Catherine and Patrick Essa’s new reception, crush, and storage facilities are now completed and they have expanded through control of significant additional acreage in Les Boucheres and Gouttes d’Or. Patrick Essa's approach (like that of his father-in-law Michel Buisson) seemed ideal for restraining any over-the-top tendencies of vintage 2006, but the 2007s here are also very successful, if slightly less obviously imposing. Readers are encouraged to consult my report in issue 180 for further details on the approach taken at this under-rated estate that produces consistently age-worthy Meursault.
The Buisson-Charles 2007 Meursault Vieilles Vignes – which received the same 14 months of elevage (close to 13 of them in barrel) as the estate’s single vineyard bottlings – now represents an assemblage from diverse and complimentary sites, most notably (from south to north) Pellans (adjacent to Charmes); Millerandes (a considerable distance below Poruzots); and Meix Chavaux and Vereuils (high up, in the direction of Auxey). The estate still sells their non-cru Meursault from younger vines to negociants. Linden flower, honeysuckle, fresh lime, and white peach inform a nose that could almost be that of a Riesling, and the delicacy and refinement of this wine on the palate is consistent with that impression. A subtle suggestion of creaminess, along with notes of lightly-toasted hazelnut, alkalinity, and wet stone – all of which emerge as the wine takes on air – pulls toward the classic Meursault axis. Persistent floral notes and a hint of bitter-sweet orange zest add to the allure of a refreshing and buoyant, if understated finish. To the extent that 15% new wood is evident – and I find a mere trace of resin and lanolin here – Essa’s opinion is that this should always disappear into the fabric of the wine within 2-3 years or else he has misjudged his regimen. (For the record, he rather unorthodoxly favors lightly-toasted Vosges oak barriques.) Expect this to perform well for at least 5-7 years. 90
Picked, as it happens, on the same day as that of his friend Jean-Philippe Fichet, Essa’s 2007 Meursault Les Tessons reflects pungent, bitter-sweet, and in the context of white Burgundy downright exotic floral and citrus aromas and flavors. Orange blossom, candied apricot, and orange zest seem to be typical for this site, and may be traceable to the high incidence of individual vines whose tiny shot berries taste Muscat-like, a phenomenon familiar in California from the traditional Wente selection of Chardonnay. Luscious pineapple, tinged with toasted hazelnut and fruit pit bitterness further inform this wine’s creamy yet vivaciously citric and almost delicate palate, and the reprise of orange blossom along with liquid honeysuckle perfume reinforces the impression of lift in a long finish. I would have no fear of holding this for more than half a dozen years. 91
The Essas' 2007 Meursault Cras – representing five barrels of fruit from old vines first repatriated from a negociant in the 2006 vintage – smells of candied lime zest, linden flower, mint, and salt spray; unites richness of texture with buoyancy in the manner illustrated by his Tesson; and finishes with peaches, liquid herbal and floral high-tones, and persistently saline, chalky notes. That mineral dimension – along with the wine’s overall cool, understated manner – seems to reflect its Corton-Charlemagne-like white chalk and (south-facing) high elevation, along the Monthelie and Volnay communal lines. This will doubtless strike some tasters as too restrained for its own good, while others (including this one) will point to refinement, refreshment, and subtlety that ideally suit it to savoring leisurely and with a wide range of cuisine. I am confident it will reward those with patience in pulling corks, too, and probably perform well for 8-10 years. 91
The Buisson-Charles 2007 Meursault Charmes smells oily, fusil, and chalky in the way locals describe the odor engendered by breaking rocks. Toasted, malted grain, hazelnut, and white peach add familiar themes on a palate of mouth-coating richness and subtle but alluring creaminess, without sacrificing the estate’s trademark clarity to flavor nuances, and preservation of refreshment that leave me salivating uncontrollably. Hints of resin and spice from barrel are well-integrated and wood does not detract from this wine’s salient features: textural finesse, nuance, and refreshment. (It represents nearly 50 year old vines that touch Genevrieres, and if Michel Buisson were to have had his way, he volunteers, only one rather than two of the five barrels would have been new!) Expect this to perform well for a decade or more. 92
Production of Buisson-Charles 2007 Meursault Gouttes d’Or represents (at six barrels) twice that of previous years. Peach; winter pear; pungent, buckwheat-like milled grain; citrus oils; and briny, alkaline notes mark the nose. A vibratory interchange of mineral, fruit, and nut and grain notes on the bright yet creamily-textured palate leads to a long, savory, saline, chalky, subtly cyanic finish that preserves an abundance of energy. This is a classic example of the house style here at its best, with a caressing textural sense paradoxically allied to an invigorating dynamic, and with enveloping creaminess not precluding refreshment. Count on it for at least a dozen years of intriguing pleasure. 93
The Buisson-Charles 2007 Meursault Les Bouches-Cheres – whose seven barrels represent nearly a doubling of production – displays honeyed richness to accompany its creaminess of texture. Lightly toasted wheat, hazelnut and almond; fresh peach; and elusive floral essences and mineral shadings combine for a ravishing aromatic display, caressing palate, and refined, nuanced, and hauntingly long finish. This plays more to the soothing, seductive side of Meursault, and less in the direction of dynamics one finds in the Gouttes d’Or. I expect it, too, to be well worth following for a dozen or more years. 93