Domaine Bonneau du Martray is one of the stars of the Cote de Beaune—both for remarkable size of the family’s holding and the consistently high quality of the wines. Today led by Jean-Charles Le Bault de la Morinière, the domain has over 20 acres of Chardonnay vines in Corton-Charlemagne, all in a single piece and 3.5 acres in Corton.
It was a treat therefore, for us that Jean-Charles stopped by Morrell Wine Merchants to showcase his great white wine, Corton-Charlemagne. Completely charming, Jean-Charles communicates a boyish enthusiasm for the detail of wine making and the mysteries of the soil and grapes. He explained the domain’s gradual move into biodynamic cultivation, which he believes has resulted in superior wines.
One example: vastly reducing herbicides and pesticides in the vineyards has allowed the ground between the vines to become more porous and better able to absorb rain, halting the chronic erosion that had been washing away much of the top soil.
Among other benefits, Jean-Charles is sure that some of native weeds that have returned between the vine rows have anti-mildew properties that protect the vines. “There’s no question that the vineyard is healthier,” he said. “And the wines are better, more consistent as a result.”
The results, he feels, can be seen in the consistency and high-quality of the wines, especially in challenging vintages, such as 2011, which was hit with bouts of hail and rain throughout the growing season. Ever the experimenter, he’s willing to try just about anything to keep the vineyard’s grapes healthy. As he told Allen Meadows in Burghound, when rain drenched the vineyard in 2011 close to the picking, he leased a helicopter to fly low in the vineyards to dry out the fruit before it was picked: “And this worked very well.”