Red, Ready, but will improve

2014 Bourgogne Rouge, Les Cras, Olivier Merlin

2014 Bourgogne Rouge, Les Cras, Olivier Merlin

Red | Ready, but will improve | Olivier Merlin | Code:  34375 | 2014 | France > Burgundy > Bourgogne > Bourgogne Rouge | Pinot Noir | Medium Bodied, Dry | 12.5 % alcohol

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The Producer

Olivier Merlin

Olivier Merlin

Olivier Merlin (originally from the Charolais) is widely regarded as being one of the very finest wine makers in the Mâconnais. He and his wife Corinne (a Montbéliarde) began in 1987 by renting 4.5ha. from René Gaillard, of Domaine du Vieux St Sorlin, who wished to retire. Since then he has been buying the property in stages as well as adding new vineyards such as St Véran (in 1994 & 1996). In September 1997 Olivier took out a negociants' 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 30-50 per cent new wood. The latest big project has been the purchase of a steep slope above the village, En Montessu, and its clearance and replanting after being left fallow for five years with cover crops to help the land recuperate. Olivier has old photographs showing this whole slope covered in vineyard in earlier times.

He has established a reputation as one of the region’s most dynamic growers, a reference point for the Maconnais.The whites demonstrate Olivier's exceptional winemaking talents from lowly appellations. They are frequently taken for Côte d'Or wines if tasted blind. His Bourgogne Rouge is at its best after 2 to 3 years when the fruit expresses itself fully.

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

The Grape

Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is probably the most frustrating, and at times infuriating, wine grape in the world. However when it is successful, it can produce some of the most sublime wines known to man. This thin-skinned grape which grows in small, tight bunches performs well on well-drained, deepish limestone based subsoils as are found on Burgundy's Côte d'Or.

Pinot Noir is more susceptible than other varieties to over cropping - concentration and varietal character disappear rapidly if yields are excessive and yields as little as 25hl/ha are the norm for some climats of the Côte d`Or.

Because of the thinness of the skins, Pinot Noir wines are lighter in colour, body and tannins. However the best wines have grip, complexity and an intensity of fruit seldom found in wine from other grapes. Young Pinot Noir can smell almost sweet, redolent with freshly crushed raspberries, cherries and redcurrants. When mature, the best wines develop a sensuous, silky mouth feel with the fruit flavours deepening and gamey "sous-bois" nuances emerging.

The best examples are still found in Burgundy, although Pinot Noir`s key role in Champagne should not be forgotten. It is grown throughout the world with notable success in the Carneros and Russian River Valley districts of California, and the Martinborough and Central Otago regions of New Zealand.

The Region

Bourgogne Rouge


Bourgogne Rouge is the term used to apply to red wines from Burgundy that fall under the generic Bourgogne AOC, which can be produced by over 350 individual villages across the region. As with Bourgogne Blanc and Bourgogne Rosé, this is a very general appellation and thus is hard to pinpoint any specific characteristics of the wine as a whole, due to the huge variety of wines produced.
 
Around 4,600 acres of land across Burgundy are used to produce Bourgogne Rouge, which is around twice as much as is dedicated towards the production of generic whites.
 
Pinot Noir is the primary grape used in Bourgogne Rouge production, although Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris and in Yonne, César grapes are all also permitted to make up the rest of the wine. These wines tend to be focused and acidic, with the fruit less cloying than in some New World wines also made from Pinot Noir, and they develop more floral notes as they age.

Although an entry-level wine, some Bourgogne Rouges can be exquisite depending on the area and producer, and yet at a very affordable price.

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