Background Information

Editor's Note by Don Cornwell: Le Moine's winemaker Mounir Saouma takes a completely different approach from most in trying to avoid premature oxidation.

While Mounir is a negociant who receives the wines after the primary alcohlic fermentation is completed, he has a lot input/control on how the wines are handled prior to receipt by him. Mounir believes that many burgundies are suffering from premox because the producers very gently press their wines with their modern pneumatic presses, which results in much lower levels of phenols in the juice. There is good support in the literature that reduced phenol labels will reduce the oxidation buffer and render wines more readily subject to oxidation. Mounir believes in pressing his wines firmly enough to extract the proper levels of phenols. Mounir also pursues a completely reductive winemaking style. The wines are placed in barrel with a good quantity of fine lees. Mounir does not do any racking of the wines, which is virtually unheard of, and he engages in no pumping, no fining, no filtering and does gravity bottling. The wines are left on their fine lees and batonnage is usually accomplished by means of injecting CO2 gas rather than opening and stirring, in order to preserve the CO2 blanket undisturbed. A high level of CO2 is maintained in the barrel after the malo-lactic fermentation is completed. The wines are bottled with 1000 ml of CO2 gas, which is more than double the average concentration of CO2 (typically 400 m-500 ml). Mounir believes that adequate levels of phenols from the outset, along with the high level of CO2, reductive winemaking techniques and lack of exposure to oxygen during the elevage will make the wines more long-lived than those made with more traditional techniques.

On February 28, 2013 Mounir emailed me additional details about his winemaking, stating the following:
"here we work as following: a lot of lees, both alcoholic and malo in barrel WITHOUT RACKING for 24 months, no sulfur before 18 months of aging, bottling with more than 1000 mg of CO2 (Average for others is around 400 ) and Only 15/20 mg of SO2 (norm today is 50 ) Our wines are different. They are very deep colored at bottling...."

I've expressed to Mounir my opinions that CO2 is not a substitute chemically for SO2, that CO2 does nothing to prevent the oxidation of ethanol or phenols once the wine is in the bottle, and that by adding no sulfites until bottling and bottling with only 15 to 20 ppm of S02 his wines are virtually guaranteed to become prematurely oxidized.

[Alex Hunt] In November 2009 I had the good fortune to experience the result of one of Mounir's early experiments into the effects of presses on wines' evolution. We were given two white wines blind, both clearly with some age, one of which was fresh and vibrant, while the other was flat and broad. It turned out they were the same Monthelie blanc, 2003 vintage, bottled without SO2, sealed under screwcap, vinified identically except that one barrel was screw-pressed, the other bladder-pressed. In 2003, there was a domaine in Monthelie that was changing presses, and the enterprising Mounir took the opportunity to use both. The screw-pressed wine was without doubt the superior.

Wines

2001

  • Meursault Genevrieres (Oct 2010): 6 bottles, one slightly oxidized, the other 5 were fabulous [R Younger]

2002

  • Corton Charlemagne (Feb 2010): not oxidized, the stellar standout in a horizontal of Grand Cru 2002 white burgs, fabulous [R Younger]
  • Corton Charlemagne (June 2011):not oxidized, fabulous [R Younger]
  • Corton Charlemagne (Sept 2011): not oxidized, great [R Younger]
  • Corton Charlemagne (May 2012): not oxidized and terrific [R Younger]
  • Corton Charlemagne (Oct 2012): not oxidized-easily bested 8 2002 GC whites at a tasting [R Younger]
  • Corton Charlemagne (Nov 2013):not oxidized, fabulous [R Younger]
  • Corton Charlemagne (Sept 2014): not oxidized, terrific [R Younger]
  • Mersault Perrieres, Corton Charlemagne, Montrachet (On release 2005): Good wines, the Perrieres not bad, the C/C and Montrachet very classy. [P Hanna]
  • Mersault Perrieres (Dec 2008): Advanced, but still drinkable. Just OK. [P Hanna]
  • Corton Charlemagne (Sep 2009): Oxidized, pretty much sherry and undrinkable. [P Hanna]
  • Corton Charlemagne (Nov 2009): Very advanced, but still drinkable, just not good though. [P Hanna]
  • Montrachet (Feb 2010): Oxidized, dead on the palate, and undrinkable. A real shame. [P Hanna]

2004

  • Montrachet (7 March 2012): Very advanced color and aromas, flavors okay for immediate consumption. Drink up. See the 2004 Vintage Assessment Dinner Notes. [Don Cornwell]

2005

  • Batard Montrachet (20 Feb 2013): Totally oxidized. See the 2005 Vintage Assessment Notes. [Don Cornwell]
  • Batard Montrachet (23 Oct 2015) Sherry like, oxidised. [S Whitaker]
  • Corton blanc (Nov 2013): Oxidized [MLT]
  • Corton Charlemagne (5 Feb 2013): Mature wine but with notable alcohol on the finish. See the 2005 Vintage Assessment Notes. [Don Cornwell]
  • Meursault Perrieres (5 Feb 2013): clearly advanced with odd spice cake aromas. See the 2005 Vintage Assessment Notes. [Don Cornwell]
  • Montrachet (27 Feb 2013): Oxidized. See the 2005 Vintage Assessment Notes. [Don Cornwell]
  • Chassagne Montrachet Morgeot ( April 2017) severely reduced, sulphur would not blow off, but no pre mox!![b.henry]

2006

  • Chassagne Embrazees(Oct 2011): 6 bottles, none oxidized, excellent [R Younger]
  • Chassagne Embrazees (March 2013): not oxidized, delicious-purchased on release [R Younger]
  • Chassagne Morgeot (Oct 2011): 6 bottles, none oxidized, fabulous [R Younger]
  • Corton blanc (21 Aug 2015) Dark color, gold not brown, delicious, not oxidized [S Whitaker]

2007

  • Corton Charlemagne (Dec 2013), not oxidised,[b.henry]
  • Corton Charlemagne (Dec 2013):not oxidized, young [R Younger]
  • Corton Charlemagne (Dec 2014): not oxidized, still young [R Younger]
  • Meursault Genevrieres (Oct 2014); not oxidized, young and quite delicious [R Younger]
  • Meursault les Poruzots (Nov 2014); not oxidized but mature. from magnum [Kent M]
  • Montrachet (March 2015): Both cuvees tasted at 2007 Mostly Montrachet dinner. Neither was oxidized. See 2007 notes. [Don Cornwell]

2008

  • Corton Grand Cru ( June 2015) Fabulous and fresh. (Kent M)
  • Chassagne-Montrachet Caillerets (May 2016): 24 bottles for Grand Conseil-non oxidized-tight [R Younger]
  • Puligny-Montrachet Champs Gain (May 2016): 24 bottles for Grand Conseil-one corked-23 tight and no premox [R Younger]
  • Meursault Genevrieres (May 2016): 14 bottles for Grand Conseil-14 tight and delicious-no pre-mox [R Younger]
  • Montrachet (March 2016): Partially oxidized by unanimous agreement at the 2008 Mostly Montrachet dinner. See notes. [Don Cornwell]

2009

  • Pernand-Vergelesses Sous Frétille (Nov 2012) Good, fresh. Oak is dominant. Medium to dark yellow (Kent M)
  • Pernand-Vergelesses Sous Frétille (Jan 2013) Good, fresh. Oak is dominant. Medium yellow (Kent M)
  • Pernand-Vergelesses Sous Frétille (Dec 2013) Advanced. Dark gold. Still drinkable. From same case as previous examples. (Kent M)
  • Pernand-Vergelesses Sous Frétille (Oct 2014) Very good and fresh. The best so far. (Kent M)
  • Chassagne-Montrachet Grande Montagne (May 2013) Double decanted 20 hours ahead. Hazy, medium dark yellow. Yummy. (Kent M)
  • Chassagne-Montrachet Grande Montagne (Sept 2013 to May 2014) Three bottles. All hazy, balanced in the house style and delicious. (Kent M)
  • Puligny-Montrachet les Enseigneres (Jan 2015) Dark colour, as always. Very good, fresh. (Kent M)
  • Chassagne-Montrachet Grande Montagne (Jan 2015) fresh and delicious. (Kent M)
  • Chassagne-Montrachet Grande Montagne (August 2015) very fresh and delicious. Seems like it should improve for several more years(Kent M)

2010

  • Saint-Aubin Les Murgers des Dents de Chien (May 2013) Very good and fresh (Kent M)
  • Puligny-Montrachet les Enseigneres (March 2015) Advanced. Lacking fresh fruit. (Kent M)
  • Chassagne-Montrachet Grande Montagne (Dec 2016) maturing beautifully (Kent M)
  • Pernand-Vergelesses Sous Frétille (December 2016) Very good. (Kent M)

2011

  • Chassagne-Montrachet Grande Montagne (June 2014) Clean, crisp, fresh (Kent M)

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