Jean Jacques Girard Meursault Charmes 1er Cru 2022
Meursault 'Charmes' shows first and foremost, the elegance and complexity of the Meursault terroir. A brilliant golden hue, hints at depth and richness. The nose is a symphony of aromas, where notes of baked apples and ripe pears mingle with toasted almond and hazelnut. On the palate, Meursault 'Charmes' shows remarkable balance between opulence and precision. The full-bodied nature of the wine is complemented by a vibrant acidity that imparts freshness, preventing the richness from becoming overwhelming. The mouthfeel is creamy and luxurious, and a subtle mineral undertone that says Burgundy. A judicious use of oak gives the wine texture, structure and complexity. The finish is long, a lingering impression of both the fruit and the well-integrated oak.
Jean-Jacque Girard's website says that his family was growing grapes in Savigny-les Beaune back in 1529. That, as the French say, is 'formidable', and would make the domain one of the oldest in Burgundy. But really what matters to us today is what happened to the domain in the past generation. In the late 90s, the original and venerable Domaine Girard-Vollot was split between Georges Girard's two sons Jean-Jacques and Phillipe. The original domain was about 38 acres. And since the split, Jean-Jacques has built his holdings back to over 40 acres, making it one of the most impressive domains in Savigny.
BURGUNDY 2022 VINTAGE
After three successive high-quality but low-quantity vintages, winemakers in Burgundy are refilling their cellars with an excellent 2022 harvest.This is not to say that it was an easy ride. Once again, frost, heat and drought put stress on the growing season, but timing is everything, and the extreme weather did much less damage than in previous years.
Winters have been wet and mild for years now. The winter of 2021-22 was not, with less than average rainfall and seasonal temperatures. Under these ‘normal’ conditions, we would expect budburst in the first half of April. But summer-like conditions at the end of March forced the vines, especially Chardonnay, to bud early, and we went into frost season with tender green buds exposed. There were two nights in the coming week below zero, but damage was limited.
Spring conditions set in in mid-April, but Summer followed soon thereafter, dry with spiky heat waves. The vines went wild. Winemakers fought to keep the growth under control. And the fight continued until flowering, which happened a couple of weeks early in mid-May.
The warm, dry conditions led to nearly-perfect flowering. We saw for the first time the potential of a great crop, with lots of beautiful, full, well-formed grape bunches; and an early harvest, with fruit setting well ahead of schedule.
But the drought held, and the fear was that this beautiful fruit would shrivel on the vine. Finally, at the end of June, the rain came. Summer storms bring with them the risk of hail, so all eyes were on the sky as the storms were sometimes violent causing significant but limited hail damage. The rains were intermittent, but regular for the next weeks. The cumulative rainfall would not be enough to see the crop through to harvest, however.
The heat waves continued through the rains, and so the risk of fungal disease, usually associated with wet conditions, dried up. But temperatures spiked and dry conditions set in again. The grapes ripened in a full-blown heat wave. Winemakers had to keep a close eye on sugar levels, as the risk was that ripeness could gallop away at the last minute.
And then, just about the time when it looked like an over-ripe mid-August harvest was imminent, it rained again. And the producers were able to let that water absorb into the fruit, increasing the volume of juice that was ultimately harvested in the first week of September.
2022, both white and red, are showing real depth and ripeness. And while there was once again very little malic acid, the tartaric acid holds the balance and structure together. Early tastings in the barrel show enormous charm and vitality. Very promising.
COTE DE BEAUNE
The hard comblanchian limestone that disappears deep underground around Nuits-Saint-Georges reappears here in the southern part of the Cote de Beaune where red wines give way to whites. Nowhere in the Côte de Beaune does the Chardonnay grape do better than it does in the 'golden triangle' of Meursault, Chassagne-Montrachet and Puligny-Montrachet. A small amount of red wine is produced here, though white definitely dominates.
Produced only in the commune of Meursault, appellation Meursault includes 19 premiers crus.
There are appreciable differences in and among the wines of the different Meursault climats. And even more important differences in the perceived style of Meursault among the producers. This translates into two distinct types of Meursault, and then, because the climats themselves are so distinctive, we see almost a spectrum of variety in wines that are all appellation Meursault.
The first of the two distinct styles, what many would call 'traditional', is greeny-gold in color, almost yellow, and going to bronze as it ages. Limpid and fat, its bouquet in youth is grapey toasted oak. This gives way to less fruity but honeyed notes and big buttery volume. Classic Meursault is toast, butter and honey.
The other style, what might be called 'modern' plays more on minerality and acidity. The robe is greeny-gold, but with silvery hints and, while brilliant is notably leaner. The young wine is nutty, floral, gun-flint smoky and above all lemony. Honey notes develop with age, but are carried by the fruit and minerality. Because less new oak is used in the winemaking process, structure is less obvious, but no less an important part of the finished wine. Meursault is perhaps the greatest white Burgundy for aging, and this can be said of either style.
The best soils are found at heights of 260-270 meters with exposures along an arc between east and south. They consist of jurassic marls and marly limestone. There are some patches of magnesian limestone. Ancient callovien limestone and argovien marls appear in the premier cru climats.
Nearly all whites - Chardonnay
Red wines - Pinot Noir
Production surface area
1 hectare (ha) = 2.4 acres
Whites : 383.03 ha (including 103.43 ha premier cru)
Reds : 11.02 ha (including 1.77 ha premier cru)
Power and balance between alcohol and acidity make Meursault potentially noble. A great one has a natural affinity with noble fish or meat where it can match without overpowering. It goes well with roast veal and poultry, and creamy sauces work well here. Still better are grilled lobster, shrimp and famously, crawfish in sauce. Foie gras is often served with the traditional style Meursault, as are rich cheeses like Roquefort. The modern style Meursault is more apt to less rich and extravagant flavors.
On the label, the appellations 'Meursault' and 'Meursault 1er Cru' may be followed by the name of a specific vineyard, known as a climat.
The following climats are classified as premier cru:
Clos des Perrières
La Pièce sous le Bois
Les Gouttes d'Or
Les Santenots Blancs
Les Santenots du Milieu
Sous le Dos d'Ane
The following climats are village wines from a single vineyard, known as a lieu-dit:
Au Moulin Judas
Au Moulin Landin
Au Murger de Monthélie
Clos de la Barre
Clos des Mouches
En la Barre
La Barre Dessus
Le Bois de Blagny
Le Buisson Certaut
Le Meix sous le Château
Le Meix Tavaux
Le Pré de Manche
Les Chaumes de Narvaux
Les Clous Dessous
Les Clous Dessus
Les Gorges de Narvaux
Les Grands Charrons
Les Meix Chavaux
Les Narvaux Dessoux
Les Narvaux Dessus
Les Petits Charrons
Les Peutes Vignes
Les Santenots Dessous
Les Terres Blanches
Les Vignes Blanches
Les Vireuils Dessous
Les Vireuils Dessus