A man of the vineyards, Arnaud's "knack", as critic David Schildknecht recently put it, is to be driven to produce perfect Pinot fruit from meticulously tended vineyards. He is without question one of the finest growers of the entire Côte (many of his colleagues acknowledge as much) and as great wines are the products of great fruit, it is no coincidence that he is producing some of the finest wines in Burgundy today. There is no doubt that the wines are more refined than those produced while his father was alive, yet they share the same intensity and potential longevity.
Arnaud is continuing Denis' dream of producing more refined wines: openly getting closer stylistically to the wines of his uncle, Charles Rousseau, without sacrificing depth and intensity or consistency across the range (which Rousseau has often lacked). Denis was already “backing off” the extraction in the pursuit of greater elegance but Arnaud is taking this even further, not only via shorter and gentler macerations, but also by reducing the percentage of new oak used. At the same time the vineyard work chez Mortet is at the very highest level. Horse is now used to plough all 1er and Grand Cru vineyards (in order to minimise soil compaction) and organic/biodynamic practice is now being trialed in these sites. Machines are no longer used in any sites and all the work, including spraying copper/sulphur which is done via backpack.
The yields remain very low (much lower than Rousseau for example) and, according to my understanding, the fruit selection (triage) is also much more severe. Lower yields and stricter triage will always result in richer, more intense wines, at least when the wines are young.
Mortet's vineyards are things of beauty. Every vine is tended by hand and leaves are removed if damaged in any way. The Allen Meadows notes above comments on the renown that Arnaud Mortet enjoys amongst his peers for his vineyard work. Everyone who knows Arnaud is well aware that he is a perfectionist by nature and that he is driven by the desire to honour his father's legacy. He has made a wonderful start. The continued evolution of Domaine Denis Mortet is certainly going to be very exciting to watch (and taste!)