White, Ready, but will improve

2012 Meursault, Camille Giroud

2012 Meursault, Camille Giroud

White | Ready, but will improve | Maison Camille Giroud | Code:  22847 | 2012 | France > Burgundy > Cote de Beaune > Meursault | Chardonnay | Medium Bodied, Dry | 13.0 % alcohol

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The Producer

Maison Camille Giroud

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.

The 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.

The Region

Meursault

Meursault

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.

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