The rich history of the land, its lineage, and the story of these vines somehow translates into something even more compelling. Such is the case with Bonneau du Martray, a name now synonymous with some of the most captivating wines from Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru and Corton Grand Cru.
The Hill of Corton is nestled between the three Burgundian villages: Pernand-Vergelesses, Aloxe-Corton, and Ladoix-Serrigny. What makes the wine from this place special is a question without an easy answer, as there are many factors at play. Not least is the strip of limestone soil near the top of the hill where chardonnay grows best.
The discussion of light and its influence on Bonneau du Martray’s vines cannot be ignored either, since the vines in Corton-Charlemagne are the only Grand Cru vineyards in Burgundy to face south-west. These vines soak up less direct sunlight during the day but enjoy it for longer than their east-facing neighbors.
This is the largest single holding in Corton-Charlemagne, stretching across the famed lieux-dits ‘En Charlemagne’ and 'Le Charlemagne' in the heart of the appellation. These hallowed grounds are home to Bonneau du Martray’s estate, which Clive Coates MW says “was probably created out of the ashes of the old ecclesiastical land-holdings when these were taken over by the state and sold at the time of the Revolution.” One always feels reverence in Corton-Charlemagne, but it is particularly strong at Bonneau du Martray.
It is therefore no surprise that the call of Corton-Charlemagne beckoned E. Stanley Kroenke, the proprietor of California’s Screaming Eagle, Jonata and The Hilt, but it is rare for an American to find a way into such coveted Burgundian land. Until its recent acquisition, Bonneau du Martray was owned by the same family for centuries, before which it was stewarded by Benedictine monks who were gifted the land by Charles the Great in 775 AD. The story that began with land owned by Charlemagne begins its next chapter as past proprietor Jean-Charles le Bault de la Morinière passes parentage onto the Kroenke family.
Both are produced in small quantities from vineyards that are farmed biodynamically. While these wines express chardonnay and pinot noir unlike any other wines in the world, wines from Burgundy ultimately speak of their place more loudly than their grape variety.
Bonneau du Martray’s ‘Corton-Charlemagne’ is unmistakable, with its steely, stony feel while at the same time exuding an opulence on the finish that distinguishes it from other Grand Crus. The Corton captures pinot noir in a way it can only be expressed in the Cote de Beaune, with enticing floral aromas alongside a dancing core of red fruit, and distinct forest floor earthiness one can only find in wines from the old world.