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Meo-Camuzet Vosne Romanee Premier Cru Les Chaumes 2009
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Jean-Nicolas Meo began harvesting on September 12. He did 17-18 days of cuvaison and did one racking before the wines were prepared for bottling. I was not able to taste a handful of wines that were racked just before my visit, including the Cros Parantoux. Meo is among the growers who believe the 2009s will age well on their depth of fruit.
Founder Étienne Camuzet was not only a passionate vigneron, but a full-time politician, and spent most of his time in Paris, representing the Côte d’Or. In order to keep his land in use, he offered it to capable share-croppers to farm. By the time his daughter had inherited the estate, she found herself with no successors, so the estate was passed down to her closest relative, Jean Méo. Jean was also deeply involved in national politics—he served as a member of Charles DeGaulle’s cabinet. Consequently, he, too, had to direct the domaine from afar. In the early 1980s, as many of the métayeurs were starting to retire, it became clear that the domaine needed a new direction. Jean’s son, Jean-Nicolas had also spent most of his life in Paris. By 1985, it was his turn to take the helm. In lieu of continuing to rent out their highly-pedigreed vineyards, he made the bold decision to slowly start reclaiming the land for the domaine’s own bottlings. He called upon the resident expert, one of Burgundy’s greatest winemakers of all time, Henri Jayer, for guidance. Henri had spent over forty years farming parcels from Méo-Camuzet under his own label, while enjoying celebrity status in the Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant portfolio. For three years, he mentored Jean-Nicolas during the transition and finally decided to retire in 1988. Though Jayer passed away in 2006, his legacy endures to this day.
This is the village for the most die-hard Burgundy fanatics. Vosne-Romanée has for many hundreds of years been the source of the most sought-after Pinot noir in Burgundy. The village claims six Grands Crus—and some of the most famous at that—but in other villages where owners manage tiny parcels or a few rows of any one vineyard, monopolies dominate the Grands Crus of Vosne-Romanee.
Of these monopolies, Domaine Romanee-Conti (DRC) reigns supreme, claiming not only more total vineyard area than any other producer, but outright owning the entirety of two of the Grands Crus and a majority of two others. In its full possession are naturally Romanée-Conti, as well as La Tâche. DRC also owns most of Richebourg and Romanée-St-Vivant. The final two, La Grande Rue and La Romanée are completely owned by other other produers: François Lamarche and Comte Liger Belair, respectively.
While one could spend a lifetime on the puzzles of land ownership in Burgundy, the point is that Vosne-Romanee contains the most valuable pieces of vineyard real estate in the world. Pinot noir from any of its vineyards—especially from within its 27ha of Grand Cru or 58 ha of Premier Cru land—is going to rank among the best.
The most outstanding wines from this village have everything: finesse and elegance coupled with the body and sturdiness for incredibly long aging ability. They are intensely floral and exotically spiced. Beautifully ripe, complex and ephemeral throughout, they are robust, yet fine-grained in texture. These wines will stay gorgeous for the long haul.
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. 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 Villages or Cru level wines.