Domaine Buisson-Charles, Meursault
I met with Patrick Essa who makes the wine these days. Michel, his father-in-law, who ran the domaine for so many years clearly still plays an active part in the process. He moved though the cuverie as we tasted reporting on what was happening in the vineyard and offering his opinion of the wines.
“A singular vintage with some reminiscence of 2005 for the whites. Great concentration and acidity,” comments Patrick.
“It was not an easy vintage,” he continues. “We had a problem with hail and maladies - oidium and some problems with flowering. We produced a half harvest. But I prefer a half harvest with quality than too much of lesser quality.” They harvested here between the 23rd and the 29th September which was before rain for part of the production and then after the rain (on the 25th and 26th ) September for the rest. It was a small production just 25hl/ha because of the hail at the end of June.
The analysis: Good tartaric acid for all the wines 3-3.5 and at malic 2.5-3; so a good balance. pH between 3.15 and 3.22. Degrees of alcohol at 12.5 for Aligote and 13.5 for the cru. No sugar added or yeast and no enzymes. “It was a clean harvest.” Patrick and Michel harvested late and Patrick selected out the botrytis.
The wines were slow to ferment. 3 months for alcoholic and 3-5 months for the MLF. “Slow as we have high acidity…5.7 to 6 total TA in juice. I prefer slow fermentation but with no stopping.” After MLF 3.30 and 3.4…reds 3.55 “Good acidity but not hard. Reduction was not a problem this year. Good concentration.”
After pressing the juice usually has 24 hours of sedimentation, but in 2012 they waited 48 hours.In 2012 they used plenty of lees, fine lees. Patrick filters the big lees to get turbidity between 100-150 “which is a good level before the elevage, but fine lees only. I have to balance things as I want no reduction but I want lots of lees. After I pump my juice into the barrel and mix the lees.” In 2012 he used just a little bâtonage for two cuvée….to help the yeast. “I think bâtonage is better the second winter not the first when you have movement any way. After racking we use bâtonage for the autolysis of the yeast, but cuvee by cuvee. It is not systematic.”
“I compare 2012 with 2005.” He also compares them with 2010s. “It is possibly a great vintage although it is difficult to say now. Great concentration, purity and acidity and in some premier cru, it is the best vintage I have vinify. The problem is small production.”
“I conserve middle price with no augmentation in 2012 as clients are not responsible with the weather. I prefer to sell the wine at a good price as I want to make wines for drinking not speculation.”
Patrick would like to see at least 5 years ageing for this vintage. As for wines in the cellar, more time for 2005 and so drink 2007s and 2011s. He has refined a few things to make them his wine a little easier to drink young than Michel’s wine, which needed quite a while to come round.
Stony vineyard below the main road in Meursault with clay soils. 70 year old vines. For the firstyear since Patrick made this wine, it is in wood. “I had not much production and I had emptyoak, but it is in one to three year old barrels.” He has a new plot, which he has planted with16,000 vines per hectare…there are 5-6 bunches on this higher density planting. “If I have 1m between the rows the workers can still work easily.” Appealing light lemony aroma with a rounded palate which is juicy and has a refreshing note of lime. It is fresh and bright on the finish. A light and accessible Aligote. Pleasant.
In 2011 half was in barrel and half in stainless steel, while in 2012 all is in barrel with 20% new oak. “I like this wine. It is a democratic wine,” says Patrick, who is keen to have an affordable wine in the portfolio. “I have younger clients.” It is a nice example of Bourgogne. Fresh and appley. Nice and breezy with the trademark purity of this domaine. It finishes very well for Bourgogne and makes an excellent introduction to the range. From late 2013/14
Meursault, Vieilles Vignes
6 different vineyards. The idea is to have a ‘round cuvée’ from the village. Some of the vines are very old, for example the 100 year old vines in Les Pellans. He has one hectare here (which is on the boarder with Puligny) which he considers gives it a bit more Puligny-like expression. No new oak in the sample, but there will be some on the final wine. Perfumed citrusy aroma. Notes of lemon balm. This is blossomy, lightly rounded and elegant. Quite well defined and nicely intense. The end of the palate is keen and mineral. “I like to produce wine which is more discreet to begin with and then after a few years becomes more expressive,” Patrick remarks. Good++. Score 15.25. From late 2014/2015
*Chassagne-Montrachet, En Remilly
Quite reserved aroma and attack. Streamlined and elegant. A straight and pure palate. Goodenergy and crisp, tight edges. Lithe wine. Particularly good. Score 17. From 2015/16
*Meursault, Les Tessons
Two different plots 45 and 60 ears old. “We consider this wine a premier cru. Red soil with stony mix.”Lovely texture, sleek and spicy, but not rich. It glides on the palate. It is supple and silky textured. The salinity comes though on the finish. Nicely balanced acidity. A puff of savoury chalk at the end. Particularly good. Score 17. from 2016
Meursault, Les Cras
18 hl/ha. Just two barrels, usually 5. This is more assertive on the aroma. Smokey note. Full bodied and generous. It certainly has a rounded, full and broad palate with ripe lemon fruit. Somewhat more robust. There is savoury mineral bite on the finish. It does not have the elegance of the Tessons, but has a forthright honesty. Score 17. from 2016/17
Upper part, just under Perrières. Lightish and elegant. Quite racy. Pure and threaded with plenty of minerality. It’s a lighter Charmes, (a little light on substance maybe) and not as glossy, intense and textural as one might expect. Particularly good+. 17.25 From 2016
*Meursault, Les Gouttes d’Or
There is a richness and density to the aroma. This is powerful and full. Plenty of intensity. There is marked depth to the palate. Long and powerful on the finish for Gouttes d’Or. It is certainly very compact. Quite a level up. Fine. Score 18. From 2017
*Meursault, Les Bouchères
Spicy aroma with rather exotic floral notes. Very expressive and generous on the attack. It is golden, seductive and supple in the middle. The acidity is fresh and bright. What I like about it is the lively, lifted finish. No new oak. This is delicious. Fine. Score 18 From 2018
Patrick received this in juice. It comes from a friend in Chablis. Patrick was a teacher in Chablis and there seems to have been some sort of pact, that when he reached 50, his friend would release a barrel of this to mark the occasion. It was handed over after one day of sedimentation,and hence received in the barrel. Patrick will probably finish the elevage in steel and there is no new oak in this wine. Hand harvested. 12.5 degrees and no sugar. The friend has two parcels with some vines in the amphitheatre, while another part gives freshness.Intense and lifted aroma with white flowers. Ripe fruit at the front of the palate. (Worked with many lees in this.) There is certainly a richness while the acidity underpins the wine. It has breadth and elegance. The finish is fine and pure with florality and minerality on the finish. Fine+. Score 18.5. from 2018
The MLf has not finished for the red and nothing has sulphur.
“The whites are more technical to make, while the red it is more like cooking,” muses Patrick.
“You can interpret the vintage and be more sensual. The white is more difficult as you must have extreme precision.”
In 3 year old barrels. 22 hl/ha in 2 plots including Les Magny. 45-60 year old vines. He treats it like a village wine and selects the grapes in the vineyard. 30% whole grapes are used. “With whole cluster you have more sweetness.” Sweet, dark and concentrated; juicy and ripe. Soft tannins with a touch of liquorish and bite of dark chocolate and black cherry on the finish. What a good Bourgogne.
28 ares. On the slope with north east exposure. “Good soil, but a fresh climate, so we harvest it late after everything else. No whole cluster. It’s not a massale selection. It’s clone 114 and 115. We have little grapes, but the vines are 30 years old now.” He has clearly worked hard to get 6-8 bunches per vine (23 hl/ha in 2012) and remarks that any more production and the wine will taste more like an Hautes-Cotes de Beaue. He achieved 12.3 degrees and no added sugar. Fresh red nose with floral notes and a hint of violets. (He does not like any toast in the barrel).Appealing silky texture; it is charming for a Pommard and flows elegantly across the palate. It is pure and has plenty of ripe cherry characters. Good+. Score 15.75. From 2015
Only two barrels. 34 ares. 17 hl/ha. 60 year old vines. Massale selection. Floral aromas. Dark fruit with a straight line. It is not quite as seductive and intense as it might be and there is a slightly hard note at the moment, as well as the more attractive hint of asphalt. I’d like to try it again.
Savigny, premier cru
This is from the Hospice de Beaune “Cuvèe Arthur Girard.” Quite a ripe aroma. Very sweet with lots of concentration and soft, ripe tannins. It is certainly a crowd pleaser. As Patrick did not make this, it is not in the same style as the domaine wines, but is an expressive and generous and accessible wine. Particularly good. Score 17. From 2016
Meursault, Les Tessons
One parcel of Tessons in two different plantings. 35 ares. In the southern part of Tessons with red soils. “The elegance of Chevalières and the power of Goutte d’Or,” remarks Patrick. It was purchased in 1976 by Michel. The climat of Tessons totals 5 hectares and all 7 growers have vineyards exposed East. In the Southern part there is less influence from the wind. Patrick thinks there is more tension in the North, more of Chevalières character, while the Southern part produces more summery and fruity wine. But of course the date of harvest will affect this.
Meursault, Les Tessons 2011
Fragrant, breezy and discreet. There is a fresh water feel to the aroma. Juicy and citrus. It is delicate and refined on the palate. Lovely balance of acidity and fruit. Slight salinity on the finish. Long finish. 17.5. It is lovely now, quite accessible, but equally you could and perhaps should wait another 2 or 3 years.
*Meursault, Les Tessons 2010
This is richer on the aroma than the 2011. Riper, crystallized lemon fruit. Quite unctuous on the attack. Energetic, but with more richness to the fruit; more density. It powers home on the finish. It is certainly ripe and energetic and very expressive. No lack of acidity here either. I do like this. It is precise. 17.8. From 2017
Meursault, Les Tessons 2009
Riper still. Touch of nutty aroma coming though. I thought it might be a bit heavy in comparison, but its not. It’s ripe but elegant. While it is marked by the sunny vintage character, but the balance of acidity keeps it fresh. 17.7. Keep for another 3 or 4 years.
*Meursault, Les Tessons 2008
Patrick made this together with Michel. A long 22 months of elevage. This is showing some evolution in flavour, but really it needs time still. There is an intense, crystallized lemon character. He did not de-select the botrytis. Unctuous, powerful, straight and dense. Lots of acidity and intense fruit combine. Very straight. concentrated, but still really quite severe. Shows great potential for ageing further. Score 17.8
Meursault, Les Tessons 2007
Salty and breezy, more akin to the 2011. More ozone character. Light and elegant and pure. This races elegantly across the palate to a saline finish. Lovely. So pretty and drinking so well now. I do not see any benefit in keeping this. Score 17.25
Meursault, Les Tessons 2006
Ripe and toffee note. It is both fatter and flatter. On the upside it has generosity and nuttybiscuit characters. Honeyed and full. Drink now; slightly oxidative. So it is ready now. Score 16
Meursault, Les Tessons 2005
Wonderful aroma. It is Patrick’s favourite vintage since ’89. The palate is impressive, full and rich and biscuity. This is powerful on the finish. While it is clearly a very good wine, I prefer a little more restraint. It is positive baroque on the finish, but still very fresh and it certainly has plenty of energy. So 17.4 this needs more time maybe.
Meursault, Les Tessons 2001
This was harvested in October on the 2nd October. Patrick vinified this alone as his father-in-law was unwell. No new oak. Only barrels from 3, 4 and 5 years. 8 barrels so a good production. He finds the same expression as 2008 and here too there was a long, long fermentation and some reduction in barrel. The 2001 might have same acidity, as 2008 thinks Patrick… This has plenty of age now. Rich and biscuit, but uplifted. Delicious complexity with notes of coffee and grilled nuts Nicely defined acidity. Very fresh and bright with a pure note on the end of the palate. Score 17.45. Drink now.
Meursault, Les Tessons 2000
Smooth texture onto the palate; very rounded and generous, glossy and full. It’s a contented wine. Sunny and yet fresh on the finish. Patrick says it has always been like this. It will probably continue like this for 20 years. Score 17.5. Drink now but will probably continue like this for a while.
UK: Richards Walford. Robertson; Flint
USA: Scott Paul. Vintner Select.