2016 Domaine Thomas Morey Bâtard-Montrachet Grand Cru


“Richer and firmer than a premier cru, our Bâtard-Montrachet reveals its power and structure while still young, but nevertheless is built for laying down. Fat, meaty, vinous, fleshy, and full-bodied, it has a solidity that makes its aromas of honey, toast, and almonds almost chewable.” – Winemaker, Thomas Morey

French author Alexandre Dumas, who wrote the Three Musketeers once said, “Montrachet should be drunk kneeling with one’s hat off.”

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As one of the most popular grapes for growing and consuming, Chardonnay can be made in a wide range of styles depending on where it is grown and how it is made. These styles can vary from a sparkling Blanc de Blanc, or fresh fermented in stainless steel, to rich and creamy white wine aged in oak barrels. While Chardonnay can flourish in many environments, in its homeland of Burgundy it can produce some of the most remarkable and longest lived examples. Whereas from California it can produce both oaky, buttery styles as well as leaner, European-inspired wines. A Somm secret: the Burguny subregion of Chablis, while typically using older oak barrels, produces a bright style similar to the unoaked style with high levels of acidity. Most people who do not like oaky/buttery Chardonnay may likely enjoy Chablis.

Notable regions for this grape include Burgundy (and Chablis) in France, Central Coast, Napa, and Sonoma in CA, and Western Australia.

When pairing with meals, consider the characteristics, flavors, and acidity of your food first. You always want to try to match the same characteristics and intensities with your wine. No brainer pairing options include seafood, salads, and white meat. Chardonnay, with its vast versatility, is everyone’s best friend.

Burgundy, France

Burgundy, AKA “Bourgogne,” is a small, historical region in east-central France that covers a wide area with ranging climates. The large number of producers and appellations within Burgundy can make the region seem complicated even to a seasoned wine pro, but fear not – the region need only be as complicated as you want it to be. At it’s essence, Burgundy can be quite simple. This is the home for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and these wines are second-to-none around the world with an influence that is huge in the world of vino. Burgundy winemakers were the pioneers for premium Chardonnay production and continue to provide a benchmark of excellence in viticulture and winemaking for all of their varieties. 

A vineyard’s location is extremely important here. The location will determine their quality level within the Burgundy appellation hierarchy. The highest-quality vineyards will generally have a south or east facing exposure providing the most access to sunlight and offering protection from westerly winds. These wines may be listed as premier cru or grand cru on the bottle label. Soils in Burgundy can vary depending on the area, but you’ll find many of them are rich in limestone. Pinot Noir is grown throughout the entire region and accounts for a third of the total vineyard area. Although a wide range of winemaking techniques are used varying by producer, a classic “Burgundian” Pinot Noir has red fruit flavors in youth that evolve into earth, game, and mushroom as the wine matures. These wines, as well as Chardonnay, can age for many years if stored properly. Other grape varieties include the red grape Gamay, famous to the Beaujolais region, and the white grape Aligoté. 

There are many smaller appellations within Burgundy, just like Bordeaux and other regions in France. These appellations include Chablis, the Côte d’Or, the Côte Chalonnaise, and Mâconnais. Each of these areas house many respected and highly-regarded villages and vineyards. 

Thomas Morey’s roots in Burgundy run very deep: he is tenth-generation in Chassagne-Montrachet. Having split his famous father Bernard Morey’s estate with his brother Vincent Morey upon Bernard’s retirement in 2005, he and his wife Sylvie built a cellar and bottled their first vintage in 2007. The current holdings total 13 hectares, 8 of those owned and 5 of them rented; their production is 65% white wine and 35% red, with annual production of a modest 5000 cases generally.

Morey bottles an impressive 8 different Chassagne crus (including a bit of red in Clos St. Jean), as well as very small amounts of  Bâtard-Montrachet and Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Truffières; there is also a little red from Beaune, Santenay and Maranges. Most of the vines were planted in the 1950’s and 1960’s, and replants are always done by selection massale. The farming is fully organic (not certified), with sparing use of copper and sulfur treatments and others only as needed. Harvest is entirely by hand.

The cellar work is traditional Burgundian. Fermentation takes places with indigenous yeasts and without sulfur at press, in a combination of neutral barrel and tank. Whites undergo malolactic fermentation and are kept on their lees–but without any stirring (bâtonnage)—in barrel of which a maximum of 20% is of new oak. Sulfur is added along the way in very small doses and not at bottling. Whites are gently filtered while reds are not.

Thomas Morey wines tend to fare well critically yet fly under the radar of Burgundy lovers. They are classically Burgundian, vigneron-raised and expressive of grape, terroir and vintage–rich in flavor, depth and texture yet balanced with naturally vibrant acidity and minerality and a restrained hand in the cellar.

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