One might think that the current Burgundian classification and the number of vineyards is complex enough, but in fact the old classifications were even more complex, as some of the vineyards were split in a low and a high part in the older classifications – reflecting differences in quality within the vineyards we know today. And some classifications were even more detailed – offering a classification on cadastre plot level and sometimes on a even more detailed level.
In some appellations the terms Dessous (lower section) and Dessus (higher section) are still used on the label to explaining which part of the vineyard the wine is from – but in general these terms have been eradicated thus giving a less precise classification in some places.
Meursault ups and downs
In Meursault the terms Dessus and to some extend also Dessous are still used by some growers to signal where the wine is made. Since the higher part of the vineyards, is normally considered the best … Dessus is used more commonly than the Dessous term … no point in writing “from the lesser and lower part of Meursault Charmes on the label”.
In Meursault the old partition of the vineyard is maintained on some maps, and both 1er crus and village climates can be split in a higher and lower part on these maps.
In most case the higher part is considered superior but in vineyard located high on the slope this is not always the case.
The old classification map from 1861
If we take a closer look at the Meursault part of the old classification map from 18611, we see the well known pattern where the quality increases as one moves up slope.
On this map we see that a vineyard like Meursault Charmes have plots classified as 1er Classe (pink), 2e Classe (yellow) and even 3e Classe (green) at the very bottom of the vineyard.
Rodier confirms this in 1920 – where he wrote the following about Les Charmes-Dessous: “Ce climat est également classé, dans quelques partiés, en Premiére et Troisiéne Cuvées” while he considered the total area of Les Charmes-Dessus as being Premiére Cuvée4.
So lest take a closer look at Meursault Les Charmes based on the old classifcations.
A close look at Meursault Les Charmes
Meursault Chames is a very large and quite diverse vineyard, at best very fine but still no match for a good Meursault Perrieres, at worst a heavy and volumptuos village wine.
Nevertheless today the whole vineyard is classified as a 1er cru – and in many cases sold without any information about the location of the plots within the vineyard.
A closer look at the classification map show that total area of Les Charmes-Dessus was classified as 1er classe, while the top southern part of Les Charmes-Dessous also was classified as 1er classe.
The rest of Les Charmes-Dessous was classified lower .. the main part as 2e Classe and the bottom northern part as 3e Classe – see map below (click on the map to enlarge).
Map from Batault-Morot, E. Plan statistique des vignobles produisant les grands vins de Bourgogne. (1861)
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