TWO OF BURGUNDY’S BEST HAVE JOINED WISDOM
BY MATTHEW BROWMAN
What if Toni Morrison and Harper Lee wrote a book together? Or Sugar Ray Leonard and Muhammed Ali opened a boxing school?
There are few names you can mention in any field that everyone with even a little exposure will recognize. Yet at Chateau des Quarts, two of Burgundy’s best have joined wisdom.
In the world of Burgundy wine, Dominique Lafon is among the undisputed top two in heavyweight white wines from vineyards in Meursault and Montrachet. Indeed, these are considered the greatest Chardonnay vineyards in the world (along with Corton-Charlemagne). Meanwhile, Olivier Merlin has earned equal repute as a wizard further south in the Mâconnais. This large vineyard area is known for softer wines than Dominique’s to the north.
The best vineyard for the best winemakers
The jewel in the Mâconnais crown, and what could almost be a stylistic cross-over between the two weight categories, is the subzone of Pouilly-Fuissé. For years, Olivier sought the perfect plot to make the greatest expression of this area. He’d had access to a parcel of grapes from the Clos des Quarts, a walled-in, gently sloping, east-facing single-vineyard on clay-limestone soil in the south of the subzone. When the entire vineyard with its 100-year-old vines came up for sale, he immediately thought of his great friend. Together, these two of Burgundy’s best joined wisdom.
Together, these two of Burgundy’s best joined wisdom and secured the clos, and Chateau des Quarts was born. Olivier manages the vineyards and the two make the wine together at Olivier’s winery in the Mâcon.
A natural, non-interventionist approach
Both approach the work from an entirely hands-on, of-the-earth angle. Dominique has committed to biodynamics for all of his Cote d’Or vineyards. At the Clos, Olivier works with no chemical fertilizers or pesticides, uses minimal intervention in the winemaking, harvests by hand and ploughs with a horse.
Read about Lafon’s biodynamic, genius counterpart in the Loire Valley.
If tasting the essence of white Burgundy is in any way appealing, this is your stop. In most years, they make just one wine from the site, using the older and middle-aged vines for outrageous concentration and finesse. For the 2017 vintage, they bottled the 100-year-old vines separately in magnums to celebrate the 100-year life. It didn’t seem to impact the quality at all, however:
Pouilly-Fuissé 2017 Clos des Quarts
This earned 93 points on vinous.com, their second-highest rating since their first vintage.
“It has a very classy bouquet, one that is beautifully defined with orange pith, apricot, lime flower and jasmine aromas that all gain intensity with aeration. The quality terroir comes through, even without those old vines. The palate is fresh and citrus-driven on the entry, bright and vivid with notes of orange rind, pine kernels, hints of mango and spice. This feels very harmonious and focused, demonstrating impressive depth on the flinty finish.”
Neal Martin, vinous.com
Burgundy, Chardonnay, Chateau des Quarts, Clos des Quarts, Corton-Charlemagne, Dominque Lafon, France, Mâconnais, Meursault, Montrachet, Olivier Merlin, Pouilly-Fuissé