For centuries, dating back to the era of the Dukes of Burgundy, the Micaults, and the Marey-Monges, the co-ordinates of Clos Marey-Monge have long been adored by Burgundy lovers. Our ancient vineyard has laid deep roots in Pommard, roots that also stretch out throughout Burgundy. As we look to the future, we remain proud of this heritage. But we also look forward to putting down even deeper roots…
In 1349, a terrible rootstock blight known as the Maladie Noir ; a possible odium outbreak it is suspected ; destroyed almost all of the vines of the Côte d’Or, and most of the wine production in the process. Since that fateful year, Burgundy mythology has survived to tell us today that the only vines to survive this decimation were those planted up high in the hills behind the village of Pommard. It is from these indestructible vines that the rest of the Côte d’Or was replanted.
Headline: The aphid Phlloxera broke Burgundy news in 1879
If we choose to believe this perhaps too-good-to-be-true tale then Pommard’s roots in wine are the deepest in Burgundy. Indeed, for several hundred years, Pommard’s roots were the foundation of all Burgundy. Of course, the Phylloxera outbreak that arrived in the mid to late 1800s destroyed those original vines, and since then, most Burgundy rootstocks are actually American in origin. But, between the 12th and 19th century, when Pommard received the reputation for being “flower of Burgundy”, the wine by all others should be compared, the beacon for all of the Côte d’Or, it was because Pommard’s vines were what all of Burgundy’s wine production was built upon.
In the 1400’s, as the Micault family began rising to prominence in the region, and laying down their own roots in Pommard, the history books begin to tell us about – Straw Wine – a rosé coloured nectar that was produced by early winemakers in Pommard. The name, it is thought, derived from the process of drying the grapes on straw. All-but dying out in the 17th century, as peoples’ palates began appreciating fine Pommard Pinot Noir for the first time, as well as its commercial value on local tables – as exploited by our founder Vivant Micault and international wine trader Claude Marey, ‘Vin de Paille’ disappeared from production.
The earliest days of Pinot Noir in Pommard, however, were not the deep ruby red we know and love now. In fact, much of the Côte d’Or Pinot Noir in the 12th and 13th century was very light coloured due to the inclusion of one-quarter of the Pinot blanc grape. Now, of course all Pommard wine is 100 per cent Pinot Noir.
With its iconic, voluptuous ruby-red color, powerful aromas, smooth tannins, and solid full-bodiedness, red wine hailing from Pommard is the starting point for Pinot Noir in the Côte de Beaune, a stretch of 16 miles predominantly famed for its Chardonnay appellations, such as our friends and southern neighbours, Meursault and Puligny-Montrachet.
With the future of Burgundy at the front of our mind, let’s take a look at the deep roots of winemaking at Château de Pommard.
1962-2013: Three families, six decades, one wine
FAMILLE MAREY-MONGE WINEMAKING
The Other Brother: An incredibly rare Claude-Phillibert Marey-Monge’s Côte de Nuits label from 1801
Little is known of the precise winemaking methods used by the Marey-Monge family, in particular Nicolas-Joseph and Émilie Marey-Monge, who between them managed the premises for more than sixty years, the second longest-running husband and wife power couple in the estate’s history.
It is thanks to correspondence between Marie-Catherine Monge, Émilie’s mother, that we learn a fascinating insight into Nicolas-Joseph’s and Émilie’s winemaking practices during the mid-18th century and into the 19th centrury. In a letter dated 1811, Nicolas-Joseph wrote a letter to his mother-in-law, questioning the year’s vintage. “We bought brown sugar to awaken sad grapes. It’s not enough to cover the raw green and the flatness of the wine. We must take to the grocer what providence will not give us this year: fire and taste.”
Through these letters to Nicolas-Joseph and Émilie, we learn that Marie-Catherine, known in Pommard as Madame Monge was a noted Burgundy wine ambassador often sending bottles of Pommard to Paris for her friends to enjoy. After Nicolas-Joseph’s death in 1818, and for the final 30 years of her life, Marie-Catherine would spend all her final days in Pommard supporting her daughter with the harvest and winemaking.
All Over Burgundy: The Marey-Monge family owned vineyards all over Côte d’Or, including Vosne-Romanée, until the mid-1800s
“POOR AUNT MAREY”
In 1818, Nicolas-Joseph Marey-Monge died suddenly, aged 58. A devastated but determined woman, devoted to the Clos and her eight children ; Émilie resumes her work as the first female owner of the Pommard estate, including the winemaking and the harvest. A letter written from Émilie’s sister to her grandson, in 1819, reads: “Your poor Aunt Marey has a great deal to do, she must do the Pommard harvest alone. She will have some 300 casks of wine, what a worry for a woman!”
Despite her sister’s concerns, Èmilie exceeds expectations and expands Château de Pommard’s size and wealth considerably for 49 years, before she dies on the premises, at the age of 89.
De Blic: Another very rare label from Emmanuel de Blic’s (the son of Edith Marey-Monge) brief tenure at Château de Pommard
TEN MILLION STONES
The winemaking legacy of the Marey-Monge family is invaluable, of course. But while very few wine labels survive, and much winemaking knowledge and trivia has been lost to history, what has survived is our famous 2,000-meter, two-meter-tall, stone fortress wall. A standing tribute to Nicolas-Joseph’s savoir faire as both passionate winemaker and businessman. Our Clos wall protects the vines from wind, theft and the mesoclimate (the specific climate within Clos Marey-Monge).
Standing Tall: The Clos wall is currently being renovated. It’s 205 years old!
FAMILLE LAPLANCHE WINEMAKING
“As a psychoanalyst, I am completely familiar with heading out across already harvested land searching out for the fruit and unexpected treasures that have been previously overlooked.”
Jean Laplanche was always deeply connected to the soils and roots of Burgundy. He was born there, studied there, joined the Resistance there in 1943, inherited Château de Pommard in 1966, and from then on divided his working life between four days in Pommard and the remaining three teaching in Paris. By his side throughout, since 1950 at least, was Jean’s wife Nadine, the key component that ensured Jean enjoyed a healthy work-life balance. The pair were inseparable and were happily married for 60 years, until Nadine’s passing in 2010. While Jean was withdrawn and contemplative, as any good psychoanalyst should be, Nadine was sociable, stylish and fun.
A Must: A vintner friend of Monsieur Laplanche clears the foudre
It was during Louis Laplanche’s tenure that the Pommard’s AOC was created in 1936, one of the first villages to be designated AOC for red wine. In the 1960s, during Jean Laplanche’s tenure, Louis’ son, that three times more Pommard was shipped to the US than any other appellation. Even in the UK, Pommard wine came close to matching Nuits-Saint-Georges as the importer’s favorite. In the Laplanche’s tenure of stewards of Château de Pommard, first with Louis and Albertine Laplanche ; and then from 1944, with Jean and Nadine, the family led the charge with many changes to the winemaking. Before the “Grand Vin” era of Famille Giraud, Jean and Nadine Laplanche produced two wines from their 20-hectare vineyard – Château de Pommard and Clos du Château de Pommard.
Due to Jean Laplanche’s fame as one of the world’s most famous psychoanalysts, starting from the mid-1960s with the publication of his first book, the wine made at Château de Pommard was highly prized as the “only wine in the world grown and bottled by an old disciple of Jacques Lacan’s.”
Cuverie: A wooden fermentation vat in our cuverie in the 1990s
VINE AGE = VINTAGE
With a preference for wood-barrel fermenting vats ; “Vinification must take place in oak controlled temperatures,” Jean wrote ; and employing six vintner friends to assist Jean during the year with maintenance of Clos Marey-Monge, or Clos de la 18 Hectares as it was known during the Laplanche’s ownership. Jean Laplanche paid particular attention to the age of the vines in the vineyard. He was personally overseeing the replanting of the Paules Vielles plot in 1942 ; the 75 Rangs plot in 1962 and the Grand Champs plot in 1982 – every 20 years, to the year. “It is essential that I save the feet of the vines!” he said. “I have many 60 year old vines. The quintessence of Pommard is expressed by the old vines, which bring out the best of Pinot Noir.” For Jean, age meant wisdom.
Having played in the vineyard as a 12-year-old boy Jean Laplanche would have had a personal connection with every vine, every terroir, every rock. For every vintage, the success of the cuvée produced from each terroir is down to the grapes, however. “Since 1975 I have collected two sorts of grapes,” Jean said. “The harvesters have two baskets, one for the fully ripened grapes and the other for the slightly damaged. Even if it is a very bad year, I still make multiple cuvées of the 100 per cent best grapes. The wine is robust and concentrated like a Pommard wine should be. I am in love with quality.”
Like winemaker Emmanuel Sala today, Jean Laplanche’s blending process was not guided by a rule book, or a magic formula. It was based on intuition, history, experience, savoir faire and knowing the intimate details of the vintage and allowing to be guided by the peculiarities, not control them. “I go into the kitchen with my wife,” Jean said of his blending process. “I spread out all the samples of terroirs on the marble. We taste and create the blends right there before bottling. I make wine in a style connected to mankind. I make tannic wines, with long finishes, and a fermentation of three weeks. The wine only truly becomes my child after seven years.”
WHAT’S IN A NAME?
It was common practice for Jean and Nadine Laplanche to distribute the vineyard’s wine under two different names, for various reasons. Wine would often be sold with a Château de Pommard label or a Clos du Château de Pommard. The latter would be made of the younger vines, and the former of the older vines. It all depended on the vintage and how truly exceptional the grapes had been. “On average, 35–40 per cent of the wine produced receives the Château’s label,” Jean said. “But in 1994, for example, I only put Château labels on 6,000 bottles out of close to 100,000. Yet in other years I produced 40,000 to 50,000 bottles of Chateau de Pommard.”
1941: War-time Château de Pommard wine label. Very rare
Spot the Name Change: A Laplanche-era label, circa 1950s
In the early 2000s, before selling the property to the Giraud family ; one of Jean and Nadine’s last acting powers regarding the winemaking at Château de Pommard was to appoint Philippe Charlopin, from Gevrey-Chambertin, in charge of the vineyard. It was Philippe who would go on to develop the famous “Grand Vin” of Château de Pommard ; the wine which resurrected the estate’s fortunes.
In a press release in 2002, the Laplanches, who had no children, explained that they didn’t want their estate to be subjected to the whims of sales or split-ups. We prefer instead to work out the future fate of the domaine while we are still alive,” Nadine Laplanche wrote. Under the arrangement with the Maurice Giraud, Jean and Nadine Laplanche will see out their days at Château Marey-Monge and will make wine for at least a few more years. “We are very sentimental about this estate. It is our child, and we wanted the estate to be properly managed after we die,” said Nadine Laplanche.
Harvesting: Jean Laplanche outside the Cuverie during Vendanges
Jean’s roots became forever entwined with his childhood home when on May 6th 2012 the winemaker-psychoanalyst died in Beaune Hospital. A few days later, Jean’s funeral was held at the Church of Pommard, just over the road from his beloved Château Marey-Monge. “He was an outstanding winegrower,” said renowned Pommard and Volnay winemaker Hubert De Montille, of Domaine Montille, of his friend, Jean.
1962: With Château Marey-Monge at the centre, before the two châteaux of the estate were reunited
FAMILLE GIRAUD WINEMAKING
“I find it fascinating to listen to the vineyard. To observe and to understand that iti s nature, in harmony with the hand of man, which gives birth to this wonderful nectar we call wine.
Shortly after acquiring the estate from Jean Laplanche ; even though Jean and Nadine continued to live in Château Marey-Monge until their deaths ; Maurice Giraud swiftly began the complex and costly renovations of the entire premises. It included the introducing modern winemaking innovations and new facilities. Before hiring winemaker Emmanuel Sala in 2007, in early 2004, Maurice Giraud relied on Jean Laplanche’s right hand man Philippe Charlopin, as winemaker.
THE MAN FROM GEVREY-CHAMBERTIN
For Laplanche, Charlopin’s duty was to push Château de Pommard wine into the 21st century. “When I met Philippe Charlopin ; a great winegrower who is famous in the viticultural world ; in Beaune for the first time, I knew that this man with his resolute character would be indispensable companion if Château de Pommard were to succeed,” said Maurice. “His innate talents and boundless passion for wine would be the driving elements for a “Château de Pommard d’Exception wine”. With him by my side, I am convinced that we will obtain Wine of Excellent Quality. Its emblem will be the summit of Mont Blanc, which is recognised all over the world for its grace, its brilliance and its mysteries. That is when Château de Pommard will rediscover its former glory!
Winemaker d’Extraordinaire: Mr Philippe Charlopin
For many years, the Laplanche family had, it was believed, carried out harvest too early. They employed no sorting table and held a maceration period that was too long. In addition to that, they used poor quality wooden fermentation casks. Under the expert eyes of Philippe Charlopin ; it was clear that during the last few vintages of Mr Laplanche’s life, the reputation of the wine had become “hard and rustic”. “Château de Pommard was a diamond that just needed to be polished,” Maurice said in 2003. “For a century, little restoration had been done. It was a Sleeping Beauty waiting to come back to life.”
Grand Vin: Mr Giraud’s Grand Vin of Château de Pommard in the grandma bottle
Thankfully, the Giraud family’s commitment to the Clos, in unison with Emmanuel Sala’s appointment, turned everything around. “I wanted to develop a grand vin of Burgundy, a voluptuous and expressive wine ; as great as the historical walls that watch it grow every year,” said Maurice Giraud. He spent two years studying wine retraining to become a wine expert. Maurice Giraud had firm designs on remaking Château de Pommard the greatest wine producer in Burgundy again ; as well as transforming the estate into the No.1 wine tourism location in France. “It’s complete madness to allow one’s wine to be sold by strangers,” Maurice said, “and not to share this outstanding cultural heritage too.”
The man tasked with the immense pressure to put Château de Pommard’s wine back on the map. The Giraud family’s shrewd decision in appointing Emmanuel Sala as technical director, and head winemaker, has worked wonders. An insightful winemaker, and native Burgundian, Emmanuel’s tenure has yielded the finest wines ever made in the history of the estate. His philosophy: “Elevate the vintage, listen to nature and never upset the natural balance. In 2016, Emmanuel celebrated his tenth vintage with Château de Pommard – and it was definitely one to remember!
Mr Sala: Harvest 2016 – Emmanuel’s tenth Pommard vintage
SCIENCE MEETS SAVOIR FAIRE
Maurice Giraud was committed to boosting the appeal of Château de Pommard’s wine on an international scale. He employed Claude and Lydia Bourguignon. They are pedologists and founders of the Laboratory of Microbiological Analysis of Soil (LMAS). They were meant to conduct chemical and biological tests on Clos Marey-Monge’s soils. Their results confirmed that two of the Clos’ plots, Simone and Chantrerie, have one of the highest levels of clay density on record in Burgundy. Similar levels have been found only in two grand crus: Richebourg and Musigny. Suddenly Emmanuel Sala’s intuition was confirmed by science, a fact based on evidence as well as savoir faire. Thanks to these results, the winemaking team at Château de Pommard has put Clos Marey-Monge under the microscope even more… Hiring “wine scientists” to deploy shockwave tests and geological reports to search even deeper into the vineyards history and quality.
“My parents treasured every moment as if it were a gift, even when times were hard. It explains now my distinctive determination, patience, perseverance and tenacity ; which allowed me, even at the age of 62, to have the streak of a romantic lead, generous, energetic, courageous enough ; to buy Château de Pommard and ambitious enough to turn it into the flagship of Burgundy.”
FAMILLE CARABELLO-BAUM WINEMAKING
“The personality that each climat reveals guides me in precisely defining its role, and therefore its amount, in the blended wine that you will one day drink ; some form the backbone, others the flesh, and others bring the spirit.”
In 2014, the Carabello-Baum purchased Château de Pommard. The change of hands between the Giraud family and these new stewards from California ignited the flames of winemaking change. More innovation has been implemented in the past three years than in the last thirty years. A truth we are now incredibly proud of. And more exciting renovations are to follow in the next few years too. A new cuverie, new bottle, new labels, new website, new Wine Experiences, new team members, new motto, new attitude – all coming soon in 2017.
But what about the winemaking?
Where to start.
On Saturday July 4th 2015, the World Heritage Committee added the Climats of Burgundy to the UNESCO World Heritage List for possessing Outstanding Universal Value.
Within the first few months into the Carabello-Baum era ; the family became a Grand Sponsor of the UNESCO protected heritage status awarded in 2015. Since Vivant Micault first began developing and expanding his winemaking empire here in 1726, the history of Pommard has been linked to the climats, winemakers and winemaking of Burgundy. It was a honor to be involved, but also fitting way to start the Carabello-Baum family’s guardianship. Fusing Burgundy history with its future to achieve something with purpose in the present. For Michael Baum it is his proudest moment to date as proprietor, the moment when Burgundy’s “We were tremendously proud for all the people of Burgundy that together we have achieved this amazing feat. UNESCO will help attract additional epicureans from around the world to visit this very special place on earth,” Michael said.
UNESCO: Michael and Aubert du Villaine talk shop in the Zoom Room (as we call it)
To reconnect the Clos with its ancient roots, the Carabello-Baum family, alongside winemaker Emmanuel, begin Clos Marey-Monge’s conversion to biodynamic winemaking. In collaboration with oenologist and agronomic specialist, Antoine Lepetit de la Bigne, the full conversion is underway and due for completion in 2019. The first organic vintage will be available in 2022. “The team here cannot wait to begin this new chapter in the Clos’ already distinguished history and we look forward to producing some truly outstanding biodynamic wines in the near-future,” says Emmanuel Sala.
Planted between 1949 and 1954, the Émilie plot had been the backbone of our wine’s spirit for more than 60 years. In 2016, Emmanuel made the decision to pull out and replant the vines of Émilie. This will help regenerate and protect the Clos for future generations. The original clone selected for the Émilie plot was not optimal for the clay, moisture and drainage in that part of the Clos. A new root stock has been selected and replanting will begin in the spring of 2017. With two year old vines being planted, it is expected that the new vines will yield fruit for our Vivant Micault cuvée around 2022.
In 2015, Château de Pommard accomplished another first, bottling 250 bottles of each of the five distinct terroirs within the Clos Marey-Monge. The objective is to study viticulture, winemaking and aging of the different components of the clos. The wine library also provides a unique opportunity over time to produce small quantities of single terroir wines.
Ever since Dr Jules Lavelle’s 1855 ranking of Clos Marey-Monge as a premiere cuvée ; we’ve always known our wines to be worthy of prestigious awards. In 2016, we are delighted that our Clos Marey-Monge 2012 and 2013 vintages won bronze and silver ; respectively, at the 2016 Decanter World Wine Awards. A major achievement for the Carabello-Baum in their first year of production. March 2016 saw wine magazine The World of Fine Wine review the Carabello-Baum family’s first vintage as owners ; Clos Marey-Monge Monopole 2014 – scoring it 91/100.
“From his intimate knowledge of the many parcels on the property, winemaker Emmanuel Sala can craft a very complex and compelling expression of it,” concluded wine authority, Neil Beckett. This year saw the change of pruning style from the Guyot method to Poussard. The Poussard method of pruning encourages the plant to follow the natural curvature of the vine.
Our newest recruit, Burgundian winemaker Sophie Petijean is appointed Assistant Viticulturist by Emmanuel Sala in 2016. Sophie will work among the vines with Samuel Grivaux. He us Château de Pommard’s most experienced member of the team, having worked in Clos Marey-Monge for more than 20 years. We’re proud to have such young, passionate and dedicated winemakers such as Sophie in charge of the vineyard.
Future of Pommard: Sophie where she loves to be – in Clos Marey-Monge
For three hundred years, Château de Pommard has been evolving. The winemaking empire that began with a bang in Vivant’s house back in 1726 has not stood still or simply sat back and relaxed. (We leave that to our visitors.) Château de Pommard miraculously survived the French revolution. It was a backdrop for two World Wars and endured the Great Wine Blight of the 1850s. Not because it moved in synch with time ; but because the families who protected the land knew that in order to survive they had to think ahead of their time.
As Château de Pommard kickstarts its next century of breathing vitality into Burgundy, we are proud to repeat our unique history over and over again. After all, it’s a history that has taught us to always look forward to the future and think, “What next?”
Michael and Manu: Pommard’s proprietor and winemaker toast 2017 – a year to remember!