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The Morey family of vignerons is one of Burgundy’s better-known; as is quite common in this region of splintered properties, their name has been perpetuated by multiple branches of the family over time. It would be tough to rival current-generation Thomas Morey’s roots: he is tenth-generation in Chassagne-Montrachet. Thomas and his brother Vincent worked the family holdings with their father, the famous Bernard Morey, until he retired in 2005, at which time the brothers were lucky enough to be able to amicably split the domaine in two. Thomas and his wife Sylvie set up their own winery in 2006 and bottled their first wines in the challenging 2007 vintage (his brother bottles wines under Vincent et Sophie Morey).
The current holdings total 13 hectares, 8 of those owned and 5 of them rented; their production is 65% white wine and 35% red, with annual production a modest 5000 cases or so. Thomas bottles an impressive 8 different Chassagne crus, including a little Bâtard grand cru, as well as a little Puligny Truffières premier cru and reds in the form of Santenay, Maranges and Chassagne too. Most of the vines were planted in the 1950’s and 1960’s, and 90% of them are selection massale. Harvest is entirely by hand. Thomas made one notable viticultural change after taking over his share of the family vines: he converted the estate holdings to organics. He looked back to his grandparents’ way of farming, with the only vineyard treatments being moderate amounts of copper and sulfur as necessary, from which sprang beautiful brought forth with minimal environmental impact. The conversion began in the 2011 vintage (according to Thomas a relatively and fortunately “easy” one to begin in) and has been completed in full.
Thomas’s work in the cellar is essentially traditional Burgundian with some modifications. Fermentation takes places with indigenous yeasts only, in a combination of neutral barrel and tank, with zero sulfur employed during vinification. Whites go through malolactic fermentation and are kept on their lees--but without any stirring (bâtonnage)—in barrel. New oak usage is headed downward, from about 30% in earlier vintages to 25% by 2013-2014, with a goal of no more than 20% for his premier crus in 2015. Whites are gently filtered and reds bottled without filtration. Particularly notable is Thomas’s approach to sulfur. His end goal is a low level of free sulfur in the finished wine, which he finds is best accomplished with a series of tiny doses of sulfur after malo is completed and well before bottling. This approach allows the wine to absorb the sulfur more smoothly and makes a hit of sulfur at bottling unnecessary.
Thomas Morey wines tend to fare well critically but remain under the radar of Burgundy buyers in this country, given their limited availability here. While Thomas does not make a lot of wine, he makes it carefully, farming conscientiously and handling it minimally in the cellar, to maximize the purity of expression of the grape, vintage and terroir of their excellent sites in and around Chassagne. The wines are typically rich in terms of flavor, depth and texture but balanced by a restrained hand and naturally vibrant acidity and minerality: in other words, classically Burgundian.