Charles Ballot at Domaine Ballot-Millot in Meursault.

errières was difficult in its youth. Genevrières is old, but in good shape. Charmes is just on the border to Puligny-Montrachet. And Bouchères has the richest soil. In the cellars of Domaine Ballot-Millot the premier crus of Meursault rule. With the addition of three village appellation wines the different characters of the village are well-covered.

– The history of the vineyards go way back, both on my mother’s side and on my father’s, says Charles Ballot. It was at the end of the 17th century that the family really began buying vineyards.

Charles Ballot is the 15th generation at the domaine. Today it has close to ten hectares in production. Much is in Meursault, the rest in neighbouring villages – Volnay, Pommard, Beaune and Chassagne-Montrachet.

Meursault, Burgundy.In recent years the domaine has moved towards a stronger focus on white wine. The red Chassagne-Montrachet premier cru Morgeot is no more. The pinot noir vines have been up-rooted and chardonnay planted instead. The same goes for the red village Meursault and the red village Chassagne-Montrachet.

The Meursault Charmes of Domaine Ballot-Millot comes from a parcel in Meursault-Dessus, the upper part of Charmes. It is just below Perrières, bordering on Puligny-Montrachet. Half of the parcel was recently up-rooted to be replanted. The remaining vines are 40 years old.

– Genevrières is my oldest parcel, says Charles Ballot. The vines there are 70 years old. It is in Genevrières Dessus. The vines are still in very good condition, but they are old, which means it is very difficult to work there. The yield is still good and the concentration is always very good.

Meursault, Burgundy.He describes Perriéres as being very complicated in its youth. The rootstocks used there are the SO4, a rootstock which tends to be quite vigorous, producing wines lacking in balance.

– Then came 2003, which was a very warm year and it was a struggle for the vines, says Charles Ballot. They had to search deep down for some water. Since then the wine is completely different. Yields are lower and the wine is much better.

– The Perrières vines are 35 years old. You’ll find the parcel in Perrières-Dessous, just 40 metres before Clos des Perrières. A very nice parcel. Perrières is always a much more straight and longer wine than the Genevrières. Genevrières has a bit more power, but Perrières always has a lot of finesse. Perrières needs at least three or four years before everything start coming together.

Volnay, Burgundy.The Meursault Bouchères comes from a very small parcel. In a good year Charles Ballot will have four barrels of this premier cru. In the past it was sold to négociants, then only to clients in the US.

– The soil in Bouchères is a bit richer and also more red. You are approaching Narvaux, the village appellation higher up the slope, in terms of soil. It’s less stony than in Narvaux, but the soil is red and fat. Bouchères is warmer. It is cooler in Narvaux and in the other premier crus there is more wind. In Bouchères you are surrounded by walls and trees, which means you are more protected from the wind but more exposed to disease. It produces a wine which is warmer and riper. Bouchères tends to drop in acidity level more quickly than the others. It’s always the parcel which we harvest first together with our Volnay Santenots.

Meursault, Burgundy.In the cellar all whites, from the aligoté up to the premier crus, are treated the same way.

– Everything is done in barrel, explains Charles Ballot. I try to bottle the aligoté and the Bourgogne blanc a bit earlier, but apart from that it’s the same. For the premier crus I use 20-25 per cent new oak, depending on the vintage. I use very tight-grained oak, with very light toast. The wine stay in barrel for about twelve months. Both fermentations take place in barrel. Just before bottling I move the wine to stainless steel tanks.

In addition to the already mentioned Narvaux, where Domaine Ballot-Millot has a parcel in the lower part, there are another two village appellation Meursaults at the domaine – a straight Meursault, which is a blend of five different parcels, and a single parcel Meursault from Les Criots, a lieu-dit north of the village, on the Volnay side.

Charles Ballot at Domaine Ballot-Millot in Meursault.– Les Criots is just below Volnay Santenots, says Charles Ballot. It is often blended with other lieux-dits. Most domaines who has some Les Criots don’t bottle it separately. Les Criots is interesting because I have a parcel in the middle, where there is a band of rock. The soil is whiter, very calcareous. So you get a wine which has a very good maturity. It is rich, with lots of finesse and minerality. It keeps well, but not as well as Narvaux. 2003 was a very warm year, but the Les Criots from that year still holds up very well, much thanks to the minerality.

There is one Chassagne-Montrachet at Domaine Ballot-Millot, a Morgeot premier cru. There is large number of premier crus around the Abbaye de Morgeot where the grower has the of choice putting the actual premier cru on the label or sell it as Morgeot.

– I’m in Tête du Clos, across the road from the around the Abbaye de Morgeot, says Charles Ballot. I’m in the top part. Morgeot is a very large appellation, with many types of soil. This is white soil, very mineral. This produces a fine-tuned wine with finesse. In years with more rain one really notices the chalky side of the terroir. It’s probably not the most representative for Morgeot, because Morgeot is usually quite succulent and easy-drinking. This is more mineral.

© 2018 Ola Bergman