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Wine is bottled poetry
Roberto Louis Stephenson (1850-1894)
Year 6 | Thursday 21 September 2017

Tasting Notes - Côte de Chalonnaise Bouzeron Cuveé Axelle 2013 Domaine Michel Briday

21 July 2015

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The Domaine Michel Briday, or in other words, what to look for in the "Other" Burgundy.

On the label it's written "Côte de Chalonnais", but it is read as "another Burgundy" (cit.). "Another" in the sense of additional, distinct, separate, different, second. The latter of these is perhaps the key word that I was looking for to try to understand why some wines are confined to a niche audience than others despite having the same territorial matrix. They are considered secondary, children of wine areas which are well known to the general public for more theoretical statement for the completion of an enographic picture rather than as production areas themselves. In this short space, however, I want to put myself in the role of those who want to use the word not as a descending hierarchy but as an alternative, with an identity in its own right that seeks to break that paradoxical wall almost void of communication on which the wine sits and, luckily, it is still able to stand.

Between the "noisy" Côte de Beaune to the north and the hills of the Mâcon region to the south, lie the vineyards of the Côte Chalonnaise in a narrow strip over 25 km long and 7km wide, divided into five denominations. The design of the "climat" here is not so meticulously chiseled but the roots of the vine have been here a thousand years in a terrain very similar to its famous neighbours, from the limestone of the Jurassic to marl or clay to then arrive at sand and flint. Even the weather seems to be favorable with hot summers and dry winters which allow for a good ripening of the grapes. Which grapes? The dominant Chardonnay accompanied by Pinot Noir except for a small outpost dominated by a different culture which has a great history itself, Aligote di Bouzeron.

Aligoté represents 6% of the grape varieties grown in Burgundy and it is a native white grape. It is hardy and has variable production, and derives from Pinot Noir and a grape variety which no longer exists, Gouais. It is interesting to know that these are the same parents of the Chardonnay grape and some other grapes found in France. It is characterized by its great acidity and in favorable vintages when it was warm on poor soils, it could provide results of great subtlety even more so than many Chardonnay. A wine which is often sharp and rough, it is considered too subtle for aging in wood so it is vinified only in steel and sometimes on the lees to increase its aromatic content is not too sharp. But it is the exception which confirms the rule. At Bouzeron we find the first denomination of the Côte Chalonnaise after the Canal du Centre towards the south, vineyards of Aligoté which are used for the production of a wine called "Village" - established in 1997- are grown at the top of the hill at a height between 270 and 350 meters and is characterized by its white Bathonian limestone and marl, and is arranged in small lots so that yields can be controlled ensuring a product which best expresses the terroir.

Usually harvests are combined which feature different sun exposure, the south-east with the north-east. Sun exposure in the former is warmer with the development of the aromatic character of the grape, cooler in the latter case giving a wine which is markedly more acidic. The lower part of the hill is reserved for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir for the production of wines that will be marketed under the name "Bourgogne Côte Chalonnaise".

From two vineyard lots which total approximately 1.5 hectares and has plants of around 30 years old, the Cuveé Axelle del Domaine Michel Briday was created.

The brilliance of its appearance adds to a color that is not its main strength, rather pale tending towards a pale gold. The bouquet arrives like a thin figure dancing on tiptoes, delicately floral, acacia, chamomile, daisies. This floral then turns into citrus - lemon and citron, supported by a vegetable note, which is present but not intrusive, as well as a mineral note of flint (quartz) to then finish with a curious hint of hazelnut. The theoretical acidity is belied by an enveloping freshness, round in its subtlety, accompanied by a distinct sapidity and a clever balance with the alcohol and it closes with great persistence. In the mouth, we do not perceive any harshness, there is a spherical effect in the mouth, which, although not explosive, gives greater emphasis to its subtle taste. Do not even think about comparing it to a Chardonnay. The "weight" of this wine is very different and confirms the theory which started this article. There are valid alternatives that nobody talks about.