As of the 2009 vintage, winemaker Patrick Essa and his wife Catherine Buisson have officially taken over the domaine, following the retirement of her father Michel (though Monsieur Buisson is still active in the vineyards and cellar as he nears 80. In fact it is Michel who most likely prepared your wines for shipment. His 55+ years of experience and wisdom infuse every drop of wine that flows through this fabulous cellar.)
Always one of my favorite places to taste, Patrick keeps his cellar pristine. A clean and orderly cellar does not guarantee great wines, of course, but one rarely finds great wines coming from cellars that are shabby from neglect. Patrick has led a dual life for the last 20+ years, working full-time as a school teacher in Gevrey-Chambertin, as well as working at the side of his father-in-law in the vineyards and cellar.
Patrick and I share a love for the band Pearl Jam, and we’re both big Springsteen fans too. No wonder we hit it off so well! Patrick has an extensive collection of Pearl Jam videos and bootlegs that are often playing when I’m invited to his house for dinner. Dinner chez Patrick & Kate is always a culinary and vinous extravaganza – she’s a great cook (her foie gras terrine is dynamite), and he’s got one of the most amazing cellars I’ve ever run across. His passion runs to great wines from everywhere, not just Burgundy. He’ll often surprise me with an old Barolo or something new from the Jura along with a deep selection of older Burgs that are usually stunning.
The domaine covers just 12 acres, most of it in Meursault. There are five parcels of Village-level vines, now averaging over 65 years of age (the oldest are nearing 100.) There is a small parcel of Meursault Tessons, one of the great lieu-dits on the hillside above the southern half of the village, and there are tiny pieces of four exceptional Premier Crus. Only a few barrels of Charmes, les Cras, Goutte d’Or and Bouches-Chères are produced each year.
As of 2011, Patrick has added a couple of new treats to the program – with a barrel or two of Corton-Charlemagne, Chablis Grand Cru Vaudesir, and a couple of Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Crus as well. Quantities are microscopic, but they are worth hunting down.
The style is full-on classic here – minimal new oak, no lees-stirring – just pure, concentrated, textbook Meursault. Buisson-Charles has been somewhat of an insider’s secret for many years, but now with all the major critics singing the domaine’s praises, the cat is out of the proverbial bag. The wines all have great richness, buffered by a lively acidity that allows them to age gracefully for decades.