I was introduced to the wines of Domaine Michel Prunier & Fille on my first night in Burgundy. Exhausted as we were after what seemed like an eternity of planes, trains, and buses, we toasted our arrival with a couple of bottles of Prunier Cremant de Bourgogne. The cremant was creamy and delicious. I didn’t take any notes on this first night because, after being awake for over 36 hours straight, I don’t think I could have held a pen – holding a wine glass; however, was no problem. I preferred to drink the cremant on its own, while a few of the others in our group liked it mixed with cassis, making it a Kir Royale.
A few days after we arrived in Burgundy, we went to the tiny village of Auxey-Duresses to visit the caves of Domaine Michel Prunier & Fille. Driving through the village we noticed the ‘Prunier’ name on many of the buildings. It seems that Michel and his relations own much of the town. Clive Coates M.W., in his book “Cote d’Or: A Celebration of the Great Wines of Burgundy”, calls Michel Prunier the best grower in Auxey-Duresses. Michel’s very young looking daughter now works with him, so he has added ‘& Fille’ to the Domaine’s name.
Michel is very passionate about his wines and his caves and personally gave us a complete tour of his entire facility. The caves are 350 years old and are quite amazing as you can see by the photos.
His white wines are aged for about 1 year or less in oak and the reds are aged from between 12 and 18 months. All the oak used for the barrels is from the famous Vosges and Limosin forests. Michel explained that the the Vosges oak is more dense and imparts more tannins to the wine while the Limosin oak is softer and imparts more vanilla flavours. He uses the barrels for 10 to 12 years. They only impart flavour for the first 3 years and after that they are used only for storage. M. Prunier currently has about 250 barrels in his caves and he buys 30% new every year.
M. Prunier controls about 12 hectares of vines parcels in several different communes which he farms, for the most part, orgainically. He makes a range of still white and red wines, as well as tiny amount of Cremant de Bourgogne. His very small production of sparkling wine allows him to continue to do remuage by hand. There was not a gyropalette to be seen.
Auxey-Duresses 2005 Blanc: aromas of lemon citrus, acacia and floral notes. Zippy acidity, a round body and a medium length were evident on the palate. A very pleasant but relatively simple wine. This wine was aged for 6 months in old oak barrels.
Auxey-Duresses Old Vines 2007 Blanc: The vines are 75 years old and this wine was barrel fermented and aged in 15% new oak. This wine shows more pronounced aromas of vanilla, spice, white flowers, pineapple, and citrus. A very silky texture with toasty vanilla notes indicating much more oak influence. Very nice.
Mersault 2007 Blanc: A complex nose of vanilla, caramel, spice, almond, and mineral. A beautifully creamy texture with flavours of almond, vanilla, and spice with a buttery finish. Delicious! Estimated maturity is 2012.
Chorey-les-Beaune 2006: Fruity aromas of cherry, strawberry, and red currant dominate the nose. It’s light in body and displays flavours of cranberry, cherry, and red licorice with a medium length. Pleasant and quaffable. Drink now.
Auxey-Duresses 2007: This wine shows more earthy aromas of mineral and rich soil, with cherry and red currant fruit. On the palate the tannins are noticeably higher than the previous red with lots of red berry flavours and mineral. This wine has the capability to age a few years.
Auxey-Duresses 1er Cru 2005: There was a distinct aroma of sulphur when this wine was first poured, but it blew off after a few minutes. The wine shows aromas of red berry fruit and spice. It’s medium bodied with concentrated red berry fruit flavours and a very silky texture with a long finish. M. Prunier claims this wine will age well for 20 years.
Pommard Les Vignots 2006: A very pretty nose showing red raspberries, cranberries, and pink blossoms. This wine displays a silky texture and soft tannins with flavours of cranberries and other red berries. Yummy. I brought a bottle home with me.
Volnay 1er Cru Les Caillerets 2006: Intense black cherry, red cherry, red berry, and violet aromas. Smooth in texture, complex, and balanced. This wine is delicious! Slightly fuller-bodied with bigger tannins and a very long length. I brought one of these home too.
England used to be Domaine Michel Prunier & Fille’s top customer, but it seems that now Canada is. It’s doubtful you’ll find any Prunier wines at LCBO stores but Le Sommelier Inc at http://www.lesommelier.com does carry some. If you live in Ontario, check out their website and contact them if you’re interested.