The 2016 Bourgogne Rouge “Cuvée Gravel” is absolutely joyous. Sweet red berries, flowers, earth and licorice are some of the notes that emerge from this fleshy yet supple wine. A huge overachiever in its class, this is a very delicious wine that over delivers in every way.
Claude Maréchal is a winemaker who most people have not heard about, especially outside France despite his estate being rated at the same level as Dujac, Carillon, d’Angerville, Ponsot and Sauzet in France’s most respected wine guide - La Revue du Vin de France.
His principles in the vineyards are straightforward: the vineyards are plowed, no herbicides are used, treatments are kept to a minimum and the pruning is severe to keep yields low. Vinification takes place in open wooden vats, all grapes are totally destemmed (à la Jayer), and fermentation is not induced by adding cultured yeast, so it can take a few days to start (a "natural" cold pre-maceration) using it's own. New barrels are added every year for maturation, but their proportion stays very low in order to produce wines where fruit dominates.It is important to stress that there is no recipe here. Winemaking follows a general theme, but techniques may be changed from year to year to suit the conditions of the vintage.
This estate is without doubt one of the best kept secrets in Burgundy.