2009 vintage: what ripe Chardonnay looks like: gold

golden chardonnay in Chassagne 1er Cru La Maletroie
golden chardonnay in Chassagne 1er Cru La Maltroie

We didn’t have to go far with Alexandre Moreau to see some of his ripe Chardonnay in Cote de Beaune (Burgundy), we just crossed the street from his cellar and into Chassagne 1er Cru La Maltroie vineyard.

Here, too, the leaves were beautifully green. Chardonnay grapes getting golden like this is rarely to be seen. Getting golden grapes only happens in good to great vintages. It is a sign of ripeness and almost always guarantees the magical complexity of Chardonnay that is unique to Burgundy. Here the pips were riper (more brown and less tannic) than those tasted in the Cote de Nuits. The skins were delicate and the juice, sweet already.

Alexandre Moreau in Chassagne 1er Cru La Maltroie
Alexandre Moreau in Chassagne 1er Cru La Maltroie

As a general rule of thumb to estimate harvest dates, one counts 100 days from the flowering of the vines. Weather conditions during those 100 days can modify harvest dates, but in general it is approximately 100 days to maturity of grapes. Alexandre tells us that in this vineyard, 100 days would mean harvesting it on the 10th of September.

shot Chardonnay grapes
shot Chardonnay grapes

In this photo, we can see that there are some shot grapes (known as millerandé, in French). This is a bunch of grapes where the grapes are of variable size and diameter. This comes mainly from a flowering that takes a long time to take place. It is generally a positive sign. The different sizes of grapes mean that all the grapes taste different bringing added complexity to the aromas and flavors of the ensuing wine. (This is true for both red and white.) Smaller grapes have less juice proportionally to the skins. These smaller grapes are more concentrated, both in acidity and alcohol…and flavor!

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