Claude Maréchal is a winemaker who most people have not heard about, especially outside France despite his estate being rated at the same level as Dujac, Carillon, d’Angerville, Ponsot and Sauzet in France’s most respected wine guide – La Revue du Vin de France.
His principles in the vineyards are straightforward: the vineyards are plowed, no herbicides are used, treatments are kept to a minimum and the pruning is severe to keep yields low. Vinification takes place in open wooden vats, all grapes are totally destemmed (à la Jayer), and fermentation is not induced by adding cultured yeast, so it can take a few days to start (a “natural” cold pre-maceration) using it’s own. New barrels are added every year for maturation, but their proportion stays very low in order to produce wines where fruit dominates.It is important to stress that there is no recipe here. Winemaking follows a general theme, but techniques may be changed from year to year to suit the conditions of the vintage.
This estate is without doubt one of the best kept secrets in Burgundy.
La Chanière is the vineyard on the north side of the road leading from Pommard to the Hautes-Côtes, just up the canyon from the premier cru Les Arvelets. It is a cold climate terroir. In a solar vintage like 2015 this is a great thing – this is a wine of density, and it is very tightly coiled this year too. I was gifted a bottle of the 2005 by Claude earlier this year and I drank it with my brother recently. It was glorious – resolved, complex and delicious – evidently still with many years left as it was brimming with fruit. Great Burgundy!