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2010 Corton Grand Cru Blanc, Lucien Le Moine
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Lucien Lemoine is a small, haute-couture négociant house was established by Mounir and Rotem Saouma in 1999. Their aim is to bring to the market each year a maximum of 100 barrels of premier cru and grand cru burgundy which they have raised in their vaulted cellars in Beaune according to their most exacting standards of élévage.
There is no winemaking involved as the wines reach them after fermentation. Often there is but a single cask of each wine – their 100 barrels of 2007 cover 68 different wines.
There are no contracts with growers, though they will frequently return to the same sources, and no specific requirements as to how the grapes should have been grown or the wines made. Indeed it was very interesting to taste a line-up of Vosne-Romanée wines and see some which had evidently been vinified with stems and others not.
According to Rotem, her husband’s strength is that he can sniff out the quality and style of a vintage at a very early stage. They work closely with their barrel supplier, Stéphane Chassin, to ensure the right barrels for the style of a given wine, using wood from the Jupilles forest which is apparently the slowest growing in France, thus giving the most fine-grained wood. One hundred per cent new wood is used.
The general recipe, although of course each vintage and if need be each wine may require its own treatment, is to ensure late malolactic fermentations, to stir up the plentiful lees for both red and white wines, to rely more on CO2 than SO2 to preserve the wine from oxidation and to maintain the wines unracked in new barrels until the final preparation before bottling.
Typically the wines end up with a soft, sweet-fruit character but otherwise little other evidence of new oak, and those I have tasted have displayed good typicity of their vineyard origins. They are not cheap.
Chardonnay is the "Big Daddy" of white wine grapes and one of the most widely planted in the world. It is suited to a wide variety of soils, though it excels in soils with a high limestone content as found in Champagne, Chablis, and the Côte D`Or.
Burgundy is Chardonnay's spiritual home and the best White Burgundies are dry, rich, honeyed wines with marvellous poise, elegance and balance. They are unquestionably the finest dry white wines in the world. Chardonnay plays a crucial role in the Champagne blend, providing structure and finesse, and is the sole grape in Blanc de Blancs.
It is quantitatively important in California and Australia, is widely planted in Chile and South Africa, and is the second most widely planted grape in New Zealand. In warm climates Chardonnay has a tendency to develop very high sugar levels during the final stages of ripening and this can occur at the expense of acidity. Late picking is a common problem and can result in blowsy and flabby wines that lack structure and definition.
Recently in the New World, we have seen a move towards more elegant, better- balanced and less oak-driven Chardonnays, and this is to be welcomed.
These two Grand Cru vineyards, Corton and Corton-Charlemagne, lie astride three villages at the northern end of the Côte de Beaune: Ladoix, Aloxe-Corton and Pernand-Vergelesses. The main body of the hill of Corton faces due south, with an extended flank exposed to the east, and another facing westwards. The white wines mostly come from west and south-west expositions, along with a narrow band around the top of the hill.The Emperor Charlemagne owned vines here in the eighth century, and legend has it that his wife insisted he planted white grapes so as not to spill red wine down his beard and clothes. Corton-Charlemagne is always white and there is also a theoretical Grand Cru appellation called, simply, Charlemagne, which is never used. Corton is almost entirely red but there are a few white wines too.
Ladoix is a rarely-seen appellation, as most wine here are sold as Côte de Beaune Villages. Aloxe-Corton is better-known, but as with Ladoix the best vineyards have been designated as Corton and Corton-Charlemagne.
There are also 25 lieux-dits that may be used on wine labels, together with Corton: Les Bressandes, Les Chaumes, Clos des Meix, Clos du Roi, Les Combes, Le Corton, Les Fiètres, Les Grèves, Les Manguettes, Les Maréchaudes, Le Meix Lallemand, Les Paulands, Les Perrières, Les Pougets (Pougeots), Les Renardes, La Vigne au Saint, Les Basses Mourottes, Les Carrières, Clos des Cortons Faiveley, Les Grandes Lolières, Le Rognet et Corton, La Toppe au Vert and Les Vergennes.
- 90 hectares of village Aloxe-Corton
- 38 hectares of Premier Cru Aloxe-Corton
- 118 hectares of village Ladoix
- 14 hectares of Premier Cru Ladoix
- 72 hectares of Corton-Charlemagne. The finest from En Charlemagne (Pernand) and Le Charlemagne (Aloxe)
- 160 hectares of Corton. The best from Clos du Roi, Bressandes, Pougets