Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Domaine Faiveley Meursault “Joseph Faiveley” (2009)

Domaine Faiveley (the maker of this 2009 Domaine Faiveley “Joseph Faiveley” Meursault) is one of the largest wine producers in Burgundy. Owning approximately 115 hectares of vineyards spread across some of the best territory in Burgundy, Domaine Faiveley (and this thus Domaine Faiveley “Joseph Faiveley” Meursault) must be considered something of a benchmark for both Meursault and Burgundy as a whole.

First founded by Pierre Faiveley in 1825, Domaine Faiveley has more than a hundred vineyards around Burgundy under its control with the average site just 1 hectare in size. Within Meursault Domaine Faiveley farms several small blocks of vines, including no fewer than four vineyard sites that are classified at Premier Cru level. These Premier Cru Domaine Faiveley Meursault vineyards include a rare Premier Cru site for red Meursault (just 2 acres in the whole of Meursault are classified at Premier Cru level for red wine).

Whilst the grapes sourced from the Domaine Faiveley Premier Cru classified sites within Meursault are vinified and released separately (making wines such as the Domaine Faiveley Meursault Premier Cru “Les Charmes), this Domaine Faiveley “Joseph Faiveley” Meursault is made from grapes that are sourced from outside of these Premier Cru Meursault vineyards. Around 300 hectares of vineyard are classified at this “village level” within Meursault.

Formerly considered a fairly traditional producer of Meursault, something of a revolution has occurred at Domaine Faiveley in recent years. The arrival of Bernard Hervet as the Managing Director at Domaine Faiveley saw a considerable expansion of the vineyards under Domaine Faiveley’s control and whilst it is still the philosophy of Domaine Faiveley that great wine can only come from well located and well cared for vineyard sites, winemaking techniques at Domaine Faiveley (and indeed for this Domaine Faiveley “Joseph Faiveley” Meursault) have changed too. A change of barrel supplier and subtle changes in how the Domaine Faiveley wines (including this Domaine Faiveley “Joseph Faiveley” Meursault) are fermented and matured has yielded fresher and more fruit-led expressions of Burgundy from Domaine Faiveley than before.

100% Chardonnay, the grapes destined for this Domaine Faiveley “Joseph Faiveley” Meursault were first hand-picked within Meursault, before being carefully transported to the Domaine Faiveley winery in Nuits St Georges for vinification. After fermentation, maturation for this Domaine Faiveley “Joseph Faiveley” Meursault was in oak barrels for 13-15 months prior to bottling. Around a third of the oak used for maturation of this Domaine Faiveley “Joseph Faiveley” Meursault is new for each vintage and since the change in philosophy at Domaine Faiveley, the oak used has been specially selected for its tight grain and light toasting.

The bottle of this Domaine Faiveley “Joseph Faiveley” Meursault is very traditional. The Faiveley family crest adorns every label of this Domaine Faiveley “Joseph Faiveley” Meursault with the text adorning the label picked out in dark green and grey font. The bottle of this Domaine Faiveley “Joseph Faiveley” Meursault itself is low shouldered, as is typical for Meursault and the whole of Burgundy.

In the glass, this Domaine Faiveley “Joseph Faiveley” Meursault is a clear (i.e. non-faulty) lemon colour of moderate intensity. Paler in colour than the vintages of this Domaine Faiveley “Joseph Faiveley” Meursault that preceded 2007, this is a testament to the change in oak used for the maturation of this Domaine Faiveley “Joseph Faiveley” Meursault. With a tighter grain and less toasting, the oak used to mature this Domaine Faiveley “Joseph Faiveley” Meursault imparts less of a colour to this Domaine Faiveley “Joseph Faiveley” Meursault than previously. The alcoholic content of this Domaine Faiveley “Joseph Faiveley” Meursault is 13% abv which is entirely typical for Meursault and this vintage.

On the nose, this Domaine Faiveley “Joseph Faiveley” Meursault is clean (i.e. non-faulty) and is wonderfully complex and pronounced. Citrus fruit, stone fruit and tropical fruit all mingle with notes of oak in the bouquet of this Domaine Faiveley “Joseph Faiveley” Meursault. Initially exhibiting lemon citrus and white peach notes, this Domaine Faiveley “Joseph Faiveley” Meursault opens to show hints of pineapple and a little apricot with exposure to air. Oak is omnipresent for this Domaine Faiveley “Joseph Faiveley” Meursault, but never overpowers the fruit with smoky cedar, sweet vanilla and toasted notes all in evidence.

Once in the mouth, this Domaine Faiveley “Joseph Faiveley” Meursault is dry and medium bodied. The nicely weighted palate of this Domaine Faiveley “Joseph Faiveley” Meursault is predominantly stone fruit-led (with fleshy white peaches the predominant flavour, along with a touch of apricot) with a clear oak influence still in place. Notes of brioche and vanilla round and sweeten the fruit in the main part of this Domaine Faiveley “Joseph Faiveley” Meursault’s palate and add a wonderful creaminess to the mouthfeel. Very long, the palate of this Domaine Faiveley “Joseph Faiveley” Meursault is well supported and driven a high level of underlying acidity that prevents the oak influenced fruit of this Domaine Faiveley “Joseph Faiveley” Meursault ever becoming cloying.

Overall, this Domaine Faiveley “Joseph Faiveley” Meursault is without a doubt an outstanding example of Meursault. Complex, nuanced and wonderfully balanced, this Domaine Faiveley “Joseph Faiveley” Meursault is a benchmark wine for the appellation. Different in style to the Meursault that would have carried the Domaine Faiveley name ten years ago, this current example of the Domaine Faiveley “Joseph Faiveley” Meursault is likely to be considered significantly more approachable than those wines would have been in their youth. This Domaine Faiveley “Joseph Faiveley” Meursault is a good example of how top Burgundy is in many instances being “designed” to be drunk younger than would have the case in the past.

When it comes to considering value, in keeping with the other Meursault reviewed recently, wine (such as this Domaine Faiveley “Joseph Faiveley” Meursault) at around £30 per bottle can never be considered inexpensive. However, given that the majority of Meursault that is produced is released near to this price, this Domaine Faiveley “Joseph Faiveley” Meursault equally cannot be considered to be any more expensive than its direct competition.

In some ways, pairing a wine as nuanced as this Domaine Faiveley “Joseph Faiveley” Meursault with food is more complicated than pairing a comparatively simple wine as it becomes challenging not overwhelm the nuances of the wine. However, this Domaine Faiveley “Joseph Faiveley” Meursault will pair perfectly with lobster (and a creamy sauce) or turbot.
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Domaine Faiveley Meursault “Joseph Faiveley” (2009)

Score: 92/100 – An impressive expression of Meursault that ought to develop well too

Value for Money: 7/10 – Expensive at £28 per bottle, but excellent
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