2004 Catherine et Dominique Derain Mercurey
“La Plante Chassey”
I should begin this piece by stating that I am a wine retailer in Asheville, North Carolina and yes, I do stock this wine. I am also a wine lover, and this blog is about sharing my love of wine and food. Part of the piece is objective with information on the producer, where their vineyards are, age of vines, etc. and part is subjective with notes on what I smell and taste in the wine and why I think it is so good. Take it for what it’s worth, but at the end of the day, I love writing and I especially love writing about good wine and food.
Dominique Derain is a former barrel maker who caught the winemaking bug back in the early 1980’s. He began studying winemaking in Beaune in the mid 1980’s and there he met his wife Catherine. After graduating, the couple purchased 5.5 hectares of vines in St. Aubin and began making wine, releasing their first wine in 1989. Slowly, the two have added additional holdings including a small plot of vines in the village of Mercurey, in the Cote Chalonnaise just south of Rully. The La Plante Chassey parcel is about 2 acres of 45 to 80 year old Pinot Noir, with a tiny amount of the ancient Burgundian varietal Pinot Beurrot, and the Derains currently make about 300 cases a year from it.
|Pinot Noir just before harvest in Mercurey|
Mercurey is often regarded as one of the top spots to find value in Red Burgundy, but quality is all over the map. The Derains meet all of my standards – certified biodynamic, very low yields, hand harvesting and sorting, native/indigenous yeast fermentations, no filtering and very low levels of sulfur. It is a true vin naturel, but there is nothing unhygienic or funky about this wine in the least. I first enjoyed it with my wine drinking buddy John over a meal at The Admiral pretty soon after Table Wine opened. The wine was absolutely stunning right out of the bottle and we actually shared some with the folks at the table next to us, who promptly asked what the hell it was and where they could get it. At the time, I didn’t have room for the wine, and I pretty much forgot about until John re-presented it to me recently in the store. Let’s just say it’s gotten even better.
Hail and oidium were a major problem for producers in 2004, but meticulous sorting and quality control amongst better producers resulted in some stunning, concentrated and structured wines, and this is one of them. The wine is great right out of the bottle, but trust me, it changes and develops into something even better with about an hour of air. It is one of those Red Burgundies that beguiles the senses and is somewhat beyond description. There is a silky nature to this wine giving it a supple mouth feel and a detailed range of raspberry and cherry fruit with a touch of pomegranate. It has lovely spice notes and touch of lavender on the nose.
The importer for the wine is Jenny and Francois Selections, one of the foremost, progressive importers of natural wines from around the world. Their wines are mainstays on restaurant wine lists throughout New York, where the company is based, and I think that their approach to selecting wines and producers is one that many Ashevilleans will find attractive. I have a small amount of the wine available for purchase (remember, only 300 cases were made), and I think it would make a great accompaniment to a simple roasted pork loin or a seared duck breast.