The 2000 vintage is what I consider to be BDM’s last high quality vintage. But my calling it a “high quality” vintage has a huge caveat or asterisk. I went through a full case of it between February 2008 and late 2011. Of those 12 bottles, two were fully oxidized, two were advanced, five bottles I rated at 94 points and three bottles at 93. Yes, I realize that most people would consider that having one-third of the bottles you open from a case being oxidized or advanced as completely unacceptable performance and inconsistent with a conclusion that it is a “high quality vintage” for that producer – but such relativism is the unfortunate fact of life of Bonneau du Martray since the 1990 vintage.
Since the 2000 vintage, every vintage I’ve tasted (2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008) has been disappointing – either because of overwhelming premox problems (e.g. 2002, 2004, 2006), or because the wine was just unimpressive and disappointing for what was once the second best producer in Corton Charlemagne.
Except for the occasional single library bottle for my annual premox dinners, I completely stopped buying Bonneau du Martray after the 2002 vintage. Obviously a lot of other people did too.
What I never have understood is the attitude from Jean-Charles Le Bault de la Morinière, until very recently the regisseur of the Domaine. Around 2004 or 2005 a good friend of mine was going to burgundy and he went armed with a variety of questions about premox incidence and steps being taken to deal with the problem that he wanted to ask to several white burgundy producers. One of the places he arranged to visit, through courtier Peter Wasserman, was BdM. When my friend spoke to Jean-Charles, he refused to acknowledge that BDM had any premoxed wines and completely refused to answer his questions about steps to deal with premox or questions about things like free SO2 levels, cork-related issues, etc. Mr. Wasserman thereafter took my friend to the proverbial woodshed and told him that premox was an off-limits subject for most producers and unless they themselves bring it up, he was to ask no more questions about premox or all of the remaining visits that Wasserman had arranged would be cancelled.
I met Jean-Charles twice, most recently at the Paulee in San Francisco in 2012. By that point Jean-Charles at least acknowledged that BdM had some premox issues, but he was still unwilling to discuss any details about the wine making process or whether the Domaine had taken any steps to combat premox. By that point he was very familiar with my annual premox tastings and my commentary about BdM over the years, to which he said he took considerable exception. He was polite but completely uncompromising. He said that if I made a trip to see him in Burgundy he would then discuss premox with me.
While I haven’t visited BdM, I wasn’t really surprised to see the January 5th press release that majority ownership of the Domaine has been sold to Stan Kroenke. To me, either a sale of the Domaine or a change of management by the family had seemed inevitable.
I can only hope that the change of ownership and management (Armand de Maigret is the new regisseur) will be a change for the better and that Bonneau du Martray will once again become a Corton that I want to have in my cellar.