Wines by region / Burgundy / Côte de Beaune / Chassagne Montrachet / Domaine Bader Mimeur
Domaine Bader Mimeur and Château de Chasssagne-Montrachet
Chassagne-Montrachet, Côte d’Or
I usually don’t like going to trade shows in search of wineries. The environment is artificial, with producers in clean, pressed shirts tasting their wines behind a sterile, prefab stand—not to mention all the attendees milling around in search of a spit bucket or talking about their dinner the night before. I much prefer making the effort to go to the domaine when considering new producers; it is a much more time-consuming process, but ultimately one I find more rewarding.
The only large tasting that I do like is Les Grands Jours de Bourgogne, a celebration of wines from that region that takes place every 2 years. Strictly open to professionals and not a sales event per se, it is an amazing way to learn about the wines of Burgundy. It takes place over a week, with several tastings a day spread around the region. The morning might be Volnay, the afternoon Chambolle-Musigny and Morey-Saint-Denis. Another day might see tastings in Gevrey-Chambertin and Marsannay, and in the afternoon Nuits-Saint-Georges. It is in no way a flea market for wine like some other tastings around France, but rather a legitimate way to learn about the region’s complexities while tasting wines from some of its greatest producers. Where else can you taste 40 Corton Charlemagne over the course of a late afternoon? If you didn’t quite understand the appellation before attending this tasting, you damn well have a good idea afterwards.
I went to the Grands Jours in 2014 with the goal of learning more about Burgundy sur place. After tasting loads of wines from primarily the 2012 vintage, and saying hello to a few producers that I work with, I was ready to head off to the next tasting. Just before leaving, I noticed a girl standing on her own under the banner Bader-Mimeur. The name intrigued me, and I immediately thought of the Baader-Meinof revolutionary group of the 1970’s as I drifted over toward her table. Had they come back under another guise? Was the table about to explode? Were we safe?
I looked at the lineup. The labels on the Chassagne bottles were old school. Then I noticed the vintages; they were showing the 2009’s and 2008’s. “Damn,” I thought, “why were they so behind on their vintages?” Oh well, I was there so I asked to taste the 2008 Chassagne white. It had intense Chardonnay flavor with bright acids and good underlying minerality. Wow! I asked to try the other Chassagne bottling—two for two. Then I tried the Chassagne red—good Pinot flavor, judicious oak, well-integrated tannins. Man, they were on a roll! Working backwards, I tasted the Bourgogne Blanc and Rouge—rich, pure, delicious.
A few weeks later I was back in France and went to the winery late one afternoon. We were met by Alain Fossier, father of Nathalie, the young lady who had been pouring at the Grands Jours. He told us that the Bader-Mimeur family has owned and managed vines in and around Chassagne-Montrachet since the 1700’s. Charles Bader, a wine merchant at the Halle-aux-Vins in Paris, married Elise Mimeur in 1920. Her father, Charles Mimeur, owned the Domaine du Château de Chassagne-Montrachet. Because of a family division, the château (located next door) is now run by another producer who markets wines from many other regions of Burgundy. However, the Bader-Mimeur family owns and manages 98% of the vines of the Château de Chassagne-Montrachet as well as other vines located in the Chassagne-Montrachet and Saint-Aubin villages. Alain and his wife Marie-Pierre Bader-Fossier are in charge of the domaine while Jean-Luc Huguenin is the vineyard manager and maître du chai, in charge of making the wines.
The Château de Chassagne-Montrachet property totals 5.07 hectares (2.43 in Chardonnay and 2.54 in Pinot Noir), all located within the Chassagne-Montrachet producing area. Production totals about 33,000 bottles a year. The Bader-Mimeur family also owns 3.1 hectares of vines in addition to those of the château. With these grapes, they produce small lots of Bourgogne Aligoté, Bourgogne Chardonnay, Bourgogne Pinot Noir, St. Aubin Blanc En Remilly and Chassagne-Montrachet Vieilles Vignes. The family also has a very small negociant firm reserved for mainly French clients, with purchased wines from Pommard, Volnay, Meursault and Nuits-Saint-Georges, aged and bottled at the château. These are bought from producers that have comparable methods of growing vines and making wines.
One of the amazing things about this domaine is the placement of their vines. The accompanying maps show their Bourgogne Pinot and Chardonnay coming from just outside the Chassagne appellation, while their Chassagne plots lie within extreme proximity to both Batard-Montrachet and Chevalier-Montrachet. The vineyards are plowed and pruning is short. Grapes are all harvested by hand. Fermentation begins with a pied de cuve, and the wines are aged in barrel for approximately a year. Bottling is done after a light filtration.
Coming from a stony vineyard in the Les Pierres parcel, the grapes for this wine are harvested in September. While most Aligoté is has high acid and light body, this is bright yet rich, with layers of complexity that make it drink more like a Burgundy cru than something normally mixed with crème de cassis. Perfect with light fish preparations.
Bader-Mimeur Bourgogne Blanc “Dessous les Mues”
This amazing value comes from a parcel lying just outside—a stone’s throw away from—Chassagne-Montrachet. Bright, round and rich, with deep, mouth-filling flavors of exotic fruit and lively acids.
Bader-Mimeur Bourgogne Rouge
Like its white sibling, the Rouge comes from the Dessous les Mues parcel just outside Chassagne-Montrachet. Aromas of raspberry, tea leaf and cranberry, along with complex notes of menthol and forest floor. This wine has a velvety texture, and well-integrated tannins.
Bader-Mimeur Saint-Aubin 1er Cru “En Remilly”
Comes from the parcels La Montagne and La Clairière de la Montagne, right next to Chevalier-Montrachet. Rich, ripe and opulent, with tons of fruit and well-integrated oak. Big apple and exotic fruit notes, with some good palate-staining tannin.
Château de Chassagne Montrachet Chassagne Montrachet Blanc
These grapes are from the Château’s own parcels, and after being vinified are aged in oak barrels for 15 months. Notes of petrol and exotic citrus fruit, with good acidic tension and palate-staining flavors. Bright acids keep everything in balance.
Bader-Mimeur Chassagne-Montrachet Blanc Vieilles Vignes
This wine comes from 2 parcels in Chassagne-Montrachet, with an average age of 35 years. It is aged in French oak barrels (20% of which are new) for 15 months. Rich and round, with delicate apple and pear notes along with some excellent underlying minerality.
Grapes are purchased from a producer in Auxey-Duresses. This is an excellent example of village Meursault. Notes of exotic citrus, vanilla and petrol, with fine acids that push the big, ripe fruit.
Château de Chassagne Montrachet Chassagne Montrachet Rouge: From vines with an average age of 40-70 years planted on clay-limestone soils, this wine is aged 16-18 months in French oak barrels, of which 20% are new. Admirable ripeness with typical Pinot notes of cherry and red berries. Background structure still allows the fruit to take the starring role.