parkling wine is a new thing in Burgundy. Relatively speaking, that is. While still wine has been made for a very long time in Burgundy, the history of sparkling wine in the region just goes back some 200 years…
– The village of Rully is the historical centre of sparkling wine in Burgundy, explains Philippe Chautard at Maison Louis Picamelot. Initially it was a way to increase the value of the regional appellations.
Rully is in the Côte Chalonnaise, 20 minutes northwest of Chalon-sur-Saône. For the past two centuries sparkling wine has been a considerable addition to the village production. Maison Louis Picamelot dates back to 1926, when Philippe Chautard’s grandfather, together with his father, started out making Bourgogne Mousseux, as it was called at the time.
– My great-grandfather was also a cooper, says Philippe Chautard. The two also helped a few colleagues to get started. At the time what they produced was called Bourgogne Mousseux. Then in the early 1970s people starting thinking about how quality could be improved. In 1975 the appellation Crémant de Bourgogne was created, which generally meant a stricter set of rules. One thing was that everything had to be harvested by hand.
For a long time all the base wine used at Maison Louis Picamelot was bought in from outside sources. But over the years this proved more and more difficult.
– My father retired in 1987, says Philippe Chautard. I continued together with my brother. In 2003 my brother left and I bought his part of the company. In 1991 we had switched to buying grapes, but Burgundy is a difficult market. Even now when we are buying grapes we have problems finding any to buy. And if we manage to find some it is not necessarily from the same parcel as the previous year.
With this in mind Philippe Chautard decided it was time for a change. A grower they had been working with was about to retire, so he bought the whole domaine and began creating a portfolio of vineyards.
– We took on the domaine, he says. Employees and everything. After that we began adding more land to the domaine. Today we produce 40 per cent of the grapes we use. In total we have eleven hectares. I prefer to stay relatively small. My aim is not to make crémant for the supermarkets. Our annual production is 250 000 bottles. In addition to that we also produce between 50 000 and 100 000 bottles for other growers.
Harvest is, as prescribed by the regulations, done by hand. The grapes are put into small 20 kg cases and then transported back to the winery, located in an old quarry in Rully. About 50 per cent are pinot noir, 30 per cent are chardonnay and the remaining 20 per cent are aligoté. Much of the bought in grapes come from the Côte Chalonnaise. Some from the Mâconnais.
Maison Louis Picamelot only produces sparkling wine. A handful of cuvées, ranging from white, via rosé, to red. Six different grape varieties may be used for Crémant de Bourgogne – pinot noir, chardonnay, gamay, aligoté, melon and sacy. Maison Louis uses the first four ones. Proportions depend on the cuvée and in general very little gamay is used.
– Our rosé is 100 per cent pinot noir, says Philippe Chautard. We let the grapes macerate in the press. The grapes for rosé often have a bit higher level of maturity. We harvest in the afternoon. At the end of the day we fill the press with grapes and leave it overnight. It depends on the vintage, but some time during the following day we press.
Les Terroirs is a cuvée including four grape varieties. Mainly pinot noir, chardonnay and aligoté, but also a small portion of gamay.
– For this one we use very little dosage, says Philippe Chautard. I prefer to have more mature grapes instead. And in order to keep a good acidity we press lightly.
Since we are in Burgundy there is also a single vineyard Crémant de Bourgogne. Terroir de Chazot is from Saint-Aubin. Chazot is above the village, at an altitude of 400 metres in the Bourgogne Hautes-Côtes de Beaune appellation.
– You have a lovely view from up there, says Philippe Chautard. It’s above Saint-Aubin Les Perrières. The vines are about 50 years old. The harvesters use small buckets to keep whole bunches intact. The grapes are then put in 20 kg cases and transported back to the winery. We only use first press juice. It’s a blanc de noir, 100 per cent pinot noir.
The sparkling red of Maison Louis Picamelot does not qualify for the Crémant de Bourgogne appellation. Instead, the older appellation Bourgogne Mousseux is used.
– It is a type of wine that used sell a lot in the past, explains Philippe Chautard. It used to be demi-sec. It is mainly pinot noir and you are allowed to use up to 20 per cent gamay. Some dosage is necessary in order to avoid the tannins. It is a wine that goes well with chocolate or fruit desserts.
Recently Maison Louis Picamelot took on land in Talant, on the western outskirts of Dijon. 11 000 chardonnay and pinot noir will be planted and the first bottlings will be in 2023.
© 2016 Ola Bergman