2010 Jean-Marc Morey, Chassagne-Montrachet “Les Chaumees” 1er Cru

A Serious, Old-School, Chassagne Producer

ChaumeesI’ve had Jean-Marc’s village Chassagne three times over the past month, and while it is quite good with lots of concentration and plenty of complexity, it is almost too serious and backwards. But the 2010 J-M Morey Chaumees 1er Cru I opened last night flat-out blew me away.

2010 Jean-Marc Morey, Chassagne-Montrachet “Les Chaumees” 1er Cru   

Aromatically, this Les Chaumees is not all that complex or floral, with its lavishly, buttery brioche, slate, and baked apples by the sheet pan. But on the palate, it’s remarkably powerful, with lot of ripe, dense, concentration, tons of gravelly-minerality, gunpowder, some roasted root vegetables, and a seriously concentrated essence of ripe, Golden Delicious apples. All of this intense flavor is supported by a lemon juice and lime peel tinted structure.  Although this full-bodied, relatively high-alcohol White Burgundy has a very solid, powerful core of fruit, and a thick mid-palate that dominates the wine, it demonstrates only the slightest of sweetness. Ripe fruit without sweetness: that’s the beauty of Burgundy. On the back of the palate it’s a bit warm, but along with that comes, a long-lasting impression of those oven-roasted apples, along with scalded milk, browned butter and toasty oak.  $56

Weighing the Verdict: Some will not be drawn to the wine’s lack of sweet fruit, or for that matter lack of freshness, but I think this JM Morey Chaumees more than makes up for it with power, concentration and complexity.  This is an old school style, and we should be glad a few people are out there still making wine this way.  On the power scale, It’s got to be a 95 pointer. On the freshness scale however, it scores more-like 87 points.  You ultimately have to decide what is most important for your palate. For me, I find this to be a remarkably successful wine.  93 points.  

The Geography of North-West Chassagne

The Northern border of Chassagne-Montrachet lays at the mouth of the valley where St-Aubin begins. The Les Chaumees vineyard sits on that border, and shares its hillside with St-Aubin’s Premier Cru, ‘Les Charmois’.  I think It is important to note the elevation lines on the map that delineate the two hills that define the region’s warm and cool exposures. 

While the mountain, Mont Rachet (where the 300 mark is on the map) and the outcropping of Dent Jean-Marc Morey and his daughter Carolinede Chien arrange Le Montrachet, Chevalier Montrachet and Batard Montrachet to align in the perfect exposure, these mountains also created a cold-shadow in St Aubin, and a the cool-climate that Chassagne-Montrachet is famous for. These Chassagne vineyards are the coolest planted among the great villages of Puligny, Meursault and Chassagne, giving Chassagnes racy acidity. This acidity highlights the wine’s minerality, but in some years the grapes would not get enough degrees of warmth to develop completely, leaving them lean and shrill. Today, with a couple of decades of global warming, full-ripening is rarely a problem in Chassagne, and these added degrees has brought St Aubin into the limelight as a great-value in White Burgundy with its superb terroir. 

The Producer: Jean-Marc Morey

Jean Marc Morey, here with his daughter Caroline (her husband is Pierre-Yves of Colin-Morey), began making wine from some of his family’s vineyards in 1981, when his father retired.  His style is very traditional, barreling straight from the press, then leaving the wine on the lees for around a year. He adds no yeast, letting the wine ferment with what yeast comes in from the vineyard, or what has propagated the winery over the years. He doesn’t believe in using very much in the way of new oak, employing only 20% new barrique for his premier crus, and roughly 35% new oak for his Chevalier-Montrachet.puligny07

the photo pf Jean-Marc and Caroline Morey is courtesy of http://www.loegismose.dk)

To the right, Mont Rachet from the Puligny side.


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Diary of a Winebuyer

About Me: Thirty years ago, I graduated with a degree in political science from the College of Letters and Science at the University of California at Berkeley. Having grown up at the height of the Cold War, I still have vivid remembrances of being instructed to hide under our elementary school desk, covering our heads. The young, white, female teacher, training us without explanation, to face away from the windows. I suppose it is not all that surprising that I had a particular interest in the realpolitik of international relations. My fascination grew with the discovery that certain conditions almost uniformly exist where all revolutions ferment. Did this mean that the revolutions which had occurred in the first half century were revolutions which had been usurped by Marxists who were in the right place at the right time? Probably. A favorite professor was A. J. Gregor. This was a man who, while rakishly wearing a Gestapo-styled black leather motorcycle jacket, exuded expertise on fascism (which he looked the part) and Marxism. Improbably, he did it with a significant swagger. Then in my last semester, I had the blind luck to take a class on Asian Marxist revolution, and the professor, who just happened to be visiting that year while he worked on some unnamed project, was Chalmers Johnson. In retrospect, I should have known his name, as he was a luminary in the political science community but at that time, I did not. It was a remarkable opportunity to experience the ivory tower, but I seem to remember being anxious to get on with life. After college, I drifted through a few of jobs that were of interest to me. One of my former high school teachers said to me. "If I were in your shoes, I'd get a job as a flight attendant." So in order to be young while I could still afford to, I accepted a job serving chicken or beef at Pan American. With that airline losing money faster than it could sell its routes, I got a job doing cellar work at David Bruce Winery. This was the beginning of my wine career. All during this period, I wrote a still unpublished novel about homegrown terrorists the U.C. Berkeley campus, attempting to use some of what I learned in school, weaving in the Vietnamese political and military strategies of Dau Tranh as professor Johnson had lectured years before. Since the early 1990's, I have been involved in the wine industry, selling fine wine in both the retail and wholesale arenas. I have approached learning about wine, by always challenging myself to question how I know what I think I know? And in an effort to try to find answers I've turned, with varying degrees of success to wine books. Overall, I've not been happy with the quality of most wine writing, finding the authors either to lack any deep knowledge, or unable to move much past what I consider to be superficial information. I recognize that wine writers have to monetize their work, but I believe this has dramatically held back our knowledge and understanding of wine. I have set out to add to our industry's base of knowledge where I can. My first series, 'The Terroir of Burgundy' (which I should probably re-edit and complete some kind of conclusion, but I got involved in this project), can be viewed here. I currently work as a sales and marketing manager for a Burgundy and Bordeaux importer based in Atherton, California.

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