Recently I had the pleasure of attending the Association of Australian Boutique Winemakers Masterclass on White Burgundy conducted by wine critic Huon Hooke at the Prince Wine Store in Sydney. The 12 wines on show, from the Burgundy appellations of Maconnais, Côte de Beaune and Chablis, were made by small independent producers, most of whom favour biodynamic or organic farming methods and only limited use of new oak for barrel ageing.
Overall, the quality of the wines was excellent. The premier cru wines from Puligny-Montrachet and Mersault certainly displayed the hallmark qualities people associate with top-flight White Burgundy.
The bouquet of the Jacques Carillon Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Champ Canet 2013 (rrp $256), for example, was both complex and clearly delineated, an enticing mix of savoury and sweet (think smoked and honey almonds!). The elegant nose was complemented by a vibrant, well balanced palate of medium-bodied citrus flavours with a touch of pear and quince. Great length added to the wine’s appeal.
Jacques Carillon is one of Puligny-Montrachet’s high profile producers. Top critics like the Wine Advocate’s Neal Martin regard 2013 as one of his best vintages to date.
Another clear favourite was the Domaine Michelot Meausault 1er Cu Perrières 2010 (rrp $197). Deep golden in hue, it was perhaps more old fashioned in style than the other wines we tried. As Huon explained, its rich, buttery texture was the result of allowing the wine to undergo a full malolactic (or secondary fermentation) and using of a higher proportion of new French oak for barrel ageing. Only when the fruit quality is high and has “guts”, as Hooke described it, do such treatments add complexity and depth without diminishing freshness and fruit flavour.
Interestingly, the Michelot Meausault 1er Cu Perrières was one of only two wines bottled under screwcap instead of cork. Problems like cork taint and premature oxidation occur far too often in White Burgundy, but so far most Burgundian wineries have been reluctant to move to screwcap… [Read More]