A quick intro to the wines of Meursault…
Meursault has a curious effect on me. I only need to hear the word and I start to feel hungry. It is as rounded and ample as the wines it refers to. It is somehow fitting that you simply can’t say it quickly.
Meursault is one of the best known and most popular of all white Burgundies. It’s a big appellation, and doesn’t concern itself with doing anything new or different – it doesn’t need to. So selecting a Meursault on a wine list can feel a bit obvious; it’s certainly not very trendy. But due to its faintly outrageous style, it always feels a teensy bit naughty – like plumping for the sticky toffee pudding after a big meal. It is similarly classic and just as wonderfully unnecessary.
The village itself is almost excessively pretty. Look past the tall tower of the Mairie in the main square with its traditionally patterned roof tiles and you’ll see the vines reclining over the low hills that surround the village. It’s situated in the Côte de Beaune, the best area for whites, but there are no Grand Crus here, just Premier Crus. Nonetheless, this is quintessential Chardonnay and copied the world over. But try as they might, no-one can quite get the fruit, acidity, oak and delicious fatness of texture all as perfectly balanced as Meursault.
Though you can find leaner, floral styles, what these wines are famous for is their richness. The plump yellow fruit flavours marry perfectly with lashings of oak. The result, especially after five to ten years in the bottle, is a dry wine with layer upon layer of apple compote, buttered toast, hazelnut, vanilla and caramel. Like expert chefs, the winemakers gather all these different flavours, fuse them together and make a unified whole that is more than the sum of its parts. The best retain a streak of freshness and minerality that cuts through the opulence.
If you want the best, look to Comtes Lafon, Coche Dury and Roulot, but the best value is to be found amongst less famous names. Look out for Jean-Yves Devevey, Romaric Chavy-Chouet, Vincent Dancer, Yves Boyer-Martenot, Patrick Javillier and Remoissenet. These wines are always at their best with food – lots of food – and are particularly versatile. Think shellfish, chicken and pork in cream sauces. Perhaps all three, one after the other. Meursaults taste best of all when you’re feeling greedy.
First published in Living France magazine.
Shortlisted for the Born Digital Wine Awards 2016 Best Editorial/Opinon Wine Writing
Shortlisted for Fortnum & Mason Food and Drink Awards 2016 Online Drink Writer
Shortlisted for The Louis Roederer International Wine Writers' Awards 2015 Online Communicator
Runner Up in the Born Digital Wine Awards 2015 Best Editorial/Opinon Wine Writing
Shortlisted for Harpers Wine & Spirit French Wine Awards 2014 Best French Wine Writer/Critic
Shortlisted for International Wine & Spirit Competition 2014 Blogger of the Year
Shortlisted for International Wine & Spirit Competition 2013 Blogger of the Year
Off Licence News Top 25 Policy and Opinion Formers 2013
Winner of The Drinks Business Awards 2013 Communicator of the Year
Winner of Fortnum & Mason Food and Drink Awards 2013 Newcomer of the Year
Shortlisted for International Wine & Spirit Competition 2012 Blogger of the Year
Matt Walls first got into wine working in an off-licence in Brighton. He has since worked for Bollinger Champagne and helped manage and buy wines for The Sampler, one of London's best wine shops. He now spends half his time writing about wine and the other half collaborating on various wine-related projects. His first book, Drink Me!, was recently published by Quadrille and has sold over 10,000 copies.
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I'm lucky enough to judge on the Sherry panel at the Decanter World Wine Awards each year and this tastes like gold medal material to me. Smoky spices jump out of the glass along with liquorice, polished wood and smoked almonds. It's beautifully fragrant, harmonious and absolutely classic. Medium-bodied with burnished acidity and a lingering, dry, saline finish. £26.58 (from thedrinkshop.com) might seem like a lot for a bottle of sherry, but it’s a full 75cl, it’s hugely concentrated and will easily last for a month in your fridge. Do yourself a favour and get a bottle in for Christmas.
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