Domaine Marchand Freres Morey Saint Denis 1er Cru 'Faconnieres' 2013
On well-drained gravelly soil just below Grand Cru Clos de la Roche and running the length of premier cru ‘Les Millandes’ just to the south, the premier cru ‘Faconnieres’ is one of the best-situated of the many great Morey-Saint-Denis premiers crus. Add to that 50 year old vines and vinification worthy of a Grand Cru, for a minuscule production of just 1300 bottles, and there you have Burgundy at its best.
DOMAINE MARCHAND FRERES
The Domaine Marchand Freres has been in existence since 1813 through seven generations, and for most of that time it was based in Morey-St. Denis. In 1983, however, the domain bought a winemaker’s house in the very center of Gevrey-Chambertin, ostensibly for the beautiful working cellars underneath. But Gevrey gradually became the seat of the business, and today Denis Marchand lives in the beautifully restored house and receives guests in the cellars below.
The domain has small parcels in some very important vineyards in Chambolle-Musigny, Morey-Saint-Denis and Gevrey-Chambertin, including premier cru ‘Les Sentiers’ in Chambolle, ‘Le Clos des Ormes’ in Morey and ‘Les Combottes’ in Gevrey. They also have holdings in Grand Cru Clos de la Roche, Griottes-Chambertin and Charmes Chambertin. But production is tiny, 1000 cases here, a few hundred there, mere dozens in the Grands Crus. Marchand Freres is the quintessential Burgundy domain: small production, high quality.
Burgundy 2013 was yet another small crop. The fourth in as many years. Some of it will be very good, in both red and white. But for some producers it was a disaster. As we always do, let’s start with a run-down of the weather conditions over the growing season (what the locals tellingly call ‘the campaign’).
Winter was wet and hung on stubbornly. March snow gave way to a few spring-like days, and everyone thought the worst was over. But no. April was cold and wet. May was the wettest on record. We posted photos of ducks swimming in the flooded vineyards. And winter gloom and temperatures persisted.
June was better, but just. Flowering started in the early part of the month, but with the cool wet conditions it was erratic and irregular. Lots of coulure and millerandange as a result. These aborted grapes would be one of the reasons for a small 2013 yield, and would come in to play in the final outcome at harvest.
Summer arrived late in the month. But even the warm temperatures and relatively fine weather did little to dispel the feeling of instability. There was nothing consistent to make you feel like you could just settle in to grape growing.
Then in the third week of July, high pressure and high humidity built up to a series of storms, the most violent of which tore out of the Savigny valley on the 23rd. Like a military gunship, the hail storm swept across the Savigny vines, hit Pernand on the west side of the Corton Mountain and headed south across Beaune, Pommard and Volnay. Producers tell us it lasted almost half an hour. It was the second year running that Pommard and Volnay were ravaged.
The humidity continued into August, and producers up and down the Cote nervously watched the sky. The big fear now was that damaged grapes would rot of mildew and odium, so preventive spraying intensified. If there was a bright spot in the growing season, it was the dry spell in mid-August. The damaged grapes shriveled and dropped off the vine, making the inevitable sorting at harvest more manageable.
Yields were tiny, even in the areas not ripped by hail. But the quality of the fruit was good going into September in the Cotes de Nuits and the white wine production south of Beaune, as well as in the Chalonnaise, Maconnais and Chablis.
Most of the harvest came in in the first weeks of October, the latest Burgundy vintages since 1991 and 1978. Maturity arrived at the end. Slowly at first, just like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay like it to be. But that slow maturity turned into a gallop, especially for the whites. From Macon to Chablis, the quality of 2013 whites comes down to crucial decisions about when to pick in the final few days.
Two months prior to harvest, the mood was gloomy. And granted, those poor producers who got slammed in July will suffer for years. (Some say that another small crop in 2014 could force some out of business.) But there is quality in many cellars. The reds will be highly variable, but the best wines (from domains that sorted the harvest carefully as it came to the cuverie) are fresh, deeply colored and beautifully ripe, with balance that seems apt for long aging. As always, you have to know who made the wine. There is more consistent quality in the whites across the board. Some say an excellent exciting year.
COTE DE NUITS
Rich in premiers crus and with 5 grands crus, the village should be a household name like its neighbors Gevrey-Chambertin and Chambolle-Musigny. In fact, Morey forms a bridge between these two appellations and shares some climat names. The grands crus form a contiguous band from north to south through the village. Yet despite the fact that Morey produces some of the most consistently excellent wines in Burgundy, fame eludes it outside of the circle of aficionados. This often means that these wines, especially the village and premier cru appellations, can be great value.
The appellation Morey-Saint Denis includes 20 premiers crus and 5 grands crus
Producing commune: Morey-Saint Denis.
Most of Morey-Saint Denis planted with Pinot Noir, although a few parcels of Chardonnay or Pinot Blanc produce a rare curious white, generally said to be firm and opulent. But Morey is known for its reds, bright ruby or intense garnet, depending on the year. The fruit is black: blackberry and blackcurrant with trademark black cherry fruit and pit. When older it is classic Burgundy Pinot, with animal notes, undergrowth, leather and truffle. Structure and balance are qualities found in all great wine, and Morey is a paradigm. Body, fruit, volume and length are part of the package that Morey climats offer to careful winemakers. The potential for greatness is part of the mystic of the appellation.
The vines grow on limestone and clay-limestone soils dating from the middle jurassic with white bathonien oolite higher on the slopes and fossiliferous bajocien limestone at the foot. The vineyards are east-facing at altitudes of 220-270 meters. Immediately below the village the slopes are differently oriented and the soil has more marl.
Almost all reds - Pinot Noir
White wines - Chardonnay
Production surface area
1 hectare (ha) = 2.4 acres
Reds : 93.03 ha (including 41.92 ha premier cru)
Whites : 3.37 ha (including 0.74 ha premier cru)
The un-PC locals call the reds of Morey-Saint Denis 'masculine', as they are classic examples of full and powerful Cotes de Nuits. So dishes should also be strong and powerful to challenge the tannins and structure of the wine. Often game birds like pheasant are mentioned, as are roasted beef or veal.
On the label, the appellations 'Morey-Saint Denis' and 'Morey-Saint Denis' may be followed by the name of a specific vineyard, known as a climat.
The names of the grands crus are the climats themselves:
Clos de Tart
Clos de la Roche
Clos des Lambrays
The following climats are classified as premier cru:
Clos des Ormes
The following climats are village wines from a single vineyard, known as a lieu-dit:
Clos des Ormes
En la Rue de Vergy
Les Champs de la Vigne
Rue de Vergy