It’s probably about time that I cover a red Burgundy here, seeing that I’ve written numerous articles stressing the importance of tastings and terroir.
On the face of it, Burgundian red wines are typically made from one grape varietal, Pinot Noir, and I have covered Pinots from other places before.
There are a few reasons why Burgundy is thought to be different. It has a much longer history of cultivating Pinot Noir, there are a myriad of micro-climates and soil types, and due to some rather convoluted inheritance laws it is a very fractured region, where two conjoined domaines could produce vastly different grapes. All of these factors contribute to Burgundy’s reputation for terroir-driven wines.
- Clarity: Clear
- Intensity: Pale
- Colour: Garnet
- Condition: Clean
- Intensity: Medium
- Development: Developing
- Sweetness: Dry
- Acidity: High
- Tannin: Medium+
- Alcohol: Medium+
- Body: Medium+
- Flavor Intensity: Medium+
- Finish: Medium+
- Quality: Very Good
- Readiness/Cellaring: Can drink now, potential to cellar
- Identity: France / Mercurey, Burgundy / Pinot Noir
- Price: High-priced ($40)
- Long thin tears, no staining
- No evidence of gas or sediment
- Aromas of dried flowers, potpourri, mushroom, earth, wood smoke
- Flavours of sour cherries, strawberries, raspberries, sour plum, dried rose
- Substantial tannic grip, but not too tight, tempered by refreshing acidity
- Good value food wine, would pair with stronger dishes like lamb, steak, pork.
- Not a ‘delicate’ Burgundy.
Château de Chamirey has a website, and the following notes for this wine are lifted from there:
Grapes are collected manually, sorted out and then completely destemmed. Alcoholic fermentation lasts from 15 to 18 days in open tanks with regulated temperature. Grape skin is punched down twice per day to stimulate the process. After this period, wine is transferred to oak barrels to mature for a period of 12 to 18 months. 30 to 40% of used oak barrels are brand new. Malolactic fermentation is fully completed. Wine is bottled in traditional Burgundy bottles. Each cork is branded with the Wine estate and vintage year.
Let’s break this down a little bit:
Grapes are collected manually, sorted out and then completely destemmed
This would mean that the grapes were hand-harvested rather than machine-harvested. This is gentler and doesn’t damage the fruit as much, which could introduce oxidised flavours into the final wine. Sorting would further separate the damaged fruit from the rest. Finally, destemming removes the chance that the wine will have any of the more astringent, stalky tannins.
Grape skin is punched down twice per day to stimulate the process
During vinification, the wine is converting sugar into alcohol. As this goes on the skins of the grapes rise up and float atop the wine below. Punching down the skins helps the wine to extract more colour and tannin.
After this period, wine is transferred to oak barrels to mature for a period of 12 to 18 months
Maturation in oak allows for a slow process of oxidative ageing, which mellows out the flavours and tannins in a gentle manner. This is because oak is watertight, but not airtight.
30 to 40% of used oak barrels are brand new
New oak would impart more flavours to the wine than used oak.
Malolactic fermentation is fully completed.
This is really done for all red wines, so it doesn’t really need to be mentioned. This is usually more important in Chardonnay, where the harsher malic acids (usually associated with green apple flavours) are turned into softer lactic acids (associated with milk and cream). In a red wine, rather than contributing the same flavours, it would more likely have a greater effect on it’s texture, making the wine seem more rounded and rich on the palate.
I do disagree with their suggested cellaring timeframe:
Le Château de Chamirey Mercurey rouge 2008 could be tasted right away or kept in cellar for 3 to 5 years.
If you follow suggested cellaring timeframes exactly, you would think that this wine is too old to drink. However it has developed into a lovely and complex wine that still has some life in it yet.
Read more: Rational Wine Experiment – The Horizontal Tasting