Burgundy Rocks 2011

Domaine Taupenot-Merme & Domaine de Montille

In 2011 the summer came in spring and the autumn in summer. Harvesting began early at the end of August. The season produced lighter reds. Pure fruit, lively energy and light, finely-grained light tannins with a fresh lift to the end of the palate. A very approachable and charming style. A very Burgundian vintage. Much more typical than the great, but rich 2009.

In common with the 2011 whites, the natural balance is one of medium alcohol, sweet fruit and moderate, but fresh tasting acidity. In these lighter wines there was nothing to mask the terroir when I tasted the vintage out of barrel in the summer of 2012. So five years on (spring 2017) how are they faring?

Domaine Taupenot Merme in Morey-Saint Denis and Domaine Montille in Volnay brought some of their 2011 wines to London for a tasting entitled ‘Burgundy Rocks,’ hosted by Stannary Wines. The idea, I assume, was that the terroir should be clearly apparent in these 2011 wines, although the domaines will have used different approaches to achieve this.

Both domaines are organic. Romain Taupenot converted the estate in 2001 when he took over. “It’s earth and heart to me,” he remarks, but sadly he relinquished organic status in 2016 in the face of difficult conditions. Montille pushed through.

Romain remarks, “I like purity. Purity of flavour and a transparency of character. I’m a lazy winemaker (by which he means ‘hands off’). The wines have 7-9 days cold soak and I do not use stems.” The subject of whole bunch or de-stemmed rose almost immediately. When I first reviewed the vintage in 2012, many vignerons reported pulling back on whole bunch as stems could be a touch green. Most were careful with punch down as pips were also green. It was not a vintage to go looking for extraction, but with care the tannins are light and elegant.

Domaine Montille uses whole bunch, although not on vines under twenty years old. They are quite happy to use green stems. “Our stems are green,” says Gautier Roussille, who is Etienne de Montille’s right hand man. “They may taste a bit herbal, but if they were brown, you would get a more woody resin note. We want to allow the stem to work with the juice, but not to press and extract from the stem.”

Using stems does require Montille to lightly filter the wine before bottling as stems can give some haziness, admits Gautier. However Romain also filters if he sees any turbidity as this “will disturb the fruit.”

So we tasted six wines. Did they show good terroir character? The tasting notes follow. There is also a film in which Romain explains the idea of terroir and describes the terroir and the style of village wine in Gevrey-Chamberin, Morey-Saint-Denis and Chambolle. For the premier cru he describes Gevrey-Chambertin, Bel Air, as this is a particularly nice parcel. As for Grand Cru, Domaine Taupenot have parcels in the Charmes and Mazoyères. Both can be labelled Charmes-Chambertin, but he chooses to make them separately as the terroir and wine are different. He explains more in the film.

In brief these Premier Cru 2011s are at a good stage for drinking now and over the short to medium term. As mentioned it’s a lighter vintage which was always quite approachable. It’s a bit like 2007, but with more substance. The best approach to tannin was a cautious one. The most successful wines have lighter tannins and these tannins are mellow and nicely silky in the wine. At this point in time the premier cru are on a cusp between fruit and more developed characters, which is a good ‘place’ for this vintage.

Tasting Notes 2011

Domaine Montille, Beaune 1er Cru Grèves 

Spicy nose with hint of aniseed and marzipan. Soft and supple onto the palate. Fresh acidity. Showing some development in nutty, mushroom notes, but still with some more youthful cherry. It is quite a light wine with a silky texture. Score 17.75

Domaine Montille have three Beaune Premier cru. Beaune, Sizes is on the clay and should make a wine with a generous and open palate, while Beaune, Perrières is on limestone and the “palate is more square,” says Gautier. I’d certainly says that limestone tends to make a firmer, stricter style. Beaune, Grèves if a lighter more gravelly soil where the roots can more easily penetrate. It should be the most complex, deep and elegant of the three. This 2011 is a smooth and rather elegant wine and a good reflection of the terroir.


Domaine Montille, Volnay 1er cru, Les Mitans 

The nose has a gamey, meaty character with notes of ripe cherry. A robust nose with some stalky character. On the palate it is beefy also with a herbal note. It is quite concentrated and has chunky tannins. It combines ripeness with stalky character. Frankly it’s a touch coarse and slightly dusty on the finish. Score 17.
Mitans 1er cru often produces rather rustic wines. It’s sturdy and made more so with the whole bunch. Gautier argues the whole bunch gives the wine energy and remarks “the stalks are a good friend.” I’m not convinced. They use 100%.


Domaine Montille, Pommard 1er cru, Les Rugiens

Blueberry and red fruit on the nose. Floral too. Fresh and elegant strike. The palate is deep and complex. Firm and channelled palate. Firm, but silky tannins. It has a strong core. Plenty of spice and the tension carries to the long finish. Score 18.5
Gautier says “It’s a Côte de Beaune terroir, which is more like a Côte de Nuits terroir.” This shows good typicity in the strong core, edge and tension. The whole cluster works so much better here.


Domaine Taupenot-Merme, Morey-Saint-Denis, 1er Cru La Riotte

The nose is quite appealing with some floral notes, but I don’t like the palate much…it is quite green and while the tannins are quite supple, they are also rather coarse. Score 16.
Romain remarks, “lots of clay here and the tannins are quite obvious, but it will get better with time and will gain in the middle palate…the 2001 has developed a mid palate now.”


Domaine Taupenot-Merme, Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Bel Air 

Cool restrained, high toned aroma. Aromatic, lively palate. It is juicy with bright redcurrant fruits and fine tannins. It is pure and tight with a long and salty finish. I like the precision at the end of the palate. Score 18.25
This is at the same altitude as Ruchottes and on the same limestone. The main difference, Romain points out, is the slope which is steeper here and nearer the tree line, so it gets less sunlight than Ruchottes and the soil is very shallow, almost on the mother rock. The acidity is always high . This section of Gevrey lies between the Combes de Liards and Lavaux both bringing cool air down from the Hautes-Côtes. I particularly like Ruchottes and this terroir is could be seen as a younger sibling. Romain explains more about Bel Air in the film.


Domaine Taupenot-Merme, Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru, Les Pruliers 

Succulent, full-bodied and generous wine. Plenty of freshness (from the clay) and juicy fruit. Smoothly supportive tannins. Quite a lot of substance for 2011. It is a generous wine. Score 18.25
I think it has good Pruliers character, which for me is full and generous and fresh given the 60-70 of clay. It’s a south NSG, but not all the southern NSGs fall into the more ‘masculine’ mould. The best Pruliers should be sumptuous., but not too bullish.