Introducing Burgundy: Meursault
In last week's outing in this 12-part series on Burgundy, we enjoyed a glass in the Côte-de-Nuits, the portion of the favored Burgundian Côte d'Or that stretches northward from Beaune toward Dijon. Today we visit the Côte-de-Beaune, the other side of Burgundy's most highly regarded region, for a taste of Meursault.
Meursault ("Murr-so") is one of the relatively few Burgundy villages that produces almost entirely white wine (which, you'll recall, in Burgundy normally means Chardonnay). The whites made here tend to be both full-bodied and acidic, a combination that, at its best, yields wines of real character, particularly from the region's three premier cru vineyards, Les Perrières, Les Genevrières and Les Charmes.
Tasters often find roasted chestnuts in Meursault's aroma, and a fine Meursault from a good vintage can easily improve in a good cellar for 10 to 15 years or more.
Local legend has it that a person who drinks only Meursault will never over-indulge, but I would hesitate to put this to the test, particularly with modern vinification sometimes yielding full-bodied whites at 13.5 to 14 percent alcohol.
Today's example - like the others in this series, from the portfolio of the California importer North Berkeley Imports - is not the most typical example of Meursault. An unfiltered "cuvee unique" specially made for this importer, it's full-bodied, fat and oaky, loaded with luscious fruit but undeniably "American" in style. It should be noted that Yves Boyer-Martenot also produces Meursault "La Pré de Manche" in its own version, separate from the North Berkeley bottling and perhaps more typical of the region.
I'm looking around for quality online map images that are in the public domain or that I can put on our site with permission. Meanwhile, though, here's a clear, simple map of Burgundy on the excellent, content-rich Website of the respected London wine merchant Berry Bros. & Rudd:
For somewhat more detailed maps, with links to the producers that it imports, North Berkeley has a useful Burgundy maps page at:
If you're feeling flush and want quality topographical maps of vineyards to enjoy at home, here are links to Amazon.com listings for the two top wine atlases, both of which contain detailed, colorful maps of all the world's vineyard regions:
Hugh Johnson's World Atlas of Wine ($35, a 30 percent discount):
Oz Clarke's New Wine Atlas, $42 (30 percent off list price):
(If you use these links to purchase, we'll receive a small commission to help us pay the bills at WineLoversPage.com.)
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Yves Boyer-Martenot 2001 Meursault "La Pré de Manche" ($18.50)
Light-gold in color, this wine breathes a heady scent of pears, fresh, ripe and juicy with a hint of spice, like sniffing a hot pear compote. Full and ripe, mouth-filling and luscious, it's fat, slightly sweet, lubricated with butter and framed in oak, "New World" in style but held up with sufficient acidity for structure. Atypical Meursault with a "mid-Atlantic" accent so marked that those who seek "typicity" might find it alarming; it's no "benchmark" Meursault. On the other hand it's hard to quibble with its remarkable fruit and muscularity. Relax, and enjoy. U. S. importer: North Berkeley Imports, Berkeley, Calif. (Jan. 9, 2004)
FOOD MATCH: A simple roast chicken makes an ideal foil.
VALUE: I got this bargain price in North Berkeley's 50-percent-off sale in December. At the full-retail $36.95, though, it's approaching the price of premier cru bottlings.
WHEN TO DRINK: Quality Meursault can mature and improve for a decade or more, but pristine cellar conditions are mandatory. Moreover, this wine's idiosyncratic character makes it hard to predict. I would probably err on the side of drinking it early, while that luscious fruit remains fresh.
WEB LINK: The importer has a profile of Yves Boyer-Martenot and his wines here:
FIND THIS WINE ONLINE: Find the wines of Yves Boyer-Martenot on Wine-Searcher.com:
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Friday, Jan. 16, 2004