Thursday, December 30, 2010

Domaine Buisson-Charles 2009

Next it was off to meet with Patrick Essa at his father-in-law’s Domaine of Buisson-Charles. Patrick has been making the wines here since 1981 and has his own very clear ideas about the style he seeks to achieve. He eschews maceration, harvests relatively early (started on 12th September for the 2009’s), never seeks more than 13 per cent alcohol and uses 30% new oak. They are also very reasonably priced.

I had tasted here a few years previously and the wines had both interested and, to be honest, confused me slightly. The barrel samples tended to exhibit pretty firm acidity and were what I would describe as a “very traditional” style – and yet any older bottles opened displayed wonderful freshness and great complexity – almost (and I know, it does sound strange) with aged Chenin Blanc-like complexity.

And so it was also this time. I was back in translation mode, so balancing a notebook, glass and dividing the brain between olfactory and translatory senses. Easy! As we tasted the barrel samples, the ripeness of the 2009 vintage was quite evident, although backed by pretty firm acidity. There was some “heat” in a couple of them – but the challenge (based on previous experiences) was trying to determine how they might evolve. The Meursault “Tessons” and the 1er Cru “le Cras” were both impressive and my favourites of the various samples tasted.

Patrick also produces some very tasty reds – a lovely rich and yet floral Pommard villages and then a 1er Cru “Santenots” from Volnay. My preference was for the Pommard.

To finish off, Patrick offered to open an older “mystery” bottle of Meursault Villages for us to guess the vintage. Unfortunately the first bottle he tried had a soft cork which disappeared back into the bottle, but undeterred he headed off into the dark cellar to return with one more. I guessed around the 2001 mark – about 10 years old. To all of our surprise it turned out to be a 1981 – almost 30 years old. It had amazing freshness and was very impressive. Patrick was on a roll at this stage, so next up was a 2005 Meursault 1er Cru Charmes – except that it had already been open for 10 days! Again, very impressive.

And therein lies the challenge with wines like these. The tasting re-confirmed my original opinion that these wines can be challenging in their youth – I hesitate to use the phrase “old fashioned” as I don’t think Patrick’s approach is in any way outdated. But he makes wines for the long haul – and again I use the example of an aged Chenin-blanc – that can take a few years to shed their austerity – but undoubtedly blossom into beautiful examples of wonderful Meursaults.

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