ean-Luc Maldant in Chorey-lès-Beaune runs two domaines, does not believe in harvesting by hand and produces whisky aged in Corton barrels.
– I prefer harvesting by machine, he says, because it allows me to harvest on the best possible day, when the grapes have reached optimum ripeness. With a team of pickers that is not always possible.
Back in 1998 Jean-Luc Maldant created his own domaine in Chorey-lès-Beaune, just outside Beaune. At the time Domaine Jean-Luc Maldant covered only two and a half hectare. Over the years more vineyards were added and in 2009 he also took on the family domaine, Domaine Maldant-Pauvelot, adding up to a total of 18 hectares in the appellations surrounding the Corton hill.
– I am aware of the fact that by using a harvest machine I lose some quality, says Jean-Luc Maldant. But I think I gain quality in other ways. It gives me the freedom to harvest exactly when I want. With a machine you can stop and wait if you feel it is necessary. You can’t have a picking team hanging around for a week doing nothing.
– We use carbon dioxide to protect the grapes during harvest. It only takes them 27 seconds to reach the case where they are blanketed with gas. Thanks to this the oxidation is limited. The grapes are transported to the winery in small vats, also under the protection of carbon dioxide. These vats are also insulated in order to keep the temperature stable and they are all cleaned before they are returned to the vineyards for more grapes.
Jean-Luc Maldant is a sixth generation winegrower. Originally it was Jean Pauvelot who created the domaine in 1893. Then Jean-Luc’s grandmother Madeleine married Hubert Maldant from Ladoix.
– After the death of my father I worked at the family domaine for four years, he explains. But it was difficult for me to work with his second wife. So I left and set up my own domaine. The first year I sold everything off as grapes. 1999 was my first vintage on my own. In 2009 we took on the four hectares of the family domaine as well.
All appellations of the two domaines are either on or very close to the Corton. The only exception is the Beaune Aigrots, a premier cru on the Pommard side of the town. All premier and grand crus are bottled under the Domaine Maldant-Pauvelot name, while most village and regional appellations use the Domaine Jean-Luc Maldant label.
A large part of the vines are located in Chorey-lès-Beaune, both the ones for the village appellation and the regionals, the Bourgogne Pinot Noir and the Bourgogne Chardonnay.
– I think the best parcels in Chorey-lès-Beaune are located in Poirier Malchaussé. There are also some good ones in Les Champs Longs and Les Bons Ores.
Unlike many others Jean-Luc Maldant does not rate Les Beaumonts, one of the few Chorey lieux-dits located west of the route nationale, as the best of the appellation.
– Les Beaumonts is a beautiful terroir and it is a beautiful name, he says. But I prefer the ones already mentioned. I have two and a half hectare in Les Beaumonts. My parcels in Poirier Malchaussé and Les Bons Ores are much smaller. That’s why I make two different cuvées of Chorey-lès-Beaune. One with Les Beaumonts and one with the others.
– For my white Chorey-lès-Beaune I have two parcels in Les Champs Longs. One is located close to the route nationale. Young vines, planted in 2007. The other is near the Volkswagen garage. Old vines, planted around 1970.
The winemaking is the same for the two domaines, simply because Jean-Luc Maldant feels it would be too difficult for one person to have two styles. The vineyard work is stricter than lutte raisonnée, but not as strict as biodynamic.
In Ladoix he has a parcel in Les Hautes Mourottes. It is at the very top of the slope. One part of Les Hautes Mourottes is village appellation, the other is Corton grand cru.
– It is facing north. It is the same soil as in Corton, but when the classification was done this part of Les Hautes Mourottes was thought of as a place where perfect maturity was impossible. The soil is very thin and calcareous. With lots of iron oxide.
A bit further south on the Corton hill, in Aloxe-Corton, Jean-Luc Maldant produces both village appellation Aloxe-Corton and Aloxe-Corton premier cru Les Valozières. You’ll find Les Valozières right below Corton Bressandes. Les Valozières itself is split in two, where the upper half is premier cru and the lower part is village appellation.
– Part of our old vines Aloxe-Corton comes from Les Valozières, says Jean-Luc Maldant. There are also grapes from Les Citernes, Les Boutières and Les Cras. The soil in Les Cras is like a blend between Savigny and Chorey. Les Citernes is very stony and it is very wet. The soil is black. This part gives the wine good structure. Les Boutières is perhaps the least good part. It is bordering on the regional appellation and Chorey-lès-Beaune.
He is not sure about the exact year when the vines were planted by his great-grandfather. He thinks it was in 1949. His great-grandfather had a great interest in viticulture, so he would search both the Côte de Nuits and the Côte de Beaune for the best vines.
– In the Aloxe wines you have a lot of power. Some wines are very hard and closed, and they will need a lot of time to open. But Valozières is often very easy to drink.
Both the grand crus of the domaine are up on the Corton hill – Corton-Renardes and Corton-Charlemagne.
– The Corton-Charlemagne parcel is at the top of the slope, in the Le Charlemagne lieu-dit, above the cross, facing south. The vines were planted in 1950.
– Corton-Renardes is a very small parcel, so we pick it by hand together with some friends. We use whole bunches and the crushing is done by feet. We use two vats. One with pigeage, one without.
Recently Jean-Luc Maldant ventured outside Burgundy for the latest addition to his portfolio – whisky. The whisky is made in Scotland, but aged in barrels from the domaine.
– One of our ancestors was a Lord Malden, hence Maldant. So I decided to call my whisky Mac Malden.
Chardonnay barrels are used for the White Bresse, a Highland whisky. Corton barrels are used for the Charolais’ Speyside. The exception is the Black Malden, an Islay whisky where sherry barrels are used.
© 2014 Ola Bergman