Domaine Jean-Jacques Confuron

Alain and Sophie Meunier (pictured), of the Domaine Jean-Jacques Confuron (tastings), were the special guests from Burgundy at this year’s Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir Celebration. Sophie, a good English speaker, did all the talking and was very entertaining. 

Apparently in 1982 her father Jean-Jacques was taken ill and she volunteered to take over responsibility for the winemaking, but she had ‘no idea’ what to do with the grapes. “I was told women cannot make wine because their menstruation would turn the wine to vinegar.” It’s an old French ploy to keep women out of the winery and in the kitchen, no doubt. “But I made the wine and it didn’t turn into vinegar,” she joked. 

She went to wine school, where she met Alain, her future husband. They made the wine together in 1985. “He had no vineyards, so I married him for love,” she said. The Confurons have 8.5 hectares of vines in 14 appellations, so “He might have married me for the vineyards!” 

Sophie is the fourth generation of her family to work the domaine. Her grandfather began bottling his own wine in the early 1930s. The family vineyards, all in the Cote de Nuits, consist of 95% pinot noir, 3% chardonnay and 2% aligoté. After attending a lecture by Burgundian soil guru Claude Bourguignon, Alain decided to go organic. Bourguignon said: “If you are going to talk about terroir, you have to look after your soil.” The same man famously said at one time that there was more life in the Sahara Desert than in the soils of Burgundy.

The Confuron vineyards are organically managed and ploughed with a horse, but he doesn’t plan to go biodynamic. Alain is interested, but believes that such a thing is not possible unless it’s global. “The entire biodiversity must be biodynamic; it’s not possible in Burgundy.” Sophie Meunier said global warming had influenced harvest dates: “My parents used to start harvesting in mid to late October. Now we begin about the 24th September, and we’ve started as early as late August.” 

We tasted six 2012 vintage red wines, ‘an excellent vintage’, culminating in the domaine’s star wine, Romanée St-Vivant, of which they make an average of 300 dozen. All were excellent quality: elegant, fragrant and packed with fruit flavour.

The Cote de Nuits Villages Les Vignottes was bright, fresh, lively and good for its station; the Nuits-St-Georges Les Fleurières was smoky, savoury and deep; the Chambolle-Musigny was by general agreement a sexy wine, smoky, toasty and refined, with gorgeous texture; the Nuits-St-Georges 1er cru Aux Boudots was intense and structural, with power and length; the Clos de Vougeot grand cru was a superb example of this vineyard, violet and rose perfumed, oak-tinged and remarkably open at this stage; and the Romanée-St-Vivant grand cru was terrifically dense and profound, char-oaky, solid, muscular and long-term – not to be touched for at least 10 years. It was an outstanding line-up of clean, pure, modern Burgundies. 

[Domaine Jean-Jacques Confuron wines are imported by Euan McKay Wine Merchant, ]

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