26 March 2020

The quirks of Burgundy Part 1 – Wine Laws: Mazoyères and Charmes Chambertin

Burgundy law is full of quirks. For example the Premier Cru vineyard of Santenots when producing Pinot Noir must be labelled as Volnay, but if planted with Chardonnay it is labelled as Meursault. Musigny is a Grand Cru for both white and red wine, but there is no Premier or village classification for white Chambolle Musigny, so any Musigny Blanc not deemed ‘good enough’ by the producer must be declassified as Bourgogne Blanc, while Pinot Noir grapes can be declassified to 1er Cru Chambolle Musigny. In fact Chambolle is full of quirks, as 1.52ha of the famous Chambolle Grand Cru Bonnes Mares is located in Morey-St-Denis and not in Chambolle Musigny.

Another such quirks is found among the Grand Crus of Gevrey Chambertin. With 9 Grand Crus, Gevrey Chambertin has more Grand Crus than any other village in Burgundy and they are all located in a block, mid-slope to the south of the appellation. The quirks of Burgundy appellation law allows two of the Grand Crus to be labelled as a different Grand Cru. In Burgundy terms, both Chambertin (12.9ha) and neighbouring Chambertin Clos de Bèze (15.4ha) are good size vineyards, yet wine produced in Clos de Bèze may be labelled simply as Chambertin (yet not Vica Versa).

Similarly, Burgundy law allows Mazoyères Chambertin to be labelled as Charmes Chambertin as well as Mazoyères Chambertin. At 18.59ha, Mazoyères Chambertin is the largest Grand Cru in Gevrey Chambertin, yet most winemakers will label it as Charmes Chambertin (neighbouring Charmes is 12ha) for a reason I cannot phantom. For a region obsessed with the minor variations of terroir, these are unusual quirks and worth exploring. Those that claim there is no difference, possibly have a more political agenda at heart (could they possible have so little soil in either vineyard that it is easier to combine the two?).

The Grand Crus Mazoyères Chambertin and Charmes Chambertin are located to the south of Gevrey Chambertin, just below the Grand Crus of Latricières and Chambertin respectively. Looking at a map, Mazoyères faces slightly more south yet potentially with a slightly cooler micro-climate to the Charmes as a result of the cooler breeze that is channelled through Combe Grisard. The topsoil in Charmes is slightly redder (more iron rich) with more pebbles than Mazoyères, where it is lighter and deeper. In terms of style, it is said that Charmes will usually offer more luscious plump red fruit with an enticing fragrance while  Mazoyères is often more firm, structured, fuller bodied with a more savoury undertone. Few bottle it separately and the only way to compare the two vineyards it by trying the two wines from the same producer. We have a tiny amount available of Mazoyères and Charmes by the same producer (Taupenot Merme).

For those that don’t know Taupenot Merme, it is one of the most under the radar producers. Romain Taupenot makes some excellent wines and they are always fairly priced. I don’t think I can put it better than Andrew Jefford in his latest article for the world of Fine WineFarther north, it’s a question of seeking out the quieter class of Nuits producer among those who can be trusted in almost any vintage: 2013, 2012, 2008, 2007, 2006. Domaine Taupenot-Merme is an example. I don’t recall a single premier cru or grand cru disappointment out of perhaps ten purchases. The wines are fairly priced, not gouging’.

Domaine Taupenot-Merme

2016 Mazoyères-Chambertin Grand Cru, Domaine Taupenot-Merme

There is enough wood to merit mentioning present on the nose that is presently somewhat reduced though I would not expect it to persist beyond a year or two of bottle age. The rich, powerful and relatively robust flavors possess excellent size and weight along with very solid concentration where the abundant amount of dry extract does a fine job of buffering the very firm tannic spine shaping the youthfully austere and impressively long and beautifully complex finish. Over the past 5-ish years or so this wine has become the most consistent entry in the Taupenot portfolio and it appears that 2016 will be no exception. Drink 2034+ 93/100 (Allen Meadows, Burghound, January 2019)

2016 Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru, Domaine Taupenot-Merme
@ £735 per 6 bottle case in bond

A more elegant and airier mix features an array of various red berries that is laced with notes of lavender, violet and earth. Once again there is excellent volume and mid-palate density to the big-bodied flavors that exhibit evident power and punch, all wrapped in a dusty, balanced and focused finish that also flashes a touch of wood. This is presently quite compact and though it’s not quite as structured or concentrated as the Rognets, it is still going to require at least some patience. Drink 2028+ 92/100 (Allen Meadows, Burghound, January 2019)

This should be a real fun comparison in years to come!

by Sara Guiducci, Head of Private Sales, Stannary Wine


We have mixed cases available at £645 6 bottles (inc VAT and delivery).
3 bottles of 2011 Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru, Domaine Taupenot-Merme
3 bottles of 2011 Mazoyères-Chambertin Grand Cru, Domaine Taupenot-Merme

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