2021 Mercurey, Blanc, Camille Giroud, Burgundy
Jasper Morris, Inside Burgundy (January 2023)
About this WINE
Maison Camille Giroud
At Maison Camille Giroud, a diversity of terroir allows for delicious variety. From perfumed, plush reds to perfumed whites; their precise wines are made from plots all across the famed Côte d’Or – what unites each parcel is a signature precision and character.
Founded in 1865, Maison Camille Giroud began as a specialist négociant. They had a few hectares of their own vines, but the vast majority of their wines were purchased from top-ranked growers across the region. They’d then age these wines in their cellars until they reached peak maturity; sometimes decades later.
In 2001, Giroud was purchased by a consortium, counting Napa Valley winery owner Ann Colgin and a number of wine investors as members. They wished to retain the distinctive business model of the maison as well as developing their terroir-driven approach with new, modern techniques. They brought in young winemaker David Croix and undertook a major revamping of the winery.
Many new techniques were introduced, including a wooden press for the red wines, open wooden vats for fermentation, subtle use of oak and minimal racking. David's legacy of innovation was succeeded in 2016 by Carel Voorhuis, who is crafting similarly pure, seductive and terroir-driven wines; and is continuing to manage the valuable cellar.
During the tenure of winemaker David Croix, all wines were made from purchased grapes, with the exception of three cuvées: Beaune Les Avaux and Aux Cras, and Hautes-Côtes de Beaune Au Crêtot. Most of the grapes purchased come from old vines – up to 90 years old in some cases – and all come from producers with whom the maison has longstanding personal relationships.
All grapes are sorted twice. Reds are partially or fully de-stemmed depending on the vintage, and vinified in stainless steel. Whites are vinified in 228- to 600-litre casks; the choice of barrels for ageing is carefully matched to the appellation, and only 15-30% of maturation involves new oak. All wines are fermented with natural yeasts, bottled without fining and with only coarse filtration.
Mercurey is the largest appellation of the Côte Chalonnaise region, and produces both red and white wine, although red does tend to dominate with almost 80% production coming from Pinot Noir grapes. The remaining white wine is made predominantly from Chardonnay.
Named after the Roman messenger deity of trade, the appellation is generally regarded as the most widely recognised of the five villages, indeed for a while the Côte Chalonnaise was referred to as the ‘Région de Mercurey,’ and it has the largest production by far: over half of all wine from the Côte Chalonnaise is from Mercurey.
No Grand Cru vineyards lie within the Côte Chalonnaise, however Mercurey produces wine from 32 Premier Cru vineyards, accounting for over a fifth of its vine-growing land. Mercurey reds are generally regarded as strong, full-bodied and exhibiting notes of red fruits such as cherries, or violets, and are very well-suited to red meats such as beef, or stews. The rarer whites on the other hand are known for their minerality, and hints of slate and apple.
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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This comes from the Les Mussiaux lieu-dit, on the plateau above Saint-Martin-sous-Montaigu and on limestone. The altitude makes this one of the last sites to be harvested, even after the reds, and there was less frost in 2021 as well. This has lots of chalky freshness and an engaging straight-forwardness. Drink 2023-2029
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