For almost three hundred years, Clos Marey-Monge has been constantly surrounded by love. When Nicolas-Joseph Marey, son of wine merchants Claude and Lenoir Marey, and Émilie Monge, daughter of French mathematician Gaspard Monge and comtesse Catherine Nugues, fell in love in Pommard in 1793, their adoration for each other became as fierce as their love of Clos Marey-Monge. It was this Pommardian power couple whose smart insights helped retain ownership of the vines of Pommard throughout the French Revolution and it was they who constructed the 6,000ft-long stone wall that now protects Clos Marey-Monge, home of seven terroir and one of Burgundy’s UNESCO-protected climats.
To celebrate Valentine as only a saint of his stature deserves, let’s delve a bit deeper into local history and learn a little bit more about these two iconic lovebirds of Pommard.
An elegant union of Clos Marey-Monge’s seven cherished terroir, our acclaimed Clos Marey-Monge Monopole, one of the purest expressions of Pinot Noir (see Reviews), takes its name from the celebrated union of two families and two prominent figures of Burgundy – Nicolas-Joseph Marey and Émilie Monge.
Their everlasting love personifies not only our modern day philosophy at the Château, it also embodies our all-natural winemaking techniques: Nothing but love, sweat and passion goes into our wines.
Yes, Nicolas-Joseph and Émilie’s famous devotion for one other ignited a passion for love, life and wine that resonates to this day at Château de Pommard. Their unison created a dynasty that would strengthen and bind the roots of the vines in Pommard for generations to come. Today, we celebrate their bond everyday by asking our guests “to fall in love with life” as much as Nicolas-Joseph and Émilie did two centuries ago. It’s not an original thought. We’re merely paying tribute to our heritage.
As two of the most important heroes in Chateau de Pommard’s story (so far), Nicolas-Joseph Marey (1760–1818) and Jeanne Charlotte Émilie Monge (1778–1867) were renowned for their strong personalities and their passion for winemaking in Pommard – traits they received from their pre-eminent and prominent parents, members of the Burgundy winemaking elite.
As part of our ongoing treasure hunt to fill our history archives, recently we unearthed private letters between Nicolas-Joseph and Émilie that prove how bonded they were in love during their lifetime together. Often separated by Nicolas-Joseph’s government work in a foreign field, the couples’ love letters often spoke of “soothing their hearts when separated,” by discussing the hard work to be done among the vines. The love of their land connected them, despite any distance. “I took her into the bosom of my family,” Nicolas-Joseph once wrote, “and she received the tribute of praises that she deserves.”
In another letter, Émilie declared her love for her husband and their shared home: “One is easily happily anywhere when one has the happiness of being in one’s household. As for all this, all my wishes have been realized, and my husband is still the same in my eyes.” It’s not difficult to understand why Nicolas-Joseph and Émilie had eight children together. They were both possessed by passion and besotted with each other.
The youngest of three sons, Nicolas-Joseph Marey, or Marey le Jeune, as he was known locally, was born into a bourgeois lifestyle. His father, Claude Marey, a wine merchant, is today celebrated as the pioneer of the modern Burgundy wine trade.
Following his father’s death in 1770, Nicolas-Joseph, a meticulous man with eyes wide open to modernity, was the only Marey passionate enough to preside over the destiny of his father’s patrimony. Unequivocally, wine coursed through Nicolas-Joseph’s veins: it was in his blood.
In June 1795, Nicolas-Joseph Marey married Émilie in Pommard’s chapel. In his wife, Nicolas-Joseph had found his mirror image. They shared their love of Pommard with the world. However, Nicolas-Joseph and Émilie’s deep devotion to their estate and vineyards would suffer the challenges of a nation being ripped apart.
In 1789, on the eve of the French Revolution, the Marey family owned more than 160 plots of vines across Pommard, Vosne-Romanée (Richebourg and Échezeaux) and Chambolle (Bonnes-Mares), wines that we now produce as part of our Family selection of wines. Following the rise of the Great Fear, which preceded the infamous Reign of Terror, many Burgundy Château – a symbol of French nobility – were set ablaze by Revolutionists. One such incident, down the road in Vitteaux, resulted in the brutal death of a nobleman. This was, indeed, tough times, for members of the French aristocracy.
Fearing for his family’s life, Nicolas-Joseph sold Château Micault for 25,000 francs. Shrewdly, he kept possession of the vines and the winemaking outbuildings. His firm understanding of the Revolution, allowed his family’s land to remain untouched throughout the chaos of the Revolution.
Once Napoleon Bonaparte, a family friend of the Marey-Monge’s, was installed as French Emperor, and a quieter life in France resumed, Nicolas-Joseph was hoped to reunite Château Micault, the first house of his family’s estate, with his vineyards. His offers were constantly rejected, despite offering 100,000 francs, four times what he sold it for, to the owner, Agathe Rose Dambrun.
But Nicolas-Joseph’s passion for his Pommard vineyard was limitless. So, instead of moving away and rebuilding his life in one of his family’s other appellations, the passionate winemaker and his wife decided simply to build a new Château 100-meters away from the old one. The year was 1802.
Château Marey-Monge, as it has become known in recent years, emerges in front of the Chantrerie plot, was designed in the early 1800s by Parisian architect Jean-Nicolas-Louis Durand, a teacher at Nicolas-Joseph’s father-in-law’s, Gaspard Monge, famed Ecolé Polytechnique, Paris.
The architecture of the Château reflects the principles and modern personalities of Nicolas-Joseph and Émilie. There are no sculptures, no superfluous ornaments: just pure functionality and down-to-earth modesty, respecting the purest traditions of Burgundian common sense.
Hidden by a grove of cedars and redwoods, the construction of the five-storey Château Marey Monge was completed in 1812. It was at this time that Nicolas-Joseph and Émilie also installed a two-meter-tall, 600ft-long surrounding fortress wall enclosing and protecting their 20-hectare vineyard. It is believed that Nicolas-Joseph offered any neighbor a new pair of boots, and soup, to build the wall, stone by stone. Though, this could just be a legend!
In 1818, Nicolas-Joseph died suddenly, aged 58. A devastated, but determined, woman, devoted to the Clos and her children, Émilie was thrust into the role of head of the Pommard estate, including the winemaking and the harvest.
A letter written in 1819, from Émilie’s sister to her grandson reveals Émilie’s situation: “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, Émilie exceeds expectations and expanded the estate’s size and wealth considerably after Nicolas-Joseph’s death.
Described as a noble, beautiful, kind, generous and spiritual women, with a good education, Émilie’s passionate character was also observed in more unearthed letters, written circa 1820: “Despite the marvels of the table and the wine,” the letters revealed, “what astonished me the most was the mistress of the house, the noble mother offering all the graces of physiognomy and the mind, all the charm of conversation, a kindness and a gaiety all the more attractive as they radiated from a great intelligence.”
Today, in the vineyards, we honor Nicolas-Joseph and Émilie unison with Clos Marey-Monge Monopole, our award-winning Clos wine, a blend of seven terroir of Clos Marey-Monge. By encouraging the independent personalities of each of Clos Marey-Monge’s terroir to come to fruition in just the right proportions, Emmanuel Sala, our winemaker, can assemble each terroir’s personality according to the vintage’s particularities and peculiarities. Like marriage, blending, our signature winemaking technique, is a lengthy and complex process, but one that culminates with a richer, more satisfying, wine that has a profound and increased elegance the longer it ages together.
To purchase a bottle, or to learn more, please Ask a Wine Advisor for more details, go here.
By official decree, on December 10, 1840, the eight children of Nicolas-Joseph Marey and Émilie Monge, were allowed to combine their names to create Marey-Monge. This blending would come to inspire the four future families of Pommard to ensure Clos Marey-Monge is forever surrounded by love and to promote a way of life that puts passion and purpose front and center of everything the estate does. Their inspiration is our aspiration.
So, as we celebrate Valentine’s Day on February 14th, let’s raise a glass to salute Nicolas-Joseph and Émilie Marey-Monge’s passion for life, family, wine and, of course, each other. Enjoy!