Domaine Ponsot Morey Saint Denis Cuvee des Alouettes Premier Cru (1.5 Liter Magnum) 2001
William Ponsot established the Domaine in 1772 after the Prussian war. It was not until after the 19th century, however, that the Domaine began to take its present form under the influence of Jean-Marie’s uncle who had 7.4 acres of vineyards but no children. When his nephew, Jean-Marie’s father, took over in 1922, the inheritance had become only 2.47 acres. By the time Jean-Marie started working in 1949, land purchases had increased holdings to 14.8 acres. He added 6.4 acres in 1957, located in Morey, Gevrey and Chambolle.
While Morey-St Denis might not get the same attention as its neighbors, Gevrey-Chambertin to the north and Chambolle-Musigny to the south, there is no reason why it shouldn’t. The same line of limestone runs from the Combe de Lavaux in Gevrey—all the way through Morey—ending in Chambolle.
There are four grand cru vineyards, moving southwards from the border with Gevrey-Chambertin: Clos de la Roche, Clos St-Denis, Clos des Lambrays, Clos de Tart and a small segment of Bonnes-Mares overlapping from Chambolle. Clos de la Roche is probably the finest vineyard, giving wines of true depth, body, and sturdiness for the long haul than most other vineyards.
Pinot noir from Morey-St-Denis is known for its deep red cherry, blackcurrant and blueberry fruit. Aromas of spice, licorice and purple flowers are present in the wines’ youth, evolving to forest and game as the wine ages.
One of the most finicky yet rewarding grapes to grow, Pinot Noir is a labor of love for many. However, the greatest red wines of Burgundy prove that it is unquestionably worth the effort. In fact, it is the only red variety permitted in Burgundy. Highly reflective of its terroir, Pinot Noir prefers calcareous soils and a cool climate, requires low yields to achieve high quality and demands a lot of attention in the vineyard and winery. It retains even more glory as an important component of Champagne as well as on its own in France’s Loire Valley and Alsace regions. This sensational grape enjoys immense international success, most notably growing in Oregon, California and New Zealand with smaller amounts in Chile, Germany (as Spätburgunder) and Italy (as Pinot Nero).
In the Glass
Pinot Noir is all about red fruit—strawberry, raspberry and cherry with some heftier styles delving into the red or purple plum and in the other direction, red or orange citrus. It is relatively pale in color with soft tannins and a lively acidity. With age (of which the best examples can handle an astounding amount) it can develop hauntingly alluring characteristics of fresh earth, savory spice, dried fruit and truffles.
Pinot’s healthy acidity cuts through the oiliness of pink-fleshed fish like salmon and tuna but its mild mannered tannins give it enough structure to pair with all sorts of poultry: chicken, quail and especially duck. As the namesake wine of Boeuf Bourguignon, Pinot noir has proven it isn’t afraid of beef. California examples work splendidly well with barbecue and Pinot Noir is also vegetarian-friendly—most notably with any dish that features mushrooms.
For administrative purposes, the region of Beaujolais is often included in Burgundy. But it is extremely different in terms of topography, soil and climate, and the important red grape here is ultimately Gamay, not Pinot noir. Truth be told, there is a tiny amount of Gamay sprinkled around the outlying parts of Burgundy (mainly in Maconnais) but it isn’t allowed with any great significance and certainly not in any Village or Cru level wines. So "red Burgundy" still necessarily refers to Pinot noir.