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Brilliant Chardonnays from Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey

Working the old way in a new cellar
Photo by: Bruce Sanderson
Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey pauses—for just a moment—at his new winemaking facility and cellar in Burgundy.

Posted: Feb 22, 2017 12:50pm ET

I met with Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey at his new facility in the industrial zone outside Burgundy's Chassagne-Montrachet. Completed in time for the 2015 vintage, the facility allows him to ferment the wines from his 25 acres of vineyards plus the fruit that he buys and have two vintages in barrel simultaneously. Colin-Morey's wife, Caroline, also has a new project, and the wines from her 17 acres are also vinified and aged here.

For Colin-Morey, it allows him to work in a more logical way, more relaxed, without having to rack or bottle too early, to make room for the next harvest. He likes a long élevage for the wines, 16 months now for the St.-Aubin cuvées instead of 12 and 18 to 20 months without racking for the wines from Chassagne, Meursault and the grands crus.

Everything is done by gravity and the wines are moved by air pressure rather than pump. There is no more bâtonnage, even in the leaner 2013 vintage, to retain freshness in the wines. He has also moved to fermenting and aging entirely in 350-liter oak barrels.

"The fermentations and malolactic are slower, we keep more CO2, more freshness, more life in the wines," he said, explaining that while the volume is 1.5 times greater than a 228-liter pièce, there is only 1.1 times the surface area. That allows him to use more new oak, between 30 to 50 percent, while keeping more energy and less sweetness in the wines during the maturation in barrel.

Colin-Morey is very pleased with the 2015 vintage, comparing it to 2009 but with lower yields and more concentration. "In the beginning, [2015] was ripe and rich, but during the élevage it gained freshness."

It's certainly a fine range of whites. All the St.-Aubins were bottled (look for my upcoming reviews of these soon) and the following notes are all barrel samples, not yet racked. Here are the highlights of the more than a dozen wines tasted.

At the ripe old age of 88 years, Chassagne-Montrachet Les Enseignères is Colin-Morey's oldest vineyard. Very clean, focused floral and apple flavors are resonant and long. The Chassagne-Montrachet Les Chenevottes expresses lanolin, pear and toast flavors on a refined frame.

Chassagne-Montrachet La Maltroie exudes graphite and mineral aromas, apple and floral flavors, backed by energy and a long finish. Yet the Chassagne-Montrachet Les Caillerets was a step up, very intense and complex, boasting ripe peach, apple, spice and mineral notes matched to a silky texture.

From Meursault, it was a contrast between the creamy Les Charmes, with its butter, peach and apple flavors and the stony, linear Les Perrières, hinting at peach, yet more floral and mineral, with terrific energy.

And then the grands crus, beginning with the austere, lemon-, apple, and stone-flavored Corton-Charlemagne, with its endless finish, from a parcel on the Pernand-Vergelesses side balanced with a parcel on the Aloxe-Corton side, picked the same day in 2015 and cofermented.

The Chevalier-Montrachet features biscuit, lime blossom and apricot notes, verging on creamy in texture and long, if a bit reserved, while the Bâtard-Montrachet, from 85-year-old vines, delivers a ripe, almost exotic profile, evoking apricot, peach and orange peel flavors allied to a powerful frame.

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