Visit to Chateau de Marsannay
On my recent trip to Burgundy I had the opportunity to visit the Chateau de Marsannay. Named after the little village which it calls home, Chateau de Marsannay has a long history. The first vines of Pinot Noir were cultivated by the Saint Benoit monks. At this time the vines covered 400 hectares of the slopes surrounding the village of Marsannay-la-Côte. Like many other european wine regions, in 1885, an attack of the Phylloxera parasite decimated the vines. Winemakers were forced to replant and in an effort to reduce the ageing period, decided to start producing rosés. Shortly after Marsannay acquired its own village appellation. It is currently the only village appellation in Burgundy for whites, rosés and reds.
At first glance the grandeur of the chateau is overpowering. The Chateau, owned by the Boisseaux family since 1990, spans over 28 hectares in the Marsannay appellation as well as several plots in Chambertin, Clos de Vougeot and Vosne-Romanée. A considerable feat when you take into account that a producer is considered significant starting at 7 hectares.
View from the chateau
As this was my first visit in Burgundy we were really looking forward to gaining an in depth and hands on knowledge of the region and what goes into creating quality wines. We were lucky enough to get a solo visit with a representative who had started working at Marsannay long before the latest owner took over. He gave us an insight into the region and the appellation system which can seem quite confusing when you're just starting out and getting to know the wines of the region.
He explained to us the importance of the geology and soil types and their impact on the final product. We were surprised to learn how the region is so limited in varietals. It keeps things quite simple as there are only two varietals, Pinot Noir for red and Chardonnay for white.
The cellars where the wine is left to age in oak barrels
As we continued our tour we got to visit the cellars. We started with a quick explanation of the production techniques and steps involved in creating the wines. He continued to explain how the majority of wines in Burgundy were aged in french oak barrels. It was an impressive sight to see all the barrels lined up, the misty air letting us know we were in the right place.
Tasting a selection of wines from Chateau de Marsannay
After our little visit we then went on to try a selection of wines. Much to my surprise, we started off with the rosés continued with the reds and finished with the whites. We were told that this tasting order would allow for a smooth transition between each wine whereas the more common tasting order, from whites to rosés to reds, would make our palates much too aware of the acidity in the whites which would then create an impression of harsher tannins in the reds.
Marsannay Le Parterre - Chateau de Marsannay
Before we continue you must understand that I started this trip with a little bias. I had not been too accustomed to the Pinot Noir varietal as it's not native to the Languedoc, and consequently isn't found in many wines of the region. Of the Pinot Noirs I have tried, the majority have not been to my taste as I find them too weak and without enough substance. So with that in mind, I was really looking forward to this trip to see if Burgundy wines were any different and if they could change my mind on this varietal.
Another thing to note is that due to their rich history and renowned notoriety around the world, Burgundy wines aren't cheap. One of the advantages I found of taking the time to do these tastings was that it allowed us to discover wines which we would have never tasted outside of the context of a tasting due to their price.
So as we continued our tasting adventure, we were lucky enough to try a 2006 Marsannay Le Parterre. This cuvée was such a lovely surprise as the fruitiness of blackcurrants and red fruits was followed by velvety tannins. Finally I had that strength I was looking for all the while not compromising of the expressive character that defines the Pinot Noir. Our guide even showed us the vines that made the wine and to finish it all off it came in at 25€ a bottle.
What about you? Have you ever been to burgundy? Tell me all about it in the comment section down below.