The Best of the Best 2003: International White Wines - 1999 Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne

Rather than controlling disparate vineyard plots, as most Burgundy domaines do, Bonneau du Martray is a single, contiguous estate. The vineyards cover 25 acres in the grand crus of Corton and Corton-Charlemagne. Bonneau du Martray is the only domaine in Burgundy that exclusively produces Grand Cru wines, and of these, the whites are considered the grandest.

In the eighth century, these lands were owned by the oenophile emperor Charlemagne, who, as legend has it, uprooted some of the red vines from Corton and planted white in an effort to keep the wines from staining his beard. The white vineyards have been called Corton-Charlemagne ever since, and Bonneau du Martray is now in the capable hands of the Count de la Morinière.

The 1999 Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne, made entirely from barrel-fermented Chardonnay, is bright and elegant with intense fruit, vibrant acidity, subtle new oak, and a long, lively finish. Made in a clean, austere style, this wine will show at its best in five to eight years, but it will last much longer. Chardonnay has become the world’s most widely planted premium white wine variety, but nowhere else does it achieve the grandeur that it does in Burgundy. This wine is a classic expression of the “iron fist in the velvet glove.”

Balzac Communications, 707.255.7667; $75

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