Sat 19 Mar 2011
For a reasonably priced yet extraordinarily pure and intense example of what the chardonnay grape can achieve, look for the Bourgogne Chardonnay 2008, from the distinguished estate of Thierry and Pascale Matrot. The winery is in the white wine village of Meursault, though the Matrots also make white wine from Puligny-Montrachet and red wine from Volnay and Blagny. The estate goes back to 1904, when Thierry Matrot’s grandfather married a woman who, as Clive Coates writes, “had some vines in Meursault.” Matrot has bottled its wines since 1908, in other words not selling wine in bulk to negociants. Thierry Matrot began working with his father at the domaine in 1976; he has been completely in charge since 1983. The estate vineyards, about 45 acres, have been farmed organically since 2000.
For a simple “Bourgogne” designation, either pinot noir or chardonnay grapes can come from just about any place in Burgundy, though the grapes for the Matrot Bourgogne Chardonnay 2008 are from “near Meursault”; the vines average 30 years old. The wine fermented in oak barrels, 15 to 20 percent new, rested in barrels on the lees for 11 months and underwent total malolactic fermentation. So, how come the wine doesn’t smell and taste at all like wood? How come it exhibits almost crystalline clarity of chardonnay grape character and a tremendous sense of vitality and elan? Thoughtful, careful winemaking, that’s how, a deft hand, a sensitive palate and high-quality grapes to begin with. The medium straw-gold colored wine offers lovely surface allure and great dimension in its pineapple-grapefruit scents and flavors fueled by roasted lemon and honey-baked pear, ginger and quince and a huge hit of limestone/shale minerality. A few minutes in the glass bring up notes of lemon balm and bees’-wax, along with a trace of cloves. The whole package is sleek and smooth and mouth-filling, though a-tingle with crisp acidity and quite dry from mid-palate back through the limestone-washed finish. Amazing presence and tone, wonderful marriage of elegance and power for the price. 12.5 percent alcohol. Drink now through 2013 or ’14. Excellent. I paid $20; the national average price is about $18.
LL and I seldom drink a whole bottle of wine with dinner, but we adored this terrific model of chardonnay fashioned in the manner that appeals to us the most. Happily consumed with the never-fail Cod and Chorizo Stew with Potatoes and Leeks.
Imported by Vineyards Brands, Birmingham, Ala.