Burgundy 2012: Méo Camuzet – In the spirit of Henri Jayer

In November 2012, we visited the Domaine Méo Camuzet and met with the polite owner Jean-Nicolas Méo who guided us through their wines which comes from an impressive collection of vineyards; four grand crus (Richebourg, Clos Vougeot, Corton Clos Rognet, and Échezeaux) and 10 premier crus. The Domaine focus very much on work in the vineyards to produce grapes that can be transformed into top quality wines.

The spirit of Henri Jayer is still very much present at the Domaine, so they still de-stem 100%, keep meticulously low yields, perform 4-5 days cold soak (improved colour and nose) and focus on ruthless pruning in favour of less green harvest in the vineyards without using chemicals and pesticides. However, Henri is definitely most recognised for turning the vineyard (according to many impossible) Parantoux into a fantastic wine. For many years the legendary winemaker was responsible for several of the Domain’s vineyards and in 1978 he produced the first Cros-Parantoux under his own label. The wine is still produced in small quantities and in half bottles to satisfy end-consumers.

IMAGE_681C1F67-23BF-48E0-886D-54A372C0DC17Jean Méo’s son Jean-Nicolas Méo arrived to the estate in 1985 from Paris, and was convinced by Henri about his philosophy and result. Actually, he took over the domaine officially in 1988 when Henri retired the same year and he immediately started ending leasing agreements for the families vineyard to produce wine on their own. In addition, the enologist Christian Faurois that had been at the estate since 1973 has been a big influence too in the way a vineyard should be handcrafted to produce absolute best grapes expressing the terroir. Both are still working together with Christian directing the work in the vineyards and Jean-Nicolas heading the vinification and sales. Maceration endures for about 2-3 weeks and they use little sulphur. They use a significant high level of new oak from Maison François Frères, but amazingly it does not appear to result in overly oaked wines. For the grand crus are normally exposed to 100% new oak from the forests of Tronçais and/or Bertranges is used. De-stemming 100% renders really pure fruit, but obviously for pinot noir has the backside of removing well needed natural tannins in less structured vintages, so oak tannins is certainly needed.

Jean-Nicolas, informs us that the objective is to make wines with structure and purity, but never ever compromise natural balance.

2011 Vosne-Romanée – Barrel

This wine has a quite open and fresh nose driven by red fruit. As expected, this is an easily approachable and a bit seductive wine. This a little quiet, but good entry-level village wine.

89-90p/100

 

2011 Chambolle-Musigny – Barrel

The Chambolle-Musigny almost was a bit reduced and not very approachable. Therefore it is quite hard for us to score. Wines from this region are careful but we expect this to open up more later on.

86-88p/100

2011 Vosne-Romanée les Chaumes – Barrel

Now we take a step up to the premier crus and we are met with a quite ripe red fruit, dominated by strawberries. This is a true crowd pleaser and a wine, which most people would enjoy, though it lacks complexity to deserve a higher score.

92p/100

2011 Nuits-Saint-Georges aux Murgers – Barrel

A quite rustic wine with high level of acidity. When we tried the wine it was a bit austere. We find strawberries, earthy minerals and some darker fruit. This wine needs some more time to develop and get more balanced.

89p/100

2011 Clos Vougeot – Barrel

The vines used for this Clos Vougeot has been replanted a few times, but the oldest vines are from 1920. Especially, here old vines that have had the time to dig really deep is important to add complexity according to Jean-Nicolas. Méo-Camuzet’s owns an uniform parcel in the better upper part just below the church in the liet-dit Les Chioures, but they don’t mark this on the label.

This is a good quality Clos Vougeot with earthiness, iron, oranges, rowan berries, wild strawberries, cassis, mint and some spices like pepper, clove and cinnamon. The finish is very long and with good silky tannins. This is a complex and intriguing wine, which should develop well over time.

93-94p/100

2011 Corton Clos Rognet – Barrel

The vines from this vineyard was planted in the 1920s.

Unfortunately, we found this wine very hard to evaluate since it was extremely closed. Currently it is quite austere and has a sharp acidic tone.

Will have to develop further before it can be scored fairly.

2011 Échezeaux – Barrel

The Échezeaux is a quite powerful and direct wine with lots of both red end dark fruit. It also has a well-needed acidity to balance the fruit and the acidity carries the wine through the finish, which is quite long. We are talking more about volume and generosity than about elegance, though the scent can be quite seductive.

92-p/100

2011 Vosne-Romanée au Cros Parantoux – Barrel

We perceived the Cros Parantoux as slightly reduced, but it was still possible to get an impression of the wine and the potential. Since the production is very limited, Jean-Nicolas says they some times produce half bottles of this wine to satisfy end-customers. He also says that the work up there is simply crazy and quite a challenge due to the elevation and stones.

There are and abundance of minerals in this wine but we also find quite discrete but fresh fruit, under vegetation and distinct spices. The acidity is a bit harsh, chalky now and it seems like the Cros Parantoux needs more time than the Richebourg to evolve. The finish also reveals some more spurring tannins, which is quite persistent with a more deep darker aromas.

The potential in this wine is fantastic and we hope to be able to try it again in the future to be able to follow its development.

93-95p/100

 

2011 Les Richebourg – Barrel

Méo Camuzet’s vines planted in the 1950’s grow in the very top part of Richebourg, very close to Cros Parantoux, and when Frederik ask him about this fact, Jean-Nicolas directly points out that the high position and the chalky soil really adds to the high acidity and freshness of the wine. The use of both Tronçais and Bertranges is especially suited here according to Jean-Nicolas, since he believes that really mature grapes from this upper part of the site will only benefit from its tannins and polish.

This is already a balanced and complex wine and is the clear highlight of the visit. The nose opens up slowly in the glass and it reveals fresh strawberries, morning dew, orange peels, minerals and spices. On the palate, we find wild strawberries, blood orange, mint, anise, fennel, dark chocolate, cinnamon and ginger. This wine shows great depth without being over-powered, but rather light-weightly structured. There is also a silky tannic structure, which is very light but still provides enough direction and grip to steer the wine.

We did not agree 100% on the score, where Andreas was a pusher for 95 and Frederik was up at 96.

95-96p/100

Overall impression

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Jean-Nicolas and Andreas

We could be accused of generalizing too much, but we think the wines of Méo Camuzet and Hudelot-Noëllat show clear similarities. These are all fantastic producers with an amazingly high base level and they are quite rich, very well balanced and polished wines. The only thing we may lack in the wines from Méo Camuzet is some more personality.

Méo Camuzet has a spectacular list of vineyards, which makes the tasting very interesting for anyone interesting in comparing characteristics of different vineyards.

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