Sebastien Odoul at Domaine Odoul-Coquard in Morey-Saint-Denis, Burgundy.
– M

orey-Saint-Denis is about fruit and finesse. Not as much finesse as Chambolle-Musigny though. The tannins are more supple than in Gevrey-Chambertin. Basically one could say that Morey-Saint-Denis is like a blend of Chambolle and Gevrey. When it comes to the fruit it is more Chambolle in character, while the tannins are more well-integrated like in Gevrey.

Sebastien Odoul at Domaine Odoul-Coquard in Morey-Saint-Denis produces wine from all three villages. In addition to that he also has vineyards in Vosne-Romanée, Nuits-Saint-Georges and Vougeot.

– Gevrey-Chambertin is spicier and more austere than Morey-Saint-Denis, he continues. In village appellation it is often too much, even when it comes to my own wines. Nine out ten clients pick a Chambolle-Musigny, a Vosne-Romanée or a Morey-Saint-Denis instead.

Domaine Odoul-Coquard in Morey-Saint-Denis, Burgundy.Coming from Gevrey-Chambertin Domaine Odoul-Coquard is the first house of the village as you enter Morey-Saint-Denis. It is just next to the Clos la Riotte, a Morey-Saint-Denis premier cru owned by the village but tended and vinified by the domaine.

Clos de Vougeot, Burgundy.– After bottling I give one third to the commune, explains Sebastien Odoul. We have had this arrangement since 1988. My father was the grower in the village with the least amount of premier cru vineyard, so they let him have the Clos la Riotte. Since we are not the owners we can’t say it’s a monopole. The commune sells its part with a different label in the local wine shop.

Clos la Riotte is where harvest at Domaine Odoul-Coquard always begins. Thanks to the surrounding walls the temperature is slightly higher inside the clos, helping the grapes to ripen earlier.

Morey-Saint-Denis, Burgundy.– There is only ten centimetres of soil in Clos la Riotte, says Sebastien Odoul. The vines are 30 years old. Still young, but they are getting there. After 50 yields go down, but the results are great. There is always a minerality present in this wine.

Sebastien Odoul has been running the domaine since 2004. Before that, in 1999, he had enrolled himself at the wine school Grandchamp, just outside Beaune. An internship at Domaine Dujac followed.

– Wine was not my first choice, he says. Rugby was. But as a teenager you discover cigarettes and girls, and your focus tends to get lost. I was just 17 years old when I was at Domaine Dujac. I was just a little jerk. But slowly I got more and more responsibilities. Then I worked with Thierry Mortet, the brother of Denis, for two years. I wanted to work with Denis, but his son Arnaud is a close friend of mine, so it would not have worked. I got my Bac Pro diploma and moved to Domaine Méo-Camuzet. That was my favourite experience. I like their way of working and I learnt a lot.

Morey-Saint-Denis, Burgundy.Domaine Odoul-Coquard covers 8.5 hectares, with vineyards in all the main Côte de Nuits villages. There are some young vines, but a large portion, especially in premier and grand cru, are between 50 and 70 years old. Village appellation Gevrey-Chambertin and Chambolle-Musigny are fairly large cuvées, but higher up the hierarchy the quantities become very limited. For instance, there is only one barrel of Chambolle-Musigny premier cru Les Sentiers made.

– I love micro vinification. For Les Sentiers I use a new barrel the first six months. Then I switch to an older barrel. Otherwise the impact from the oak would be too much. Les Sentiers is in the northern part of Chambolle-Musigny, bordering on Morey-Saint-Denis, just below Bonnes Mares.

Morey-Saint-Denis, Burgundy.The village appellation wines see one third new oak, the premier and grand crus at least 50 per cent. Village appellation Chambolle-Musigny, Gevrey-Chambertin and Vosne-Romanée are all three blended cuvées, each consisting of grapes from several parcels, whereas the village appellation Morey-Saint-Denis and Nuits-Saint-Georges have been separated into different cuvées. Two for Nuits-Saint-Georges – Les Argillats and Aux Saints Jacques. Three for Morey-Saint-Denis – Aux Chéseaux, Les Crais Gillon and one for the remaining parcels.

– Aux Chéseaux is next to Charmes-Chambertin, says Sebastien Odoul. It is my best parcel of village appellation Morey-Saint-Denis. The other, Les Crais Gillon, is old vines. About 60 years old, except for ten per cent which were replanted in 2011 after the frost in 2010. There is always much millerandage. A good year the yield is 25 hl/ha. The wine is light, very easy-drinking. The third, the blend, is mainly for the French market. Slightly different in character. It could be mistaken for a Chambolle.

The other Morey-Saint-Denis premier cru of Domaine Odoul-Coquard, Les Millandes, is only 30 metres away from Clos la Riotte. A very short distance, but enough to create a distinctly different wine.

Sebastien Odoul at Domaine Odoul-Coquard in Morey-Saint-Denis, Burgundy.– Les Millandes is just behind the house here, says Sebastien Odoul. The age of the vines is the same as in Clos la Riotte, 30 years. It was my grandfather who planted them. Les Millandes is more fat. The soil is more clay than limestone.

Domaine Odoul-Coquard has two grand crus – Charmes-Chambertin and Clos de Vougeot. The former has 15 per cent of Mazoyères-Chambertin in it. The rules state that Mazoyères-Chambertin may be labelled as Charmes-Chambertin, but not the other way around. A blend of the two should always be labelled as Charmes-Chambertin.

– I don’t have enough Mazoyères-Chambertin to make a separate cuvée of it, says Sebastien Odoul. Mazoyères-Chambertin is further down towards the route nationale. My vines there are 70 years old. My Charmes-Chambertin is at the northern end of the appellation, close to Griotte-Chambertin. For me that is the most elegant part of Charmes-Chambertin. Charmes-Chambertin from Mazoyères-Chambertin is a bit too heavy.

The Clos de Vougeot comes from seven rows in the middle of the clos. They run from the middle of the slope down to the road, surrounded by small parcels by Domaine Armelle & Bernard Rion and Domaine Coquard Loison Fleurot.

– Tasting Clos de Vougeot is always difficult. It is often closed when young. Then, ten years down the road you begin to have an idea of what it will become.It is not the easiest of grand crus.

– A good year I make four barrels, minus seven litres, of Clos de Vougeot. That means I have to use three barrels, one half-barrel and one quarter-barrel for the wine.

© 2017 Ola Bergman