2020 Mâcon-la Roche Vineuse, Les Cras, Olivier Merlin, Burgundy
About this WINE
Olivier Merlin is widely regarded as being one of the very finest winemakers in the Mâconnais. He and his wife Corinne began in 1987 by renting 4.5 hectares. from René Gaillard, of Domaine du Vieux Saint-Sorlin, who wished to retire. Since then, Olivier has been buying the property in stages as well as adding new vineyards such as St Véran (in 1994 and ‘96). In September ‘97 Olivier took out a négociant's licence in order to be able to make some Pouilly Fuissé, since land in this appellation is neither available to buy nor to rent.
He makes three cuvées of Pouilly-Fuissé (one each from Fuissé, Vergisson and Chaintré) and a Viré-Clessé. From 2000 some Moulin-à-Vent joined the stable. The single-vineyard wines, including Mâcon-La Roche Vineuse, Les Cras and St Véran, Le Grand Bussière, get 18 months’ barrel-ageing with 30 to 50% new wood.
Olivier has established a reputation as one of the region’s most dynamic growers, a reference point for the Mâconnais. The whites demonstrate his exceptional winemaking talents, and the potential of “lowly” appellations. They are frequently taken for Côte d'Or wines if tasted blind. His Bourgogne Rouge is at its best after two to three years when the fruit expresses itself fully.
Olivier and Corinne have recently been joined at the domaine by their sons, Théo and Paul, who have completed their winemaking studies, and also spent time working at wineries in the Mornington Peninsula. With this extra manpower at the domaine’s disposal, Olivier has acquired a handful of new parcels including the Clos de France, in the heart of the village of Vergisson (2018 will be the inaugural vintage of the eponymous single-vineyard wine).
Discover the story behind our Own Selection Pouilly-Fuissé, made for us by Olivier. Read more
The Mâconnais is currently perhaps Burgundy’s most dynamic region. In the past only Pouilly-Fuissé – source of rich and ripe white wines – stood out from the crowd, but not only are such satellite appellations as Pouilly-Vinzelles and the newly-created (ie in 1998) Viré-Clessé coming alive, but a new generation of growers are also now producing some excellent Mâcon Villages.
These wines used to be cheap and simple, rarely lasting more than a year or two after the vintage, but now one or two growers in each village are making proper, oak-aged, complex and reasonably-concentrated wines which will develop well in bottle.
- 53 hectares of AC Mâcon (70 percent white)
- 406 hectares of AC Mâcon Superieur (75 percent red).
- 1,840 hectares of AC Mâcon Villages. Best individual villages include La Roche Vineuse, Lugny, Milly-Lamartine, Chardonnay, Uchizy.
- 291 hectares of AC St Véran. Recommended producers include Domaine des Deux Roches, Olivier Merlin.
- 47 hectares of AC Pouilly Vinzelles and 31 hectares of AC Pouilly Loché. Recommended producers include Bret Bros, Domaine de la Soufrandiere.
- 211 hectares of AC Viré Clessé. Recommended producers include Bret Bros, Domaine Ste Barbe,
- 764 hectares of AC Pouilly Fuissé. Recommended producers include Ch de Fuisse, Ch des Rontets, Bret Bros, Olivier Merlin, Cordier.
- Recommended Restaurant : La Table de Chaintré (Chaintré)
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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These are old vines planted on a steep, south-facing site with high limestone content. The wine typically shows best at least three years after bottling. Unsurprisingly, it’s a little closed now, but with concentration and latent energy. It’s spicy and creamy, with a flinty reduction, showing much promise. The finish is eye-wateringly fresh, rounded out by smoky oak. Drink 2025-2035.
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