If you’re someone who gets excited over Domaine Dujac, you ought to be paying close attention to Bernard Moreau. The wines are pure and complex, traditional and innovative, delivering perennial examples of the purest, most expressive, and overall highest quality in the appellation. To the family, the true sense of duty lies plainly in not messing up the exceptional fruit nature provides. When you have it this good, no manipulation is needed. As they say, “you don’t put a bumper sticker on a Bentley.”
Many wine-lovers agree that it’s tough for a producer to make equally exceptional expressions of both red and white wines. Moreau does it with unmatched grace and elegance.
As a producer, Domaine Bernard Moreau strikes the balance between classic and current. Both revered and relevant, they have shown a natural ability to expand and evolve without losing track of their roots. Many winemakers try to be too many things, behaving like overzealous painters who mix up all their colors only to wind up with brown. Moreau understands the necessity of letting the best of Chassagne-Montrachet be just that, the best.
In 1809 Auguste Moreau constructed the cellar across from the Champs Gain Vineyard of the Côte d'Or (Golden Slope). There he farmed the family’s few hectares of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Production grew in the 1930s at the hand of Marcel Moreau as he acquired what today represents roughly 80% of the Domaine’s vineyard holdings.
In the 1960s, at just 14 years old, Bernard Moreau took over the vineyards and cellar. He grew the estate’s prestige alongside Françoise Moreau and in 1977 the name Domaine Bernard Moreau became official. Over the years the pair applied many crucial updates and developments; including adding yet another 14 hectares (34.59 acres) to their holdings. They upgraded their equipment, farming practices, and winemaking techniques to become current with modern innovations.
In time, Bernard’s sons Alex and Benoît joined the team to assist in winemaking, sales, and viticulture after working vineyards around the globe. They traveled to New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa, surely discovering the true meaning of Dorothy’s, “there’s no place like home.” Their first vintage of Chassagne-Montrachet was 1995 and they took control of all operations in 1999. The pair are an important presence in the new wave of talented young winemakers in the region, with Benoît dedicated to the vineyards and Alex in the cellar.
The brothers manage the vineyards without the use of herbicides or pesticides, with only plowing applied. They use only organic fertilizer and indigenous yeasts. Yields remain low through fastidious pruning and, like their forefathers, they do everything by hand.
In the cellar, the grapes are treated with the utmost care. After a gentle crush, they are left to settle overnight. All wines are aged in French oak barrels with no racking or less stirring to maintain the delicate aromatics and prolong the fermentation process.
Bernard Moreau et File Chassagne-Montrachet Premier Cru Morgeot 2014
This is the very rare sort of wine that I call, “slam your fingers in the door and keep on smiling good.” The ’14 vintage is just plain phenomenal to drink right now. The flavors are of bright lemon and baked yellow apple tart with a buttery vanilla crust. The years show like the essence of a woman of a certain age when the whole world can feel that she’s in her prime. She’s radiant and confident with no need for over-the-top outfits or makeup; just naturally epic and beautiful in her God-given glory…if I’m starting to sound like a romance novelist, it’s for good reason. Constructed of 100% Chardonnay, the wine is fermented in 10-30% new French oak barrels. It was aged 18 months before release without fining or filtration to allow the natural lees to enhance the body and texture.
I paired it with a bath. To be intimately alone with a wine like this felt like the honor of a lifetime! One of my most simple pleasures taken to new heights thanks to a collector friend of my mother’s who gifted her the bottle (of course we shared it!! I only had one glass in the tub while she enjoyed her first over a book. We finished the bottle side-by-side in honor of her 70th birthday and newly acquired COVID-19 vaccine.
ABV: 13.5% -- $115 (average)
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As mentioned, the 2014 vintage of white burgundy is, in a word, spectacular. Spring was warm and dry producing a relatively early bud break. Chassagne-Montrachet (and also Puligny-Montrachet) was fortunate to escape a hailstorm in June that impacted the neighboring Côte de Beaune, causing severe damage in the villages of Volnay, Pommard, Meursault, and Beaune. Some challenges during flowering reduced the yields, resulting in a lessened crop. Despite the reduction, the fruit that did thrive enjoyed uninterrupted maturation. The reduced yields meant some producers we unable to bottle their Premier Cru sites and were forced to combine them into a single declassified blend. Moreau was lucky to produce the wine we are discussing. Me? I’m luckier still to drink it.
Learn more about the 2014 vintage in this article from Vinous
Morgeot is the largest Premier Cru vineyard in Chassagne-Montrachet Located at the southern end of the appellation. With a total size of 54.17 ha (133.8 acres) and 21 sub-divisions, or climats, the soils are mostly clay on top of limestone. Both red and white varieties are permitted here for planting.
Morgeot translates from the Gallic ‘Morga’, meaning “border limit”, as the site sits at the southern border of Chassagne-Montrachet and Santenay. The wines produced here are rich and powerful with the advantage of the slightly warmer southern climate. The aging potential is proven in this bottle, as Alex takes great care to pick early enough that the acid structure remains in place and the grapes don’t over ripen.
Have you had wines from this producer or region? Drop a comment below! If not, I hope you seek them out. You won’t be disappointed.