 10% to 100% of new oak.
Is there a Grand Cru in Meursault?
No, Meursault doesn't have Grand Cru classified climats. Funnily, the reasons are not in 'monks' :) Climats of Meursault were identified and carefully drawn in the 11th century. The reason of Grand Cru absence is in taxation. When the appellations were created in the beginning of 20th century, Pommard, Volnay and Meursault decided not to apply for Grand Cru. As a Grand Cru you have to pay more taxes. And as a person who buy and drinks Grand Cru wines you must know that part of the money you pay for the wine goes for taxing the Grand Cru label. So consider saving money together with local winemakers and drink 1er Cru or Village wine from Meursault.
Now the best part - find out in my next article who did I visit in Meursault village and what wines did we taste together! Join me on my upcoming Wine Tours in Europe. There's nothing more delicious than tasing wine right in the cellar together with the people who made it!