Wine people are sometimes accused of being stuffy and serious, but that’s never a charge you’d throw at Nicolas Mestre of Domaine Michelot in Burgundy. As the sixth generation of this family business, he started working with his father and aunt on the 17 hectare estate in 2009. Having spent time in the vineyards, the winery and now on the commercial side, he is well placed to give us the lowdown on Domaine Michelot and the latest from Burgundy…
How would you describe Domaine Michelot and your wines?
We are bon vivants! This is a domaine that brings everything back to food and fun. We make classic Meursault, but with a modern twist. We were one of the first domaines to start using larger barrels again about ten years ago. They give that lighter style, which I love.
What is your philosophy?
To give people pleasure by creating great wines, but wines that everyone can enjoy. Our wines are wines that people should turn to for celebrations.
Our old wines used to be bigger in style, when we used more oak, but in recent years we have reduced the amount of new oak we use. These days we use more big barrels. 30% of the wine spends time in big barrels (500 litre barrels) and 70% in smaller 228 litre barrels. Then the wine goes into stainless steel tanks for four to six months. My grandfather didn’t have the space to do take this approach, but we have more room now which has allowed us to create what we feel is a more refined style.
Terroir is very important. We try to respect the terroir. We also want a very fresh style – rich but refreshing. So we do the harvest early to keep this freshness.
Talk us through your wines – what do you aim to achieve with each of them?
Our Bourgogne Blanc, which is in screwcap, is great for an aperitif. For someone who has not tried Burgundy before, it is a great introduction.
Meursault Villages – this is very small parcel of land, so we make one cuvée. It is a great introduction to Meusault and, for me, a very good match with seafood.
Les Grands Charrons is the most mineral of the Meursault Villages; it has some salinity, iodine and flinty notes. On the palate, it has lots of energy, it’s explosive! This is one of my favourite terroirs. Again, it is great with fish and seafood. When you open it, you sense a bit the sea because of those iodine notes. On the nose, it feels a bit brioche, a light honey.
Meursault Charmes – the rocks in the area are flat, so the roots weave around to find water. So you get a very mineral wine. Charmes is a great starting point for someone wanting to discover Premier Cru wines and this wine certainly needs time to develop. After eight years, it really starts to come into its own.
What is your favourite vintage to drink right now?
2010 is my favourite vintage. There is very good balance, the wines are very fresh. You can really smell and taste the difference between the terroirs too. We don’t have any more of this at the winery, so it is great to taste them again here in London!
2010 was a good year, although production was relatively low. Harvest started 18th September and ran until 23 September, so it was quite late and as a result the wines have a certain freshness.
How will 2015 be?
I think it will be a great year. For the previous years, we only had half harvests. So finally in 2015, we had a great harvest, particularly on the whites. Spring and summer were magnificent, very little rain and harvest began on 29th August. The wines are already mature, full of energy and the sense of terroir is very strong. There wasn’t much rain throughout the year, so the vines had to go deep, so you really feel that sense of terroir.
Who has been your greatest inspiration?
Both my father and grandfather have been huge inspirations for me. In school you learn the basics, but it was working with my father that taught me everything.
What does it mean for Domaine Michelot to have six generations?
We have a responsibility to the heritage of the company. In the 60s, we started to really help drive the reputation of Meusault. It is important for us to keep that reputation. We did lots of publicity, welcomed people to the cellar door and we continued to modernise during the 1980s. These days, we keep the same spirit but use new techniques – i.e. biological techniques and minimum intervention – and keep modernising.
What does the future hold?
I want us to create wines that I like, wines with energy that are expressive. We will continue to modernise. We are starting to move towards screwcap for some of our wines and that helps with the ageing. It keeps the wine fresh and we can be sure of the quality from one bottle to another.