Arnaud Mortet Mazoyeres-Chambertin Grand Cru 2017
Arnaud Mortet’s rise is one filled with tragedy and triumphs, leading to his current position as one of the unquestioned superstars in all of Burgundy. Arnaud’s late father, Denis Mortet, was an iconic figure who started his career working with his father at Domaine Charles Mortet, eventually taking over winemaking in the mid-1980s. It was around this time he was first introduced to Henri Jayer, leading the two to develop a lifelong friendship and mentorship. In 1991, Charles Mortet retired and split his holdings between his two sons. Denis took his vineyard inheritance and started his namesake domaine with 4.5 ha in Gevrey-Chambertin, and quickly became renowned by both wine lovers and his Burgundian peers for impeccable farming and seductively textured wines. Arnaud worked with his father from 1999-2006, until Denis’ untimely passing. Once in charge, the reputation for elite farming that the Mortet name was known for was taken to an even higher level. Arnaud deftly evolved the style of the wines, significantly reducing new wood, lessening the level of extraction, and fine-tuning his vinification to a point where they are now more elegant and chiseled than in the past. Even so, he is never satisfied and continues to improve his work in the vineyards and cellar. For certain wines, he even employs the incredibly labor-intensive practice of cutting out the main stem of the grape clusters for the whole cluster fermentations. All these improvements have taken his wines to new heights, while maintaining the tremendous grain and sensual quality that makes Mortet one of the ongoing leaders of the Jayer school.
In 2016, Arnaud was fortunate to take on the opportunity to work with the entire holdings of a single domaine in Gevrey-Chambertin, where the owner was retiring. He and his sister Clémence manage, farm and vinify these plots using the exact same team and winery as that of Domaine Denis Mortet. Nothing separates these wines from those under the Denis Mortet label, beyond the legal need to change the name to simply “Arnaud Mortet” for wines made from these new parcels. This exciting new “domaine in all but name” allows Arnaud to create more benchmark wines, with remarkable definition and texture, from a wider array of Gevrey’s finest terroirs.
This small village is home to the Grands Crus in the farthest northerly stretches of Côte de Nuits and is famous for some of the deepest and firmest Burgundian Pinot Noir.
Gevrey boasts nine Grands Crus, the best of which are arguably Le Chambertin and Chambertin-Clos de Bèze. As with all of the fragmented vineyards of Burgundy, it isn’t easy to differentiate between the two, which are situated adjacent with Clos de Bèze slightly further up the hill than Le Chambertin. Clos de Bèze has a shallower soil and if you’re really counting, may produce wines less intense but more likely to charm. Some compare Le Chambertin in both power and plentitude only to the prized Romanée-Conti Grand Cru farther south in Vosne-Romanée.
Two other Grands Crus vineyards, Mazis-Chambertin (also written Mazy-) and Latricières-Chambertin command almost as much regard as Le Chambertin and Chambertin-Clos de Bèze. The upper part of Mazy, called Les Mazis Haut is the best and Latricières-Chambertin offers an abundance of juicy fruit and a silky texture in the warmer vintages.
Other Grands Crus are Ruchottes-Chambertin, Charmes-Chambertin, Mazoyères-Chambertin, Griotte-Chambertin and Chapelle-Chambertin.
The most respected Pinot Noir wines from Gevrey-Chambertin are robust and powerful but at the same time, velvety and expressive: black fruit, black liquorice and chocolate come into play. After some time in the bottle, the wines are harmonious with bright and sometimes candied fruit, and aromas of musk, truffle and forest floor. These have staying power.
Thin-skinned, finicky and temperamental, Pinot Noir is also one of the most rewarding grapes to grow and remains a labor of love for some of the greatest vignerons in Burgundy. Fairly adaptable but highly reflective of the environment in which it is grown, Pinot Noir prefers a cool climate and requires low yields to achieve high quality. Outside of France, outstanding examples come from in Oregon, California and throughout specific locations in wine-producing world. Somm Secret—André Tchelistcheff, California’s most influential post-Prohibition winemaker decidedly stayed away from the grape, claiming “God made Cabernet. The Devil made Pinot Noir.”