Domaine Jean Pierre Charton
2006 Mercurey 'Vieilles Vignes'
Pinot Noir •Appelation Mercurey Controlee
What We Say
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Mission Codename: The Golden Valley
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Visit the commune of Mercurey and retrieve a delicious red Burgundy
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Domaine Jean Pierre Charton
Wine Subject: 2006 Mercurey ‘Vieilles Vignes’
Winemaker: Vincent Charton
Backgrounder: The village commune of Mercurey, located in the heart of the Cote Chalonnaise is one of the best loved appellations in the region. Originally designated in 1923, the region is protected from the wines in what is referred to locally as the Golden Valley.
The region is well known for its unique soil composition of white limey marl and calcic limestone, Jurassic gravel and rock and red clay. Also the vines grown in Mercurey are grown at an elevation of about 1000 feet above mean sea level. The village boasts 32 Premier Crus and its red wines are known for crisp fruit driven wines with excellent minerality.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Deep and intensely ruby red with a dense but clear core. Along the edges, the color remains ruby and then fades just slightly to pinkish ruby. When swirled, this slightly more viscous wine leaves evenly spaced thin legs that descend tot he wine below are varying speeds.
Smell – Medium in intensity with aromas of bright juicy red fruit including red and black cherry layered over notes of earthy herbal undergrowth, savory spice and hints of tobacco.
Feel – This full-bodied wine is dry and smooth in the initial attack. At mid palate, the finely textured tannins take hold and linger into the finish, making this wine almost chewy. Excellent minerality and bright acidity also add to the structure of this lovely wine.
Taste – Layers of tart and ripe red and black cherry as well as other red fruits (raspberry) meld with herbal and savory spice notes giving this wine a subtle meaty character. A good dose of earthiness emerges with subtle mushroom hints along with balanced oaky and woody flavors.
Finish – Long and lingering with the tart and ripe fruits gently fading and leaving this wines textured tannins and minerality behind for several minutes.
Conclusion – The 2006 Jean Pierre Charton Mercurey ‘Vieilles Vignes’ is a delicious red burgundy that finds itself perfectly at home with a variety of foods. Easy and approachable with great red fruit, a solid structure and a long finish we enjoyed this wine with simple tarragon roast chicken and pommes frites.
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Vincent Charton
WINE EDUCATION: Learned about viticulture and winemaking from his father. Vincent Charton, son of Jean-Pierre graduated from the oenolgy program in Beaune.
WINEMAKING STYLE: Here are some words in our cultural practices (treatments) and our method of winemaking that we implement for our wines.
We seek to maintain maximum balance between different forms of life (earthworms, ladybugs ..) so as to maintain a significant biological activity in soils. We forbid any form of chemical treatments, insecticides, herbicides or chemical fertilizers. This allows to respect the land and the environment. No chemical treatment is used for rot. We only use active substances such as sulfur to control powdery mildew and copper to control mildew: only organic materials are used to ensure a healthy crop and grape quality.
We also carry out soil tests every 5 years on all of our vineyards. If necessary, we provide minerals such as potassium because it plays a very important role in photosynthesis. Our soils are also balanced by the burning of the vine canes as they provide organic matter.
We use only indigenous yeasts (natural), which provides a typical wine and what influences the final product (expression of “Terroir”).
No enzymes are used. We are try to extract maximum color through natural lees stirring and pump-overs
No acidification or deacidification is carried out.
We filter very slightly by kieselguhr under anaerobic conditions (without air).
AGENT WHITE: Is there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
VINCENT CHARTON: Our love for wine is not tied to a specific experience but that passion was passed down from father to son for generations. The Charton family is native to Savigny les Beaune in Cote d’or
WHITE: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your style of winemaking?
VINCENT: The evolution of consumer taste has really influenced our style of wine. Years ago consumers were looking mainly wines to age . Today everything has changed, they are looking for wine to drink within 5 years, wines that are both fruity and structured. Our goal is to combine the two: producing structured wines and that have the agibility to age.
It is undeniable that the concept of “terroir” must be followed to avoid the production of wines called “technological”.
WHITE: Who do you want to make wine? for yourself, for the consumer …
VINCENT: We’ll link the two. Producing wines that match the expectations of consumers while respecting our soil, the typicality of pinot noir and vintage
WHITE: In your opinion, what makes it so special Mercurey?
VINCENT: The Mercurey Vieilles Vignes has a beautiful aromatic complexity (red fruit aromas – black fruits). It is tannic and velvety with an elegant oak. The tannins are silky. The lingering aftertaste is quite long.
The Mercurey Vieilles Vignes is so special because of its terroir. It is a blend of three parcels over the age of 50 years. The Mercurey is grown on a red clay and limestone soils rich in minerals and organic matter thereby producing wines of great finesse.
WHITE: Currently, this type of work do you do in the vineyards or cellars?
VINCENT:We do not claim the label BIO but we work in this context. We work in a reactive manner to best take care of our vineyards while respecting the environment and our land. No herbicides are used. All vines are plowed regularly (6 times per year). We are also work to limit the yields (severe winter pruning, debudding ….).
In the cellar, the vinification is done as naturally as possible. Maceration for 3 weeks with natural yeasts, no addition of enzymes and chaptalisation is made. Maturing in barrels lasts 8 to 10 months. The wines are bottled on the property.
WHITE: How would you recommend people approaching your wine and wine in general?
VINCENT: Simply by making them taste the wine and explaining our passion, our purpose, our method of culture and natural winemaking. And by insisting on the idea that we should not forget this notion of “terroir” which I think is very important for producing quality wines that match consumers’ expectations.
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the the Mercurey commune south of Beaune and northwest of Chalon-sur-Saone can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Awards & Accoaldes:
90 Points – Wine Spectator – This red is marked by its beautiful silky texture, a foil for the flavors of sweet cherry, spice, leather and a hint of truffle. Rich, this is softening nicely and begs for roast chicken, with a good firm finish. Drink now through 2014. 1,100 cases made. –BS
About This Wine:
Medium bodied with dark cherry, strawberry and blueberry flavors, structured tannins and balanced acidity with very good length on the palate.
Named as one of Mercureys’ producers of note by Clive Coates MW in his seminal book “An Encyclopaedia of the Wines and Domaines of France,” Domaine Charton Jean-Pierre’s talent and commitment to producing quality wines is obvious when you taste its “Vieilles Vignes” 2006. Out of 91 Mecurey wines tasted blind last year, La Revue du Vin de France (the most important French wine magazine) named the Domaine’s “Vieilles Vignes” 2006 as one of the five best wines in its price range.
The wine is produced from 6 acres of 30-year old vines, planted on a south-facing hillside at an elevation of 700 feet. To improve the quality and character of the fruit, the vines are pruned to allow only 5 to 6 buds per cane. In July, any excess grapes are removed (in a process known as green harvest or vendage verte) in order to further allow the flavor to concentrate in the remaining fruit. The soil is also tilled 8 to 10 times per year, which encourages the vines’ root systems to develop and deepen, adding more complexity and flavor to the grapes.
The grapes are picked by hand and are de-stemmed and crushed by the method ancestrale, or by foot. This reduces the risk of crushing the seeds (or baies), which would otherwise result in too harsh tannins. Vinification takes place in cement tanks and starts with a temperature-controlled maceration of skins -10 to 15 days depending on the vintage – before aging continues in oak barrels for 9 months (no more than 25 percent new; the rest between 2 and 4 years old). Following a light filtration, the wine is bottled is late August. Production is limited to around 10,000 bottles a year.
Enjoy now or cellar for 3-5 years as its gains complexity with mineral and earthy aromas and flavors.
Pinot Noir is universally regarded as one of the most versatile grape varietals for pairing with food. Vieilles Vignes 2006 begs to be paired with beef, game, pork, veal, stews (beef bourguignon is a natural choice) and any dishes with earthy ingredients like mushrooms. With good acidity and more moderate tannins than other red wines, it also pairs unexpectedly well with aromatic and spicy foods like Mexican dishes with a sweet chipotle sauce or chicken tikka.
About The Winery:
For many, the Burgundy wine region is synonymous with the Côte d’Or – that narrow band of vineyards that are separated into the Côte de Nuits and Côte de Beaune and home to some of the most fabled and expensive Pinot Noirs in the world. But in Burgundy, with its fragmented vineyards and hundreds of appellations, price is no guarantee of quality. Avoiding high-priced disappointments very much turns on choosing the right producer. And if, like me, your wine budget is not unlimited, it also requires you to look outside of the box (or in this case, the Côte d’Or).
Just south of the Côte d’Or is the Côte Chalonnaise, an often overlooked region that produces some of the most high quality, but still affordable Burgundies. The region is comprised of five village appellations, with Mercurey having the best reputation for quality and price. It was here that I found Domaine Jean-Pierre Charton; an excellent Pinot Noir that doesn’t break the bank.
The Charton family has owned the 21-acre domaine since 1940. In his seminal book “An Encyclopedia of the Wines and Domaines of France,” Clive Coates MW named Domaine Charton Jean-Pierre as one of the Mercurey producers of note. The Domaine’s Premier Cru vineyard, “Le Clos du Roi” was originally classified in an 1899 study and remains one of the best 32 Premier Crus in Mercurey.
At an elevation of 700 feet, the Domaine’s 30 year-old vines grow on a south-facing hillside. To improve the quality and character of the fruit, they are pruned to allow only 5 to 6 buds per cane. In July, any excess grapes are removed (through a process known as green harvest or vendage verte) in order to further allow the flavor to concentrate in the remaining fruit. The soil is also tilled 8 to 10 times per year, which encourages the vines’ root systems to develop and deepen, adding more complexity and flavor to the grapes.
The grapes are picked by hand and they are de-stemmed and crushed by the method ancestrale, or by foot. While these methods are more labor intensive and costly, they also reduce the risk of crushing the seeds (or baies), which would otherwise result in harsh tannins. Vinification takes place in cement tanks and starts with a long maceration of skins for 10 to 15 days depending on the vintage – before aging continues in oak barrels (no more than 25 percent new; the rest between 2 and 4 years old).
Domaine Charton Jean-Pierre’s wines possess great length, structure and minerality with intense strawberry, cherry and earthy flavors married with hints of blueberry and blackberry. They pair beautifully with beef, pork, veal and dishes with mushrooms. Less conventional pairings include tuna, salmon and Mexican food (yes, it really works, particularly with a sweet and smoky mole sauce).
Wine Type: Red Wine
Varietal: Pinot Noir