Domaine Jean Marechal Mercurey Vieilles Vignes 2017
Assembled from three separate parcels in appellation Mercurey. Open and juicy cherry fruit, a little touch of leather in its backbone. Balanced fruit and acid, mouthwatering and fresh. Lovely long finish all in fruit.
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 2017 VINTAGE
If 2016 tested the faith and resolve of wine makers in Burgundy, 2017 has to be seen as recompense, and as a miracle of sorts. While the rest of wine-growing Europe suffered crippling late-spring frosts in 2017, Burgundy for the most part (for once!) survived.
A mild winter and an accelerated spring left the Burgundy vineyards in a vulnerable position when, in the second half of April, temperatures across France barely rose above freezing for two weeks.
Three hard-frost nights pretty much did in Right Bank Chablis once again. But as the rest of Burgundy survived the first week, the growers found the will to fight back. And on the night of April 27th, a year and a day after the 2016 frost that took 80% of the 2016 harvest, a severe frost was forecast for the length of the Cote d’Or.
It’s now a part of local legend how, on the following morning, we awoke in a thick cloud of smoke. In the early hours, from north to south, the vignerons had mobilized to set alight dampened bales of hay, sending up a cloud cover to filter the first burning rays of dawn. And it worked.
The air was thick, and driving was tricky. A customer at the butcher shop in Meursault jokingly asked for a smoked chicken. And, of course, the authorities were up in arms over the pollution risks. But the crop was saved, and there has been ever since a spirit of cooperation and solidarity not often seen in farming communities.
After the freeze, May brought in an extended period of warm dry weather. No mildew or oidium to speak of, no thunderstorms or hail. Sunny periods, but no lack of rain. And the vines went in to flower at a very-normal first week of June. Pretty much ideal.
July had a couple of heat spikes, and a hailstorm hit the fancy vineyards in Morey St Denis on the 10th. But nothing worse. August was warm; the lead up to the harvest at the end of the month, hot and dry.
The first grapes were picked in the Cote de Beaune in the last few days of August. And most everyone was out picking in the first week of September.
There was (as there often is in Burgundy) serious disagreement in 2017 about when to pick. Do you pick early to preserve the acid-sugar balance and freshness? Or do you hang in there and wait for a little rain to kick-start a stalled photosynthesis, and thereby achieve the holy grail of phenolic maturity?
It’s hard to say who was right. There are very good wines coming from both camps. But there are iffy wines too. And that’s the key to understanding 2017.
Picked early, the best wines, both red and white, are fresh, fruit-driven and floral with long minerality. The iffy wines seem not have adjusted for the solid levels of tartaric acid which left them tart rather than bright, dry and tannic rather than juicy.
Picking late did not seem to have an effect on the balance between alcohol and acidity. But then, there was no ‘over maturity’ in 2017. The extra phenolic maturity seems to mean more density and riper tannins, with no sign of flabbiness.
The whites shine, particularly in hard-done Chablis (where there is better balance even than the marvelous 2014s). In the rest of Burgundy, the whites have the tension of 2014 but the open flattery of 2015.
The reds are juicy and crisp and open, and the regional appellations will be ready to drink soon. More serious appellations will be considered ‘typical’, in the best sense of the word: classic wines from a vintage that Burgundians will love. They are likely to be lost in the hub-bub that the 2018s will bring. But the yields were good in 2017, so you will be able to find them for a while. And you’ll do well to seek them out.
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