DOMAINE DENIS MORTET

DOMAINE DENIS MORTET

GEVREY-CHAMBERTIN
Owner:
Laurence & Arnaud Mortet
Website
Domaine Denis Mortet produces some of Burgundy’s most sought-after wines. The late Denis Mortet became a highly respected figure in Burgundy as he rose to fame with an exceptional range of wines while his son Arnaud Mortet turned another corner, modernizing the domaine even further by developing wines of great elegance without rejecting the density his father gave him.
DOMAINE DENIS MORTET

Arnaud Mortet, the young wine-maker of the Denis Mortet domaine, is the latest in a line that began with Charles Mortet, who created his domaine with a single hectare of vines in 1956. Like many of his neighbours, Charles Mortet sold all the wine he produced to the trade. In 1978, his son Denis joined him at the age of 22 with his 20-year-old wife Laurence. They soon began bottling and selling the wines and Laurence, who was the daughter of farmers, acquired a taste for vineyard work. As the true gardeners they were, it was through the quality of their work with the vines that Denis and Laurence would break into the market at a time when wine growing was neglected. In 1993, they officially took over, with 4.5 hectares of vines, and the domaine took the name of Denis Mortet. The first recognition came in 1995, when La Revue du Vin de France named Denis Mortet the best wine grower in France. The number of vines increased and the domaine went from success to success with an easily recognisable style, consisting of a colourful wine of fine density, with mature tannins and a well-integrated woodiness. Although Denis loved fine wines, all his efforts, both in the vineyard and in the cellar, focused on the density of the wine at a time when many wines had lost their soul through dilution and acidity. Dilution is often a sign of very high yields and acidity a sign of grapes harvested too early to limit the risks associated with harvests of mature grapes. The quest for optimum maturity, the management of the vineyard and smaller yields resulted in a rich, opulent wine with fine content that frequently occupied first place in the rankings. If by any chance it came second, Denis’s pride would be hurt and he would work extra hard to regain first place. In the year 2000, his son Arnaud joined him and began a long apprenticeship under his father. On January 30, 2006, Denis Mortet died at the age of 51 and Arnaud Mortet bravely assumed control of the domaine, with the help of his mother Laurence, and gradually stamped his own sensibility on it.


The growing isn’t 100% organic: “We no longer use herbicides or insecticides. But we do still have problems with mildew. I don’t want to risk losing part of my harvest. I want to keep open the option of using an appropriate tool if there are any problems. That’s why we haven’t yet applied for organic certification.” Nevertheless, a respect for the terroir is fundamental to the domaine, which accounts for the great quality of the wine. A crucial point is that the yields are between 40 and 45 hectolitres per hectare on average, about 45 hectolitres per hectare for the young vines, between 30 and 35 for the old vines. This intensive work has been amply rewarded by the latest vintages that the domaine has been able to produce. It is not always easy to succeed a father who was both media-friendly and unanimously recognized for the great quality of his wines.
Up until 2005, following the customs of the time, new wood reigned supreme: “It was believed that it wasn’t possible to produce great wines without a heavy use of new wood. I gradually reduced the proportion of new wood. I don’t want to conceal the huge amount of work we do on the vines.” There has also been a change of style with regard to the maturing process, with a reduction in maturing times: 18 months on average, except for the Burgundy, the Marsannay and the Fixin, where it does not exceed a year, with three months in the vat. The proportion of new barrels is 15% for the Burgundy, 20% for the Marsannay and the Fixin. The proportion of new barrels for the other cuvées varies from 30% to 100%. The resulting wine is more elegant and less woody than in the past. Another notable change is in the stalking. Since the 1990s, all the grapes have been systematically stalked, resulting in well-rounded and immediately charming wines that have had wide appeal. Arnaud will sometimes test whole crops. “In hot years in particular, when the stem is mature, I will destem less, even where our destemming was already light.” Arnaud Mortet has clearly changed direction towards greater freshness and delicacy.