OLIVIER MERLIN BOURGOGNE ROUGE 2017
Though the Mâcon is best known for its excellent whites, we were pleased to try Olivier’s Bourgogne Rouge. The Mâcon is peculiar within Burgundy in that it is more likely to come across reds made from Gamay–long banished in the heart of Burgundy–than Pinot Noir. Indeed, as the Mâcon is not far from the Beaujolais, this makes sense. Olivier even makes a sole Beaujolais, a Moulin à Vent. Yet, there is something special and joyful about Pinot from the Mâcon. Reds from the North, from entry-level to Grand Cru, all take themselves very seriously. Everyone in the Côte d’Or, it seems, is trying to make a Bourgogne that tastes a bit like their Chambertin. In the Mâcon, though, vignerons are used to making great Gamay–simple, fruity, thirst-quenching. The result is one of the few Bourgogne Rouges I’ve come across that I’d consider an everyday red–no pretense to be found. It’s all about its fresh, vibrant Pinot fruit, with a subtle southern sensibility.
Olivier’s Pinot is planted in a westward facing vineyard that is dominant whose soils are dominated by both limestone and clay. Fruit from this vineyard, as with all, is hand- picked and sorted, before being completely destemmed before fermentation. Aging occurs both in large foudre and small barrels, all of which is at least one year old. The result is a bright and vivacious Bourgogne Rouge, with notes of bing cherry, orange zest, black pepper, and damp earth. It is among the most versatile of the style we’ve come across, as it could be chilled down and drunk with burgers, but also impress with a more indulgent meal.