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FICOFI: Domaine Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne 2017, 2011, 2001, 1994

October 14, 2019

FICOFI hosted an excellent dinner event at The American Club, Singapore, on 08 October 2019 that featured the wines of Domaine Bonneau du Martray with its general manager M. Thibault Jacquet in attendance. For many, this domaine is synonymous with Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru. Occupying 9.36 ha mid-slope on the Corton hill that is largely south-facing all the way from the lower border adjoining Corton Grand Cru (where pinot noir is planted) to the top of the hill more than 300 metres high, Bonneau du Martray is the largest landowner of these hallowed grounds. Its unique location facilitates even exposure to both the morning and afternoon sun. Biodynamically farmed since 1994, the slower-maturing grapes favour a longer growing season, resulting in wines that harbour fuller flavours and finer acidity. To this day, even after Jean-Charles de la Moriniere had sold out to American (shudder) Stan Kroenke in 2017, the white of Bonneau du Martray remains the yardstick by which all other wines of Corton-Charlemagne are judged. And, lest we forget, this domaine also produces a Corton Grand Cru from three separate plots (one of which actually lies within Corton-Charlemagne) totalling only 1.5 ha. They drink well but it is the Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru that will, rightly so, be forever worshipped by wine lovers throughout the world. Prices have jumped significantly since the takeover. One often hear of people talking about the greatness of pre-phylloxera wines. In the case of Domaine Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru, will it be a case of the pre-2017 wines that will always hold a special place in our hearts? Only time will tell. Merci FICOFI.

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2006 Philipponnat Clos des Goisses Brut. Poured from magnum. Highly aromatic, exuding a great lift of peaches and exotic tropical fruits with distant notes of icing. Open with very fine bubbles, underscored by subtle crisp acidity with the darker traces of pinot noir distinctly discernible. Very well textured with citrus and sweet white floral tones at just the right intensity with further notes of gentle yeast and toast coming on late. Excellent.

20191008_200617.jpg2017 Domaine Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru. Pale. Distinctly minerally in its sharply-defined lifted bouquet, almost flinty, with a hint of oiliness. Displays very good concentration of supple white fruits and clear citrus with delicate precision within a slim profile, imparting great subtlety and transparency, evoking further notes of nutmeg, heated gravel, crème de la crème and sake that hinted at fabulous future complexity. Beautifully balanced and proportioned. Already imbued with that extra dimension found only in the best vintages, this wine clearly has plenty of understated reserve but just only revealing teasing glimpses of its potential greatness at this stage. Outstanding.

2011 Domaine Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru. Lovely clean feminine lift of white flowers. Superbly proportioned with rounded restraint within a slim profile where layers of delicate fruit are readily discernible with excellent inner definition and precision. Highly poised and elegant, exuding tremendous subtlety throughout with controlled power and concentration even as it developed an expansive tone of white pepper at the finish. Highly cerebral. Very correct in every way, like the perfect demure beauty with brains. A connoisseur’s white. Outstanding.

2001 Domaine Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru. Pale luminosity. Gentle complex of distant nutmeg and icing, reminiscent of sake. Open with supple concentration, instilled with moderate intensity of clear citrus as well as a deeper streak of refined minerality on a backdrop of distant white floral tones. Took on greater intensity and definition over time, eventually settling with a Zen-like calm to a waxy finish amid faint traces of white pepper. Excellent.

1994 Domaine Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru. Clear luminosity. Shy, rather evasive on the nose. The palate is distinctly minerally with gentle chalky tones, somewhat narrow in profile, showing good transparency though its concentration appears to be flagging a little, tapering to a quiet nondescript finish. Feels tired. A second pour from another bottle fared only marginally better, perhaps a little more even in tone and concentration with a more pronounced chalky glow amid overtones of nutmeg but decidedly restrained, developing greater intensity but still missing in true complexity and tertiary development.

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2017 Domaine Bonneau du Martray Corton Grand Cru. Glorious clear deep purple. Forward in ripe raspberries, dark cherries and currants. Rounded and supple, showing good control of power and concentration with fine presence, subtly intense, oozing sweet understated tannins but lacking structure and inner detail. Somewhat short.

1994 Domaine Bonneau du Martray Corton Grand Cru. Showing early evolution in colour with quite a lovely deep bouquet of bright red fruits, cherries and some raspberries. Open and fleshy, softly rounded with good suppleness, displaying fine tertiary development but not spectacular, missing inner detail and depth as it finished on a quiet note with good linearity.

Bual 1969 Blandy’s Madeira. Deep seductive bouquet of glowing ember and burnt toast, layered with glorious concentration of fruit that is still remarkably fresh, exuding a lovely rounded burnished richness amid light medicinal tones with traces of sweet tobacco snuff. Excellent but really more of a connoisseur’s drop.

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