Domaine Buisson-Charles, Meursault
I was met by the affable Patrick Essa. His father-in-law Michel Buisson is now 76. Patrick hasbeen running the domaine with his wife Catherine for the past twelve years.They have six hectares. One third of which in red in Volnay and Pommard. There are 4 hectaresof whites, only in Meursault. 2.5 of village vines and 1.5 premier cru. In the 2011 vintage therewill be some Chassagne next years. Patrick married into a wine family, but soon became hookedby his father-in-law. He explains that “it was really important for me to understand whiteBurgundy with a cultural vision. I do not produce wine for me, but for the appellation. Thedomaine name is not as important as the terroir.” The new label reflects this, as, unusually, thedomaine name is relegated to a position bottom left.
For Patrick one of the most important things is selection. “We select in the vines. I want nobotrytis and no green grapes.” He likes no more alcohol than 13 or 13.5 at the maximum. “Weadd nothing, no yeast, no enzymes.” He adds, “It is a vision centered on the culture of the vines– good grapes; grapes with good balance.”“We do not have a high production 40-45 h/ha white and 35 to 40hl/ha maximum for the reds.
However the 2010 was much lower and it’s not something I like either, as it is difficult to meet the demand of my importers. In 2010 they a very low 22hl/ha in the Aligoté for example. Theywere down to half yields on white in general and not much more for reds – 25hl/ha. (Compare2009’s 46hl/ha white and 42hl/ha for reds.) “We would select out any botrytis if there was any,
but the problem was due to the poor flowering. It seems they did not set. “We harvested withthe sun.” He recalls no problem with the storm. He harvested on the 18
th September – theprovisional date was 24th, but they brought it forward for the red and the 20th for the whites.(Pommard was later as they are younger vineyards).“I think it is the best vintage for white since 1999,” remarks Patrick. He liked 2009 for sweetness,but considers, “2010 has great concentration with acidity and perfect fruit and intense flavour. For me the slow alcoholic fermentation is a very good sign.” This finished in December.
For most the MLF is still going. Only about 30% are through MLF. “For me it is important as wework with a lot of lees. The lees are selected for aging for 18 months. I like a slow MLF; slow autolysis of the lees and I like the use of the natural CO2 to protect the wines, rather thanadding SO2.” He uses as little SO2 as he can get away with.He does not often use bâtonage generally. “I used some in 2008, but it’s not something I especially like. We have natural glycerol in the wine, we do not need bâtonage. I like purity and density and good balance with the acidity.”
Pressing: he likes a little foulage. He prefers to crush a little so he can use a lower bar (1.6 to amaximum of 2) of pressure and no turning. He does not like whole cluster in white for he feels he would have to use higher pressure. No sulphur is used in the first two hours. He sections off the juice, filling up each barrel by degrees, so he gets equal proportions of the lees in each barrel. It is all done by gravity to barrels in the cellar beneath the winery. It is all vinified in cask with 25% new oak then remainder in 1 to 4 year old casks. Only Aligoté is in stainless steel. “It is a very old vineyard, (70 years) which reaches naturally over 13 degrees, so in oak it would be too fat.”
A little sulphur before the fermentation. As mentioned he doesn’t like it, “but I can not make white without any protection.” “We produce wines for ageing; they are not that exuberant in the first part of life. The wines need five years, if it is possible.”
The samples were representative of the finished cuvees with 25% new oak, 25% 1 year old, 2 year and 3. So it is the expression of the cuveés. He uses just Vosges forest, only Damy and medium toast.
A very good flight of wines. Meticulous.
*Bourgogne Aligoté 2010
Stony vineyard below the main road in Meursault with clay soils. 70 year old vines. 40% MLF. 12.8 degrees natural. pH 3.08. After fermentation TA 5.6. 10ouvres. 6.5 barrels. “Lovely harvest with small grapes in 2010. We have the same concentration as 2008, 2002 and 1999 which were very good years for Aligoté,” remarks Patrick. It is very important for me to have nose like spring water with no reduction in whites. Like the smell of a river. I like Aligoté to have green apple aroma. You should have this for a varietal expression
after the MLF. Fresh and crisp and airy on the nose. Lovely ripeness on the palate. Firm acidity encased in fruit. It is energetic. Top notch. It will need a little time in bottle. Very zesty and concentrated for Aligoté.
This was the first wine I had tasted from this domaine and I had no pre-conceptions. I had selected them randomly to visit. Things suddenly looked rather interesting. I was keen to taste more.
Bourgogne Aligote 2009
Whafting aroma with fragrant, light aroma of lychee. A delicate note with white flesh. Pure and light and intense. It lovely. Ripe and very floaty. Delicious.
*Meursault, Vieilles Vignes 2010
6 different vineyards. He wanted a ‘round cuvée’ from the village. “If you have good soil withgood quality, but with no singular quality, it is better to blend to get complexity in the blend. It is an historic vision; the vision of our ancestors and our choice. 20 barrels. It will get 15 months in barrel with one racking. No fining. Many of Patrick’s wine in 2010 have no filtration. Breezy stone fruit on the aroma. Smooth expression. Lovely concentration and juiciness. There is good intensity here. A little grip and good, coating palate coverage. It shows complexity for a village wine. The finish is long and very pure. Really a lovely Meursault. From 2012/13
*Meursault, Les Tessons 2010
1/3 of a hectare in the southern part of the vineyards, “rockier soil with red soil,” says Patrick, “So it makes an expressive wine in the first part of its life.” The vines are 50 years old. 50% MLF.Tiny production. Aromatic with hints of white peach. This is taut, pure and intense. Compact on the palate and the cool minerality comes though on the finish. Wonderful tension. Very mineral on the finish. There is a silkiness to the minerality. Particularly good. From 2013/14
Meursault, Les Tessons 2009
Touch of pain epice on the nose. Very intense. Bright and lively on the palate. Smooth, straight and finely honed with satin texture. Lovely long finish. Just delicious. Score 17/20. From 2012/13
Meursault, Les Cras 2010
“¼ hectare in front of their Volnay Santenots. Lots of small white stone and a sunny exposure.When you have pear, it is an indication of the ripeness of the vintage. This 13.5 – it is always high in alcohol and we always harvested this first.” Not a low pH here at pH3.4 and acidity 5.6 A more graphite minerality and savory aroma. The palate is rich, firm and taut. Slightly reserved. A full palate with ripe, but white, peach, but white peach and a sappy, austere note at the end. It has grip and intensity. Particularly good to fine. From 2014
Meursault, Les Cras 2009
Spice and orange flowers. Ripe and rounded and sleek; very seductive. It’s full, generous withnotes of smooth stone. Breadth to the palate. An austerity with savoury character underpins it as it does the 2010, so it’s both rich and savory. Score 18. From 2015
*Meursault, Charmes 2010
Upper part, just under Perrières. Twenty year old vineyards. Tiny production. No millerandage,but very small grapes. 2 barrels only Intense aroma. Certainly ripe, but quite reserved. Very elegant. It is svelte and smooth. Lovely intensity and a whisperingly seductive finish. Very fine knit; silky, woven with glimmering acidity and threads of silky minerality. Quite secretive. I like its poise. Fine+. From 2014
Meursault, Les Gouttes d’Or 2010
TA5.6, pH3.2 and 13 degrees. 1/3 MLF. “Probably the best Gouttes d’Or me since 1979,” says Patrick. 4 barrels and 1/3 hectare. You can smell the MLF going though, but what is most evident is the compact palate, (he says it show typical menthol character). It certainly has palpable vigour and muscularity. A very athletic wine with darker, graphite minerality. Plenty of power on the finish. An impressive Goutes D’Or. Firmly fine. From 2015/6
Meursault, Les Bouchères 2010
Patrick sees this as likes neighboring Genevrières dessus – “the same style and soil and in the C19th it may have been sold as Genevrières.” Here the vines are 70 years old. It is a specialty of the domaine. pH 3.3 TA 5.6 13.5. It was the last vineyard they harvested in 2010.The MLF has not started. Haunting fragrant, aromatic nose. This is peachy, generously floral and spicy. It has a fragrance on the palate too floating above the juicy fruit. It has a looser woven texture. A supple, soft, lacy character. It doesn’t have the muscle of the Gouttes d'Or or the stony reserve of the Cras. It is subtle. Fine. From 2013
UK: Richards Walford. Robertson; Flint
USA: Scott Paul. Vintner Select.