We first learned about the wines of Olivier Morin on high recommendation from the owners of the superb restaurant, Les Tonelles, located on an island in the Loire River near Savennières (now called Une Ile in Angers). This winery is yet another story of a winemaker who exceeds the expectations of his humble appellation and produces wines of great character and value.
Though this 11 hectares domaine has been in the Morin family since at least 1650 (the records do not go farther back), Olivier followed an unusual path to winemaking. After oenological studies in Beaune, he worked for 10 years as a radio announcer in the day and as a DJ at night. Tired of the night life, he returned to the domaine in 1992 to work with his brother Christian.
One quarter of the domaine is planted in Aligoté, one quarter in Pinot Noir, and one half in Chardonnay. The soils are worked manually so that the roots plunge deeply into the soil and give a true expression of “terroir” to the wines, an expression of minerality which comes from the kimmeridgian chalk soils in which the vine are planted – the same soil as Chablis. No chemicals are used in the vineyard and the grapes are hand harvested. The grapes are gently pressed and the wines are aged on their lees. The wines are bottled with little or no filtration. The domaine has received numerous citations in the French press, including a mention in the Revue des Vins de France as part of the “nouvelle generation” of winemakers in Burgundy.
The exceptional exposure of the vineyards, the meticulous care, and the cleanliness of the grapes allows Morin to vinify with very little SO2 and using only natural yeasts. When we asked Olivier about the connection being a DJ and being a winemaker, he replied that the goal in both cases was to give pleasure to people – then he added, with a smile, "but I think the pleasure is longer lasting and more interesting with the wine."
Chitry is located next to the village of Saint-Bris, right near Chablis. Like the terrific wines of Jean-Hugues Goisot, Morin's Bourgogne Blanc Chitry's gain their complexity from the kimmerigian soils of the region. Morin's Chitry Blanc, or "Baby Chablis", is fermented all in tank to preserve its freshness and purity. The Bourgogne rouge is fermented in tank and then aged in barrel for six to nine months. The resulting wines are clear, precise and mineral, and yes, very Chablisien indeed. They also make a small amount of a top cuvée of Chardonnay called "Olympe" from their best hillside parcels and aged in large casks for 12 months followed by 6 months in tank. It can easily age for 10-15 years, revealing the potential and pedigree of Chitry's undervalued terroirs.