English critic Clive Coates, never one to be effusive in his praise, has designated Bonneau du Martray as one of the Top 10 Burgundy Domaines of all time and states unambiguously that the Domaine is the “best source” for Corton-Charlemagne.
Family-owned for almost two centuries, Domaine Bonneau du Martray, is the only estate in Burgundy that produces exclusively Grand Cru wines. The Domaine is not only the largest single owner of Corton-Charlemagne but also the largest single owner of any one Grand Cru in Burgundy. With 11 hectares of vineyards situated on the legendary Hill of Corton, within the heart of the original Corton-Charlemagne, the Domaine safeguards and indeed refines the iconic wines with direct lineage to Charlemagne.
Although the entire 11 hectare estate is contiguous, it is bisected by the communal border between Pernand-Vergelesses and Aloxe-Corton. Within Pernand lie 4.5 hectares of Chardonnay vines, all situated within the climat, En Charlemagne. Within Aloxe lie 5 hectares of Chardonnay and 1.5 hectares of Pinot Noir, both parcels within the climat, Le Charlemagne. The Chardonnay grows on the upper slopes of the Hill of Corton. The soil of En Charlemagne is grey marl admixed with clay over Oxfordian limestone base. The topsoil is fragile and requires much care to maintain. The soil of Le Charlemagne, on the Pernand side, is very similar but contains more flint. The Domaine’s Pinot Noir parcel lies downslope in Le Charlemagne, and the soil contains more iron (thus is redder) and pebbles, but less clay.
The estate and winemaking are currently directed by the very charming and articulate Jean-Charles le Bault de la Marinière, scion of the family that has owned the property since shortly after the French Revolution. Since taking the reins from his father in 1994, Jean-Charles has
implemented principles of organic agriculture governed by a biodynamic philosophy. He has banished herbicides and chemical fertilizers, reduced crop yields, and promoted sustainable and renewable biological diversity in the soil.
Each of 16 separate parcels of ripe Chardonnay fruit is separately hand-harvested and sorted before complete de-stemming and light extraction by pneumatic Bucher presses. Each of the parcels is then vinified separately. Fermentation begins in small, 15-hl stainless steel vats, where the juice ferments for 5-6 days with temperatures held below 18°C. After this initial period, the must goes into Allier and Nevers oak barrels, 30 % new, where it undergoes alcoholic and malolactic fermentation; and in which there is periodic batonnage. After malo is complete, the wine is racked off its lees and the wines (still-separated by parcel) are blended in tank before racking back into barrels. Before the second winter the wine undergoes Kieselguhr and sterile plate filtration and is re-racked into tank to await bottling, typically in Spring, around18 months after harvesting.