The hill in Corton is one of the biggest landmarks in the Cote d’Or and also happens to mark the boundary between the Cote de Beaune and the Cote de Nuits. It has long been considered a superior site, Emperor Charlemagne owned part of this 400 acre hill - that same portion is owned and farmed by Jean-Charles Le Bault de la Moriniere.
Domaine Bonneau du Martray is recognized as one of the world’s great wine estates and is considered a reference point for the appellation. It is the sole estate in Burgundy to produce only Grand Cru wines with the further advantage of holding the single largest contiguous parcel in Corton-Charlemagne. There are 15 parcels that total 23 acres of Chardonnay and a single 3-acre parcel of Pinot Noir from which small quantities of Corton Rouge are made.
The breeding and presence of these wines are a beautiful consequence of soil, Jean-Charles’s meticulous and thoughtful approach to winemaking and interestingly enough, of light. The exposition and altitude of these vineyards is unusual and noteworthy in that it ensures a long, slow maturation of fruit, excellent drainage, and insurance against frost. But it is the reflective properties of the white marl soils that help maintain consistent ripening. ”While all vignerons talk about soil,” says Jean-Charles, ”we don’t talk enough about light.” Indeed, one cannot argue with the almost luminous element that is imbued throughout this marvelously complex wine.
Each parcel offers unique qualities to the final assemblage. In the upper slopes of the vineyard, the limestone, marl and clay soils impart a floral elegance to the wine, while the limestone and iron topsoils of the plots below lend body and ripeness. The Corton Charlemagne from Bonneau du Martray is a beautiful expression of pedigree that also offers intellectual charm. These wines marry piercing acidity with stunning precision in a manner that is entirely unique and therefore utterly compelling.
|Domaine Bonneau du Martray is recognized as one of the world’s great wine estates and a reference point for its appellation. The rich history of its vineyards traces directly back to the Emperor Charlemagne himself, who once owned a plot that is now part of the Domaine. Legend has it that Charlemagne had a preference for red wine which often stained his flowing white beard. His queen suggested that this was beneath him and that he should drink only white wine, upon which he demanded that his vineyards be planted over to white grapes. Charlemagne donated his plot to the Abbey de Saulieu in 775 and the church retained it for over a thousand years until the French Revolution when it was acquired by the Bonneau du Martray family, descendants of Chancellor Nicolas Rolin, who had founded of the Hospice de Beaune in 1443.
In the 19th Century, the Bonneau du Martray family held almost 59.3 acres of vines including the entirety of the Charlemagne ‘climat’ in the commune of Pernand. Eventually the childless Rene Bonneau de Martray, born in 1886, bequeathed his estate to his niece, Alice le Bault de la Moriniere. It was her husband Jean, taking over its management in 1969, who initiated the renaissance of the property - expanding and modernizing the cuverie and cellars, and beginning to bottle his wine at the estate instead of selling to negociants. In 1994, his son Jean-Charles assumed responsibility for the Domaine and returned to Burgundy to study oenology, leaving a career as an architect in Paris. At the same time, Henri Bruchon the Chef Vigneron retired. His sons Bernard and Jean-Pierre now work with Jean-Charles.