Library Vintage Reflections


When opening a bottle of wine with many years of age, I think back to where I was when the grapes were being harvested. In 2005, I was a college student, studying to become a high school English teacher. Little did I know that by 2007, I would abandon that passion for one far more intoxicating: wine. While I toiled away studying, Burgundy was experiencing a vintage that would become coveted among collectors.

There are several factors that are critical for a wine to improve over time. For white wines, exceptional quality, complex layers of flavor, and acidity are all essential. Fresh, energetic white wines remain balanced even as their flavors mature. Yet none of this is an exact science; wine, like us, is alive. It is hard to predict how the attributes of a wine, or a person’s life, will culminate over time. But if a wine’s destiny was entirely predictable, the experience of drinking it would be boring. Beauty exists in its potential for greatness, and ultimately, the journey it takes to get there.

Born with high hopes, the 2005 vintage in Burgundy was defined by warmth and ideal ripening conditions. The best red wines benefitted from these circumstances as the pinot noir grapes were able to develop ripe red fruits amidst a firm structure. The white wines offered an element of curiosity – many wondered if chardonnay could balance opulent fruit with enough nuance and acidity to improve for decades. At Bonneau du Martray, the answer is clear: they could, and they did. The Corton-Charlemagne and Corton are both stunning.

In fairness, Bonneau du Martray’s Corton-Charlemagne always has plenty of advantages. Parcels of chardonnay at the top of the Hill of Corton ensure that the wines will have verve even in warm years, while parcels in the middle and bottom offer texture, breadth, and plenty of lush fruit. The journey for the 2005 has not ended. The wine remains fresh and exciting, and will reward drinkers now and over the next several years.

It is hard not to envy how effortlessly Bonneau du Martray’s Corton-Charlemagne matures. As the years go on, we can all only hope that we retain as much energy, showcase as much depth, and bring others as much happiness as a great Grand Cru. In the end, though, the reward is in the journey. Enjoy.

Warm Regards,

Mary Margaret McCamic, Master of Wine
General Manager


On Aged White Burgundy and Bottle Personality

We are thrilled to share the 1991 Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne with you. Special, rarified bottles like this allow for the opportunity to examine how wine ages. This is particularly interesting when it comes to white wines, since a precious few are meant to age. Fresh, energetic acidity, high quality, and complexity are all factors that help a wine age with grace, and Bonneau du Martray’s Corton-Charlemagne consistently possesses all three.

In addition to tasting several bottles of the 1991 at the estate in Burgundy this year, I had the pleasure of drinking the 1991 at The French Laundry in July. It was riveting, elegant, and refined. For me, the 1991 Bonneau du Martray turned out to be the bottle of the night, even though it had to compete against the likes of 2002, one of the most coveted vintages for white burgundy.

For those of you who purchased the 1994 library release last year, the 1991 vintage provides a beautiful, captivating contrast. The 1991 is lovely, showing a touch more development than the 1994, with more distinctive saline and savory notes. You are in for something very exciting when you open these bottles that are now nearing 28 years of age and still performing beautifully.

As you may have read in this year’s “Letters from Burgundy,” which accompanies your box of 2016 vintage purchase, the 1991 Corton-Charlemagne may show some slight bottle variation. Every bottle that I have had of the 1991 vintage has brought me great joy; some bottles show more almond and citrus notes, while others display slightly more fullness in the mouth, with more hazelnut undertones. This variation is to be expected, particularly for aged wines, and is part of what makes library selections so special to drink.

Each bottle of wine you purchase from Karolus Wine Imports has been stored in perfect conditions, with each cork inspected prior to being foiled. Because the bottles are now in your possession, and we no longer have control of their storage conditions, please note that we will not be able to address the conditions of any bottles beyond April of 2019.

It is a distinct privilege to share these well-aged, mature bottles of Grand Cru Corton-Charlemagne with you. I selected the 1991 vintage because it is drinking perfectly right now, so please open and enjoy. Should you have a particular fondness for library vintages, please reach out to me and share your interests; I may be able to find a few gems to share with you that we have ordered in tiny quantities for special clients.

Warm Regards,

Mary Margaret McCamic, Master of Wine
General Manager


Aged White Burgundy: Natural Evolution Versus Premature Oxidation

We are thrilled to share the 1994 Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne with you. Special, rarified bottles like this allow for the opportunity to examine how wine ages. This is particularly interesting when it comes to white wines, since so few have the capacity to improve over time. Fresh acidity, high quality, and complexity are all factors that help a wine age with grace, and Bonneau du Martray’s Corton-Charlemagne consistently possesses all three.

Proper storage is also extremely important, which is why these special bottles come directly from the Domaine in France where they have been patiently waiting for over two decades. It is also why they were transported to the U.S. in refrigerated vessels, keeping the wine at 55 degrees for the entire journey.

The 1994 vintage is stunning, and consistently showcases hints of lemon curd alongside notes of crème brûlée. At the same time, this wine is now 23 years old, so it has expectedly developed a slightly more golden color, notes of hazelnut, baked apple, and potentially – after over two decades in bottle – slight oxidative notes. These aspects are normal and part of what gives the wine character. We selected this library vintage because it is drinking at its prime right now, and you should enjoy it for its development and natural evolution in the bottle.

Should you find yourself with a bottle that is more brown than golden, devoid of any fruit, and offers oxidative qualities like pronounced nuttiness, I encourage you to contact me directly. We do not anticipate many instances of this since the wine has been stored in perfect conditions, with corks inspected prior to being foiled. That said, we want you to enjoy this beautifully aged white wine, and we want to ensure that it showcases its natural qualities.

Because the bottles are now in your possession, and we no longer have control of their storage conditions, please note that we will not be able to address the conditions of any bottles beyond April of 2018.

Warm Regards,

Mary Margaret McCamic, Master of Wine
General Manager