2008 Meursault, Clos des Ambres, Arnaud Ente, Burgundy
About this WINE
Domaine Arnaud Ente
Domaine Arnaud Ente is one of the hottest wine properties in Mersault today and arguably Burgundy's brightest rising star. Stylistically Arnaud's wines lie somewhere between the rich, generous, hedonistic style of Dominique Lafon and the linear, precise, mineral, citrus character of Coche Dury.
Arnaud's family is originally from the north of France. His father married the daughter of Puligny vigneron Camille David and Arnaud was born in 1966. The vineyards from this connection are currently being exploited by Arnaud’s brother Benoit (and by an aunt who sells in bulk to negociants). While working at the legendary Coche Dury, Arnaud married Marie-Odile Thévenot in 1991 and the following year started work in Meursault, farming vineyards rented from his father-in-law, vigneron Phillipe Thévenot.
During the 1990s Arnaud's wines attracted a lot of attention for their opulent style, due to his preference to pick late for maximum ripeness. Since 2000 the wines have displayed a more complex, naturally acidic style with enhanced minerality, which reflects the move to a programme of earlier picking. His wines are now amongst the very finest in the village.
Arnaud's aim is to do the best possible job from the vineyards he has available to him. He currently exploits 4 hectares with a total workforce of four people: himself, his wife Marie-Odile and two employees. Few, if any, other domaines have as high a ratio of man hours per hectare.
Arnaud is every bit as meticulous in the cellar as in the vineyard. The grapes are sometimes crushed before pressing in a hydraulic press, before the juice is settled and then put into barrel. Large 600 litre barrels are used for his Aligoté, Bourgogne Blanc and some of his regular Meursault cuvée. The rest is vinified and matured in normal barrels for the first year, without much emphasis on new oak. With the thoughtfulness for which Arnaud is known, the percentage of new wood barrels used for his top wines has dropped from 35% to 20% and a variety of different barrel types are now used to increase the complexity of the final wines.
The white grapes are usually crushed, though not always, before pressing. The must is left to settle for 24 hours then the clear juice and fine lees are put in barrel for 11 months ageing before being racked into tank for a further six months maturation. They are bottled without fining or filtration. As well as the wines listed below there are interesting cuvees of Aligoté and red Bourgogne Grande Ordinaire (gamay) both from vines planted in 1938, and Bourgogne Blanc.
Jasper Morris MW, Burgundy Wine Director and author of the award-winning Inside Burgundy comprehensive handbook.
There are more top producers in Meursault than in any other commune of the Côte d’Or. Certainly it is the most famous and popular of the great white appellations. Its wines are typically rich and savoury with nutty, honeyed hints and buttery, vanilla spice from the oak.Even though it is considerably larger than its southerly neighbours Chassagne and Puligny, Meursault contains no Grands Crus. Its three best Premiers Crus, however – Les Perrières, Les Genevrières and Les Charmes – produce some of the region’s greatest whites: they are full, round and powerful, and age very well. Les Perrières in particular can produce wines of Grand Cru quality, a fact that is often reflected in its price. Meursault has also been one of the driving forces of biodynamic viticulture in the region, as pioneered by Lafon and Leflaive.
Many of the vineyards below Premier Cru, known as ‘village’ wines, are also well worth looking at. The growers vinify their different vineyard holdings separately, which rarely happens in Puligny or Chassagne. Such wines can be labelled with the ‘lieu-dit’ vineyard alongside (although in smaller type to) the Meursault name.
Premier Cru Meursault should be enjoyed from five to 15 years of age, although top examples can last even longer. Village wines, meanwhile, are normally at their best from three to 10 years.
Very occasionally, red Meursault is produced with some fine, firm results. The best red Pinot Noir terroir, Les Santenots, is afforded the courtesy title of Volnay Santenots, even though it is actually in Meursault.
- 305 hectares of village Meursault. The best vineyards include Clos de la Barre, Tesson, Chevalières, Rougeot, Narvaux
- 132 hectares of Premier Cru vineyards (17 in all). The finest vineyards include Les Perrières, Les Genevrières and Les Charmes
- Recommended producers: Comte Lafon, Arnaud Ente, Coche Dury, Guy Roulot, Jean-Philippe Fichet, Patrick Javillier, François Jobard, Michel Bouzereau
- Recommended restaurant: Le Chevreuil
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.
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Arnaud’s Clos des Ambres is fine, pure and fresh on the nose, developing a little butteriness after a few moments in line with a typical Meursault. Yields were especially low after spring hail, and this consequently has exceptional weight on the palate. Fabulous.
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