The Burgundies of Laurent and Hélène Martelet are now in the pantheon of the great whites of the Côte d’Or, a fact that is pretty widely recognized in the wine world today. Their years of quiet toil in the Hameau de Blagny, high on the slope below the forest, kept their heads in the clouds and their feet firmly rooted among their vines. They found little need to look down jealously at their neighbors, who now look up to them respectfully. This great cru sits above La Truffière, and delivers a full-throttle Puligny experience. Rich, layered, and racy, it is flamboyantly noble Chardonnay.
The lost hamlet of Blagny, up in the hills between Puligny-Montrachet and Meursault in the Côte d’Or in Burgundy, is home to Comtesse de Chérisey. This almost magical, lost-in-time corner of the world boasts a unique microclimate, with a slightly different average temperature, exposition and soil than the rest of Burgundy. In our humble opinion, our friend and vigneron, Laurent Martelet, creates the most haunting masterpieces that emerge from this terroir. All of the de Chérisey vines are premier cru, are at least 60 years old, and they encircle their ancient cellar in the Hameau de Blagny.
In eastern central France, Burgundy is nestled between the wine regions of Champagne to the north, the Jura to the east, the Loire to the west, and the Rhône to the south. This is the terroir par excellence for producing world-class Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
The southeast-facing hillside between Dijon in the north and Maranges in the south is known as the Côte d’Or or “golden slope.” The Côte d’Or comprises two main sections, both composed of limestone and clay soils: the Côte de Nuits in the northern sector, and the Côte de Beaune in the south. Both areas produce magnificent whites and reds, although the Côte de Beaune produces more white wine and the Côte de Nuits more red.
Chablis is Burgundy’s northern outpost, known for its flinty and age-worthy Chardonnays planted in Kimmeridgian limestone on an ancient seabed. Vézelay is a smaller area south of Chablis with similar qualities, although the limestone there is not Kimmeridgian.
To the south of the Côte de Beaune, the Côte Chalonnaise extends from Chagny on its northern end, down past Chalon-sur-Saône and encompasses the appellations of Bouzeron in the north, followed by Rully, Mercurey, Givry, and Montagny.
Directly south of the Chalonnaise begins the Côte Mâconnais, which extends south past Mâcon to the hamlets of Fuissé, Vinzelles, Chaintré, and Saint-Véran. The Mâconnais is prime Chardonnay country and contains an incredible diversity of soils.
I want you to realize once and for all: Even the winemaker does not know what aging is going to do to a new vintage; Robert Parker does not know; I do not know. We all make educated (hopefully) guesses about what the future will bring, but guesses they are. And one of the pleasures of a wine cellar is the opportunity it provides for you to witness the evolution of your various selections. Living wines have ups and downs just as people do, periods of glory and dog days, too. If wine did not remind me of real life, I would not care about it so much.
Inspiring Thirst, page 171
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