2009 Puligny-Montrachet, Champ Gain, 1er Cru, Camille Giroud

2009 Puligny-Montrachet, Champ Gain, 1er Cru, Camille Giroud

White, Ready, but will improve   White | Ready, but will improve | Maison Camille Giroud | Code: 6407 | 2009 | France > Burgundy > Cote de Beaune > Puligny Montrachet | Chardonnay | Medium Bodied, Dry | 13.0 % alcohol

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The Story

Maison Camille Giroud

Producer

Maison Camille Giroud

There are two parts to the Camille Giroud story. The first begins in 1865 when the enterprising young Camille Giroud founded the small négociant firm which carries his name. He married late, as did his son, so by the end of the 20th century the company was still being run by the founder’s daughter-in-law and her two sons. The company’s motto in the later days was to make wine in as old-fashioned a way as possible: heavy extraction and very long barrel ageing. Part of the crop might be sold early on but most was kept back until it was ready to drink, which might be 30 or 40 years later. There were plenty of misses but also some extraordinarily fine wines. Almost all production was and still is red. Stocks of these old style wines still exist, with various 1976s still to be offered for sale.

In January 2002 the company was bought by an American consortium led by banker Joe Wender and winery owner Ann Colgin, and a new chapter began.  The business is managed by winemaker/technical director David Croix (of the eponymous Domaine des Croix) with a major revamping of the winemaking facilities and especially replacement and renewal of the old barrels to make wines in a much purer, more modern style. The company also owns 1.20 hectares of vineyards, consisting of Hautes-Côtes de Beaune, Beaune premier cru Cras and Beaune premier cru Avaux.

The quality of winemaking is now consistent and very much in the modern, quality-oriented genre, although the practice of very gentle oak treatment and little racking continues, so that each cuvée has a very individual character.

Camille Giroud has tiny vineyard holdings in Beaune; otherwise  relying on contracts from as far afield as Marsannay and Maranges, with particular strengths in Corton and the Gevrey Chambertin vineyards. The current plan is to increase the range of white wine offerings.

Jasper Morris MW, Burgundy Wine Director and author of the award-winning Inside Burgundy comprehensive handbook.

Grape

Chardonnay

Chardonnay

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.

Region

Puligny Montrachet

Puligny was one of two villages (along with Chassagne) which gained permission in 1879 to hyphenate the name of its most famous vineyard, Montrachet, to its own.

The reputation of Puligny-Montrachet is based around its four Grands Crus. Montrachet labels often boast a noble, triumphant ‘Le’ in front of its name, lest you dare confuse it with any lesser wine. It has much to be proud of, with many considering Montrachet to be the greatest white wine in the world. At its best it has an intensity, complexity and elegance that make you wonder how such a wine could be made from mere grapes.

The luxurious and explosive Chevalier-Montrachet is not quite as deep, although it is probably the next best. Only marginally less impressive, and rather more consistent than Montrachet is the richly textured Bâtard-Montrachet (also shared with Chassagne). Bienvenues-Bâtard-Montrachet is equally good, with the focus on honeyed finesse and exquisite balance rather than richness.

These legendary wines are supported by a host of fabulous Premier Cru vineyards capable of reaching Grand Cru quality. Brimming with flavour and intensity, Le Cailleret and Les Pucelles (which both lie across the road from Le Montrachet) are prime candidates, along with Les Demoiselles, Les Combettes and Folatières.

Sandwiched between the larger Chassagne and Meursault, Puligny produces wines that are more striking than any in the Côte d’Or, portraying a floral elegance alongside a stylish, steely concentration. They are very different to Meursault: more refined and delicate, and less rich.

Village level Puligny-Montrachet from top growers can be very good indeed, but is all too often unexciting and disappointing. Grands Crus normally need at least eight years before they can be broached, and last for 20 or more. Premiers Crus should generally be enjoyed between five and 15 years of age; village wines from three to 10 years.

In theory, you can find red Puligny-Montrachet, but it scarcely exists anymore, and is rarely worth the price tag.

  • 114 hectares of village Puligny-Montrachet
  • 100 hectares of Premier Cru vineyards (17 in all). The best vineyards include Les Demoiselles, Le Cailleret, Les Pucelles, Les Combettes, Les Folatières
  • 21 hectares of Grand Cru vineyards: Le Montrachet (part), Chevalier-Montrachet, Bâtard-Montrachet (part), Bienvenues-Bâtard-Montrachet
  • Recommended Producers: LeflaiveCarillon
  • Recommended Restaurant: Le Montrachet (excellent cuisine and good wine list; also an hotel)

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