About Domaine Denis Mortet
Charles Mortet set up his estate in 1956 with a single hectare of vines. True to the tradition in Burgundy, he sold most of his production to merchant houses. In 1978 Denis joined his father, along with his wife Laurence. They were respectively 22 and 20 years old at the time. As Laurence’s family were farmers, she quickly took to working in the vineyard to her great satisfaction. Little by little, Denis developed bottled wine sales.
He succeeded his father in 1993 and created Domaine Denis Mortet. At the time it represented some 4.5 hectares within the districts of Gevrey-Chambertin, Chambolle-Musigny and Vougeot – but this was just the start to the establishment’s vineyard. In 1993 the company acquired the parcels of the Premier Cru Lavaux Saint-Jacques in Gevrey-Chambertin, as well as vineyard plots in Motrot, in Vellé, in Champs, and La Côte des Longeroies in Marsannay. In 1997 it purchased the district area, La Combe du Dessus. This was followed in 1999 by the acquisition of the vineyard of Chambertin Grand Cru. And of Premier Cru parcels and the Derée locality in 2000. At present, the estate comprises 11.2 hectares. In 2000 Denis’ son, Arnaud entered the company. He and his mother have been in charge since 2005.
A man of the vineyards, Arnaud’s “knack”, as critic David Schildknecht recently put it, is to be driven to produce perfect Pinot fruit from meticulously tended vineyards. He is without question one of the finest growers of the entire Côte (many of his colleagues acknowledge as much) and as great wines are the products of great fruit, it is no coincidence that he is producing some of the finest wines in Burgundy today. There is no doubt that the wines are more refined than those produced while his father was alive, yet they share the same intensity and potential longevity.
Arnaud is continuing Denis’ dream of producing more refined wines: openly getting closer stylistically to the wines of his uncle, Charles Rousseau, without sacrificing depth and intensity or consistency across the range (which Rousseau has often lacked). Denis was already “backing off” the extraction in the pursuit of greater elegance but Arnaud is taking this even further, not only via shorter and gentler macerations, but also by reducing the percentage of new oak used. At the same time the vineyard work chez Mortet is at the very highest level. Horse is now used to plough all 1er and Grand Cru vineyards (in order to minimise soil compaction) and organic/biodynamic practice is now being trialed in these sites. Machines are no longer used in any sites and all the work, including spraying copper/sulphur which is done via backpack.
The yields remain very low (much lower than Rousseau for example) and, according to my understanding, the fruit selection (triage) is also much more severe. Lower yields and stricter triage will always result in richer, more intense wines, at least when the wines are young.
Mortet’s vineyards are things of beauty. Every vine is tended by hand and leaves are removed if damaged in any way. The Allen Meadows notes above comments on the renown that Arnaud Mortet enjoys amongst his peers for his vineyard work. Everyone who knows Arnaud is well aware that he is a perfectionist by nature and that he is driven by the desire to honour his father’s legacy. He has made a wonderful start. The continued evolution of Domaine Denis Mortet is certainly going to be very exciting to watch (and taste!)
This is Mortet’s ‘super Gevrey’ from an outstanding clutch of five terroirs (the ‘Cinq’ in the name): En Motrot, situated between the church and Château de Gevrey-Chambertin, close to Clos Saint-Jacques; Au Vellé, very close by, under Petits Cazetiers; La Combe du Dessus situated at the top of the Brochon slope, just northeast of Gevrey itself; En Champs directly below Gevrey’s Champeaux 1er Cru (the vines here are over 70 years old) and En Dérée, below En Champs on the Brochon border. In common with Mortet’s most recent vintages, there’s noticeably less oak influence than when his father made this cuvée (only 30% new barrels were used here). This was harvested at around 13% natural alcohol and is an absolutely outstanding wine packed with layers of pure, dark and blue fruits, all kinds of spice and a long, fine, perfumed close. Absolutely superb and like the man says, without doubt “…premier cru quality-period.”
Where in the World are They?
Denis Mortet now run by son Arnaud have plantings throughout the Côte de Nuits. The Village Gevrey-Chambertin in this offer is from a cluster of 5 sites.
The 2015 Vintage by Denis Mortet
This was an early ripening year, with fast blooming flowers, nice bunch setting, a long heat wave and a very dry summer. As a result, the vineyard produced small grapes with thick skins.
Plenty of rainfall, between the 10th and 20th of August, allowed us to obtain decent yields. The fruit was picked from the 3rd to the 11th of September, under sunny skies. The temperature was around 25 degrees and there was a pleasant breeze. Boasting excellent maturity and perfect pH levels, this will be a great year as the wines are powerful.
2015 – REVISITED- AS GOOD AS MY ORIGINAL ASSESMENT – i.e. A GREAT VINTAGE by Allen Meadows
My in-bottle tastings of the 2015 vintage from the Côte de Nuits have served to largely confirm what I concluded last year, which is to say that wine quality ranges from very good to genuinely great. While there are of course some poor wines due either to elevated ripeness levels or too much backend warmth along with some dilution. But as a general proposition, the average 2015 is excellent and you want these in your cellars.
I would add that just like 2016, the 2015s are excellent up and down the appellation hierarchy as well and it’s good everywhere in the Côte de Nuits. So unlike some vintages where it pays to focus on one or two communes or to necessarily emphasize one level of the appellation hierarchy at the expense of another, 2015 is a very consistent vintage. I would go so far as to say that while it’s not a vintage that you can buy blind, it’s close.
About the only other important aspect to mention is that if for whatever reason you did not like the 2009s, then you may wish to try some examples first. I took pains to point out that 2015 is fresher than 2009 but nonetheless the average 2015 is definitely ripe. The average 2015 is also clearly built-to-age but one of the aspects that make the vintage so appealing is that as structured it is, it should still be reasonably approachable young. Happy hunting!
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