Finding myself in one of the most prestigious wine regions of the world (renowned for producing the world’s most expensive dry white wines), I had to figure out how to do some tasting! Thankfully, I met some friends who had a car, so we were off to Château Meursault in the famous Côte de Beaune, which is the southern portion of Côte d’Or.
Château Meursault is a grand house whose cellars date back to the 12th century (although they didn’t start producing wine until the 14th/15th Centuries). Growing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay (and a bit of Aligote), their 60 hectares stretch from Puligny-Montrachet up to Aloxe-Corton and include 2 Grand Crus and 15 Premier Crus. In a good year they produce 200,000 bottles, and there are 600,000 bottles currently aging in their expansive network of cellars.
Each wine is bottle aged a minimum of two years, however, most are aged well beyond that. We passed stacks of wine that had been left untouched for decades. Thick layers of dust lay undisturbed on the dark glass bottles. I even came across a small alcove with bottles from my birth year!
While capturing decent pictures in the dark, stone cellars was difficult on my phone, I won’t forget how charged I felt as I slowly trod the winding corridors – immersing myself in history, imagining the people who had lived here and walked these very halls hundreds of years before me. They, too, had a deep appreciation for wine; it is because of them that wine has survived through the ages, being passed down from century to century, generation to generation. Those are always awe-inspiring thoughts.
As you can imagine, producing such a quantity of wine every year must mean they have a substantial quantity of barrels. Well, you’re not wrong. Their barrel room dates back to the 15th century and is 500 square meters, so, quite a substantial area. They have 500 French Oak barrels, and every year buy 1/3 new at a cost of €500-600/barrel. After being in use for 3 years, they resell the barrels for €80. Depending on the wine, it is aged 12-18 months in either new or used oak and then blended. 1 barrel = 300 bottles (standard size – however, they do utilize Magnum, Jeroboam, and Mathusalem sizes. For some fascinating explanations of naming sizes, click here and here.).
I opted for their Vins De La Dégustation Grands Terroirs which included the tour and 9 tastings (5 red, 4 white) for €27. I did think it was a shame they didn’t offer a tour only option, as several in my party didn’t drink alcohol but still wanted to see the cellars – so keep that in mind when you visit. The tour guide was knowledgable and enthusiastic and provided terrific bilingual commentary. There were also infographic charts throughout the tour I found most fascinating – particularly the ones detailing every vineyard and varietal growing variation.
As I tasted 9 wines, I won’t delve into tasting notes this time. But enjoy this artsy picture of me analyzing 😉
If you’re looking to pick up a particularly recent, good year from Château Meursault, cast your eye towards ’09, ’10, and ’15 (according to the guide – we didn’t taste from those years. I quite enjoyed several from 2014 and one 2013.). 2016 was a tough year for them as they lost half their fruit due to hail and bad weather. Yikes! Keep in mind they only export 10% of their product and sell directly to wine shops and restaurants – you won’t be finding any of their labels in your local super!
Visiting Château Meursault was a terrific chance to taste some quality wine and continue my wine education. If you’re in Côte de Beaune, do be sure to swing on by!