I tasted with the amiable Patrick Essa. There was a dark storm while we tasted. The heavens
opened and the rain came down, followed by hail. Everyone was looking anxious and then the
news came that Pellans had been slightly hit by hail. Patrick, in fighting spirit, soldiered on with
the tasting and we even went to the cellar after and tasted a wonderfully fresh 1988 Tessons. I
only hope he was not drowning his sorrow with it afterwards. The rain continued to beat down
that evening. His father-in-law Michel Buisson, now 76, would pass by occasionally and taste
something with us without really giving anything away. Patrick has been running the domaine
with his wife Catherine for the past twelve years, but has, in true Burgundy fashion only had
complete control for the past three.
They have six hectares. One third of which in red in Volnay and Pommard. There are 4 hectares
of whites, only in Meursault. 2.5 village vines and 1.5 premier cru. Patrick who was a PE teacher
married into a wine family, but soon became hooked by his father-in-law.
“It is a classic vintage with good production and maturity,” said Patrick. The alcohol is 12 to 12.7.
“Probably just before the harvest I thought it was not a great vintage as we had many difficulties
of maturity and the weather was poor, but during the harvest there was good sun and day after
day we have harvested good quality grapes. All along the elevage I find the wine has more
complexity and intensity. I am very satisfied with the vintage; not a great vintage but with good
fruit and aroma and some good density in the wines. After 2009 and 2010 we have a more
classic vintage like 1999 for good acidity and balance. When I taste in barrel I like them.”
Three new wines (negoce) have been added to the portfolio. One village Meursault ‘Les Grand
Couture’ and two Chassagne, En Remilly and La Romanée. “I work with a small estate in
Chassagne. It is interesting to vinify a Chassagne-Montrachet for my customers – 1000 bottles of
Harvested from 3rd - 8th September. “It was mature, but less than 13%. It is interesting
less alcohol but more sweetness, elegance and finesses and I prefer this style. I prefer wines
with more tension and not too much expression. Here in Meursault we
have naturally much
glycerol in the wine and it is important to conserve the delicate expression. In 2011 there was no
botrytis, so we did not have to de-select it.”
“Lower alcohol is good for drinkability…good acidity, tartaric 3 to 3.8 and malic also good…not as
much as 2010…acidity not a problem in 2011. There is a good balance of acidity and alcohol and
if you then consider the natural concentration of lower yields the balance is good. (Yields were 42
for village and premier cru and 52 for the Aligote). There were equal quantities of malic and
tartaric. If you have too much tartaric you can have too rough a wine, but this is not a problem
“I need no sugar, no yeast and no enzymes. The wines a normal alcoholic fermentation and in
December 1/3 of the wine did MLF and the rest started in March. I don’t like to bâtonage, but if I
have to I will do some to finish the MLF.” pHs between 3.10 and 3.22 after the MLF.
“During deboubage I selected many lees. I prefer to have wine with high percentage of lees – 5
liters per barrel - for the concentration the aroma and the expression of soil…and also you need
less SO2 afterwards.” He always uses a lot of lees whatever the vintage, but as he says is careful
in selection – “no black or green lees…just fine lees. When you have no botrytis you can select
finer lees, which is why I always get rid of the botrytis…it is not possible to select the harvest for
the red and not the white – I do not understand that logic, so I do it.”
He will probably bottle in December “as for my cellar it is a good date. It is a good cycle given we
have a fresh cellar and it is not too cold by December, but for 2011 we have harvested 1 month
early so we may bottle end of November. I have no systematic process. 12 months in barrel and
then 2-3 months in the stainless steel. When you have a good number of barrels it is better to
make the blend for longer. You need the harmony which comes from bringing them together for
about 4 months. In stainless steel the SO2 level easier to adjust. For So2 I like 80 to 100 total
and 30-35 free – but no more. CO2 is very important too. I supervise the level of CO2 and bottle
at 700-800mg/l – imperceptible.”
A very good flight of wines. Pristine. Intense fruit, ringing freshness and lovely clarity.
*Bourgogne Aligoté 2011:
Stony vineyard below the main road in Meursault with
clay soils. 70 year old vines. Only in steel
no oak. Volume of 10 pièces. Appley, zesty and pure.
Estery, leesy aroma. Very fresh and lively
on the palate with plenty of fizzling citrus fruit. A lovely Aligote with good
Bourgogne Aligoté 2010:
Appetizing aroma with hints of aniseed, herbs and mint. Sweetly rounded with a note of butter
mint on the palate and very fresh. Just a delicious Aligote
Bourgogne Blanc 2011
One half in barrel and half in stainless steel – this year he was not sure what to do 25 year
vines in ‘les grandes coutures.’ He has replanted part of it which was in pinot noir at a high
density of 17,000 vines per hectare. Good clay and stony soil and the higher bit is fresher and
more interesting. 8 to 10 bunches for each vine. Some engaging appley, lemon fruit. Ripe and
nicely rounded with decent concentration, quite steely with some minerality and fresh acidity…it
is focused on the finish. Jolly good. Top notch.
No new oak in the Bourgogne but what follows has 25% which is represented in the
*Meursault, Vieilles Vignes 2011
6 different vineyards. Each year Patrick doesn’t use all of it. 5 barrels are dismissed. 1 hectare
in Pellans, so the major part of a total of 2.5 hectares. Patrick uses 2 different coopers and
forests: Damy Voges and Ermitage Troncais. Old vines at 45 to 100 years. This is straight and
pure on the palate. Ripe fruit with some penetrating acidity. There is some delicious ripe fruit in
the middle, but a very keen tight, crisp finish. A very energetic village Meursault. Very good+.
Meursault, Vieilles Vignes 2010
Rich butter mint aroma. Sumptuous, but firm attack. Full and ripe with really sweet intensity
fruit. There is good weight; that extra bit of plumpness, but with elegant fruit and plenty of pace.
It finshes on a note of glossy minerality. Score 16. From 2014
*Meursault, Les Tessons 2011
1/3 of a hectare in the southern part of the climat, easterly exposure, full hill side, “rockier
with red soil,” says Patrick. The vines are 50 years old on average. 8 barrels in the vintage.
Enticing aroma and with slight spice and hints of pain epice. Juicy on the attack. Good firm core
to the palate, finely honed and channeled. This has excellent energy, neatly clipped edges and a
pure and long finish. Lovely intensity. Glimmers with smooth, supple minerality. Wine of lovely
clarity. Top notch lieu dit. Particularly good. From 2016
*Chassagne-Montrachet, En Remilly 2011
2 barrels which are one year old oak. Patrick buys the grapes. Succulent and vibrant aroma.
juicy attack, glistening minerality and lively with acidity. This has a high spine and top note and
powdery, chalky mineral finish. Lovely savory minerals to the end. Fine+ From 2016/17
Chassagne-Montrachet, La Romanée 2011
Orange blossom and citrus notes on the nose. Lovely high note, very streamlined and pure.
satin, rich ribbon of fruit carries this elegant palate. Pure, intense sweetness on the finish. Fine.
*Meursault, Les Cras 2011
1/3 hectare in front of their Volnay Santenots. Richer aroma. Ripe pear, orange and some
“I compare this with Chablis Blanchots,” says Patrick. “We have stony white soil. A singular
vineyard with character.” This is rather more rich and glossy. Rounded, quite burly and full with
some weight, but it has the keen acidity typical of this domaine, which cuts like a knife. It
finishes on a sappy chalky mineral note. An unusual wine, quite masculine and with some grip.
Particualrly good towards fine. From 2016
*Meursault, Charmes 2011
Dessus part, just under Perrières with 45 year old vines. Very pure and softly mineral
Smooth and sleek with burnished mineral woven into the fruit; elegant and so smooth. This purrs
across the palate, threaded with bright acidity. Very refined. Svelte and seductive, lovely acidity
and persistence. Fine. From 2016/17
Meursault, Charmes 2010
Bottled in January. Juicy and full on the nose. Sleek golden fruit very intense. Firm
through, keen and energetic. Very bright on the finish. Woven and mineral. Shimmers with soft
minerality on the finish. Score 18.5
Meursault, La Goutte d’Or 2011
1/3 hectare. 7 barrels. Patrick feels that year by year it achieves a grand cru level.
“It is a wine
with great character, small and less well known.” He feels this has a powerful, spicy and
expression and concentration. “Probably one of the wines in Burgundy with the best ageing
potential.” He has wines from the 47, 54 etc.
Very dense aroma. This is rich and concentrated, full, powerful and dense. A burly muscular wine
with good layering and intensity. The acidity comes through like a blade. It is very compact and
shows honed muscularity. Battened down. Fine, maybe fine+. From 2017 and Patrick says for 25
Meursault, Les Bouchères
Here the vines are 70 years old. It is a specialty of the domaine. He sees this as the
meursault. Floral aroma, scented with white flowers. A delicate and fragrant aroma. Light and lacy and
elegant on the palate. It is a more open textured wine, juicy and elegance. It is more subtle.
There is a delicacy. It has volume but no heaviness. This is exactly what I expect from this terroir
and it is a very good Bouchères. Fine. From 2016
Meursault, Les Bouchères 2010
This has crystallized fruit aroma. Succulent attack and a juicy palate. Crystallized fruit and
More obviously fruit diven versus the 2011, which is more floral. Much airier than the Goutte d’Or
but not fragile, some good intensty and focus and shows delicious acidity. Good energy to
finish. Score 18. from 2015/16
Vibrant red cherry fruit and violets. Juicy and energetic. Good firm tannins. This has
50% stems, remontage and pigeage. Old vineyards in upper part, just in front of Volnay
of course he would like some from Santenots du milieu, as the middle is best, but if a
choice he would rather be up than down. However he wants to make a finer wine to be on a par
with his whites…This is bright and juicy, lightish bodied with vibrant red fruit, some firm, but fine
enough tannins, it’s rather mineral and very energetic.Crisp and floral on the