Domaine Jean Marechal Mercurey 1er Cru Clos l'Eveque 2019
Delicate pinot color, rich fresh strawberry fruit with hints of undergrowth. Fine tannins show a silky texture, and the balanced acidity brings the red fruit notes high on the palate. Elegant finish.
DOMAINE JEAN MARECHAL
Despite the fact that the Domaine Jean Marechal has been making wine in Mercurey from father to son since 1570, they are not so widely known as some of the other producers in the appellation. Which suits us here at Elden selections just fine. Whatever reason for the domain remaining undiscovered in this generation, we are here to report that this is one of the shining stars in Mercurey. Following in the footsteps of the current appellation locomotive, Bruno Lorenzon, the Domaine Jean Marechal is producing top flight wines that are fine and elegant.
The domain works 8 ha (a little over 19 acres) of vines in appellation Bourgogne, Mercurey and Mercurey 1er Cru. The premiers cru are in some of the best parcels in the appellation: Clos l’Eveque, Champs Martin, Les Nauges, Les Byots and the Clos Barraults (both red and white)
Vineyard work is mainly manual and ever meticulous, in the belief that there is no such thing as good wine without good fruit. Plowing is systematic, using interceps to force roots to dig deep and to maximize rain absorption.
Yields are intentionally limited by severe suckering, insuring concentration and aromatic complexity.
At harvest, the grapes are destemmed, with a long temperature-controlled fermentation. The cap is punched down twice a day to get good extraction. Aging is in oak, with the percentage of new wood judged each vintage.
BURGUNDY 2019 VINTAGE
There’s a popular saying here in Burgundy which points out that, since the start of the 20th century, vintages ending in ‘9’ have been exceptional. So when 2019 came around, we were secretly anticipating something special. Little did we know!
Every vintage comes with its own hyperbole: best of the decade; greatest of the century; another 1990. And it’s true, as the climate continues to warm, there has been some remarkable wine produced in recent years. But in Burgundy in 2019, it got hot.
Both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay like to come to maturity slowly. Too much heat cooks the elegance out of them. So climate change is an existential issue for Burgundy wine as we know it.
But in 2019 something remarkable happened. I hesitate to call it a paradigm shift; it may well be a one-off. But in a year where, in some places, grapes turned to raisins on the vine, Burgundy has given us a vintage worthy of the hyperbole.
You won’t find many lacey, delicate wines this year. The vintage will be unapologetically bold and unbelievably concentrated. The whites are indulgent, often explosive, and pinned to a mind-bogglingly good acidic framework, given the summer heat. The reds are sophisticated and elegant, alive.
Perhaps most tellingly, despite the hot summer, this was not one of those late-August harvests that we’re getting accustomed to. The harvest got underway in the Cote de Beaune on 12 September. And some in the Cote de Nuits did not begin picking until the 23rd. The fruit was ripe earlier, but the fine conditions allowed the growers to wait for the holy grail: phenolic maturity.
You rarely get fruit maturity (the sugar part of the equation) plus phenolic maturity (the tannins in the pips and stems) coming together at the same time. Usually you sacrifice one for the other. You can’t force it to happen. Nature bestows it upon you. But when it does happen, that, almost by definition, is a great vintage.
2019 will be a great vintage. Think 2018 with more energy. The only downside is that, as opposed to the bumper crop we saw in 2018, 2019 was a small crop. Down by as much as 60% in the southern zones where it was hottest.
Let’s look quickly at how the season developed. The winter 2018/19 was mild, with higher than average temperatures in December and February. There was a lot of rain in December which many claim could ultimately have saved the vintage from the summer’s drought.
Spring was warm and the growth cycle started earlier than usual. There were precocious zones with bud burst in early April. But cold weather set in on 5 April with frost in many areas. Frost damage would have an effect on yields, particularly in the Maconnais. The cold weather held on through mid-April with several consequential frost risks.
Warm weather returned in May and remained until early June when temperatures dropped again, slowing growth again and hindering flowering. There was a good bit of flower abortion (millerandage), which, again, took its part of the yield at harvest.
Then mid-summer was hot-hot And dry-dry. The vines, for the most part, were in good shape going into the heat wave, but the stress was excessive. Vines handled the conditions differently from one plot to the next. Consensus is that old vines, with their deep roots, were able to find water in the subsoil. And that younger, well-tended vines, had a similar advantage. Vines with roots that went looking for water near the surface, however, suffered towards the end of the season, as they scorched and shriveled.
There was just a bit of rain in August, and from then on through September was hot but fine. In certain areas Pinot Noir ripened before Chardonnay, so harvest planning was complicated. The first Cremant vineyards were picked at the very end of August, and the harvest continued through to mid-October.
Harvest was a joy for the most part. Good weather. No disease. And the fruit that survived frost and fire was beautiful. Fermentation in both white and red went off easily. Whites finished slowly, gently, giving balance and purity. The length of red fermentation varied a lot, but the tannins are fine and the wine has vigor.
Mercurey, situated in the heart of the Côte Chalonnaise (12 kilometres from Chalon-sur-Saône) is one the foremost appellations of Bourgogne. Protected from moisture-bearing winds, tucked away in its hillsides or stretched along the aptly named Val d’Or (Golden Valley) the vineyards stretch as far as the neighboring village of Saint-Martin-sous-Montaigu. The AOC status was instituted in 1923.Reunited by means of fellowship of the Chanteflûte, created in 1971, the local winemakers are dedicated to enjoying the wines of Mercurey and promoting them to the world.
Mercurey red is a deep, profound ruby. This crisp wine evokes strawberry, raspberry, and cherry. Age brings in notes of underbrush, spicy tobacco notes and cocoa beans. The palate is rich, full-bodied, and chewy. In its youth, the tannins of this wine lend it a mineral firmness. When aged, it is attractively rounded.
Mercurey is a typical Chardonnay gold, it varies in its degree of paleness and is flecked with green. It has floral aromas mayflower and acacia, with, hazelnut, almond, and cinnamon and pepper spice). A touch of flint is a trademark of this wine.
The vines grow at heights of 230 to 320 metres. They spread over marls and marly calcic soils of Oxfordian limestone. On the eastern side, they grow in calcic and marly soils. In the west crystalline Jurassic rocks are overlain by gravels. Part of the vineyards belong to the Bathonien. On these white limey soils and red clays, the vines are truly at home.
White Wines – Chardonnay
Red Wines – Pinot Noir
Production surface area
1 hectare (ha) = 2.4 acres
Reds: 548.68 ha (including 153.80 ha Premier Cru)
Whites: 84.59 ha (including 14.71 ha Premier Cru)
Red: rich, meaty and solidly put together, Mercurey brings out the best from beef rib steaks, or joints of beef or lamb, braised or in sauce. Roast pork is well suited to its rich aromas, as are poultry-based stews. Exotic dishes likewise are good partners for this wine. As for the cheeseboard, this wine harmonizes equally well with either mild, soft cheeses or aged versions
White: its spicy and floral bouquet and juicy appeal let it partner grilled fish or fish in sauce, cooked seafood, asian cuisine, and hard cheeses. White Mercurey can also make a excellent aperitif.
Clos de Paradis
Clos des Barraults
Clos des grands Voyens
Clos des Myglands
Grand Clos Fortoul
Le Clos du Roy
Le Clos l'Evêque
Les Champs Martin
Clos Château de Montaigu
Clos des Hayes
Creu de Montelons
En Pierre Milley
La Croix Rousse
La Plante Chassey
Le Bois Cassien
Le Clos la Marche
Le Clos Laurent
Le Clos Rond
Le Meix de la Guinarde
Le Meix Foulot
Le Meix Frappé
Le Puits Brintet
Le Saut Muchiau
Les Bois de Lalier
Les Vignes Blanches
Les Vignes d'Orge
Les Vignes de la Bouthière
Les Vignes des Chazeaux
Vigne de Maillonge
Vignes du Chapître