n Virondot is about as high up you can get in Chassagne-Montrachet. This premier cru is tough to work. There is very little soil here; the rock is very close to the surface. Parts of it remained unplanted for long periods of time. Today there are only two owners, but since Domaine Marc Morey owns two out of the 2.10 hectares there is only one bottling available of En Virondot.
– There were parts of En Virondot that hadn’t been planted since the phylloxera, says Sabine Mollard. It was too difficult to work up there, so my father bought some parcels, replanted them and added them to the ones he already had. It is a wine which is meant to be kept; eight to twelve years in the cellar is my recommendation.
Sabine Mollard arrived at Domaine Marc Morey in September 2003, right in time for the harvest. But taking on the family domaine was not what she had planned, far from it.
– It was not an easy decision, she says. How I ended up making wine was a bit unusual. I had studied to become a geography teacher and I had been working for a year when my younger brother, who was meant to take on the domaine, died.
That inevitably brought up the question about the domaine’s future. As the only child left she would inherit it all.
– There were two options, says Sabine Mollard. We could sell the whole thing once my parents retired, or I could give it a try myself. I was 28 years old at the time. I wasn’t married or had any kids. Since I didn’t want to regret anything further on I decided to at least give it a chance.
– I decided to go to wine school, get an exam and do an internship abroad. If I then, after three years, didn’t like it I could sell the domaine or I could carry on.
Obviously, in the end she decided to stay on. She had then done two internships, one in the Ardèche and one in the Tokaj region in Hungary.
– I went to Tokaj for three months, which included the harvest. I worked at Disznókő, a winery owned by AXA Millésimes. It was a wonderful experience because they don’t work like us at all. And the wines are sweet, lovely wines. You also have lovely whites from Balaton and reds from Eger. I had the opportunity to discover many producers and to taste a lot.
– But at the same time, since it was so different there weren’t anything specific I learnt that I could bring back home and apply on my work here. Still, it was great to see other things and to see that you can make great wines in a completely different way.
Domaine Marc Morey covers 9.5 hectares. There are 13 appellations, from Bourgogne Aligoté to Bâtard-Montrachet. Production is mainly white and most vineyards located in Chassagne-Montrachet. Back in the late 1970s the domaine was split between the children of Marc Morey. Part of the domaine became Domaine Morey-Coffinet, part remained Domaine Marc Morey.
– Even our two parcels of Bourgogne blanc are located in Chassage-Montrachet, says Sabine Mollard. The soil is very similar in both of them. But the largest parcel was planted in 2003. In the other one the vines are between 40 and 50 years old.
There is village appellation Chassagne-Montrachet, both red and white, and there are five different Chassagne-Montrachet premier crus. South of the village is the already mentioned quasi-monopole of En Virondot, as well as Les Caillerets and Morgeot. To the north you have Les Vergers and Les Chenevottes.
– Les Vergers is on the Saint-Aubin side, says Sabine Mollard. We have some Saint-Aubin premier cru Charmois. Les Vergers is right below Charmois, and below Les Vergers you have Les Chenevottes. Les Vergers is the beginning of the slope. Les Chenevottes is flat. In Les Vergers there is more limestone; it’s a wine with more minerality.
– Compared with En Virondot both Les Vergers and Morgeot are wines you can drink much younger. En Virondot has elements from all the other Chassagne-Monrachet premier crus. To me En Virondot sums up Chassagne-Monrachet. It’s always very difficult to taste when young. I’ve had 20–25 year old bottles that have been wonderful.
Domaine Marc Morey has one parcel in Puligny-Montrachet, in the premier cru of Les Pucelles to be precise. Marc Morey replanted the parcel back in the 1990s and it was then split in two between Domaine Marc Morey and Domaine Morey-Coffinet.
– So if you go to my cousin Thibault Morey at Domaine Morey-Coffinet his Puligny-Montrachet Les Pucelles comes from the very same parcel, says Sabine Mollard. It’s the same clone; our vines are side by side. The only difference is that his vines are next to a wall, whereas I have some old vines next to me which are becoming prone to disease.
In the vineyards they work along the principles of lutte raisonée, sustained culture.
– We’re trying limit the treatments, to only spray when it’s absolutely necessary. We plough our vineyards. There is a lot of manual work at the domaine. All in all I would say it’s very traditional.
© 2014 Ola Bergman