Planted at the beginning of the 1990s, the vines for Méo-Camuzet's Hautes Côtes de Nuits Blanc are now well rooted and digging down deep in order to go in search of their nutrients. The growth cycle is longer, beginning at the same time or even earlier, but the maturation is longer, and the harvest takes place a few days later compared with the vines of the Côte. The grapes picked in this climat are always very ripe, but with a high degree of natural acidity. The level of alcohol remains reasonable, as the grapes generally contain from 12° to 12.5° potential alcohol, which in the end produces a fresh, easy-to-drink wine. Unfortunately, yields are not very high, so the demand is higher than the supply. We were very happy to receive an allocation. Rich and often tropical aromas lead to freshness on the palate and remarkable mineral character. When this wine is young, its nose is captivating and well developed, whereas the palate remains a little tight, still marked by the acidity over the fruit. Jean-NIcolas Méo advises a few years of aging (three to five years from the vintage) for this wine to achieve a perfect balance. Situated about 330 yards from Échezeaux, still on the territory of Flagey-Échezeaux at an altitude of over 1,200 feet, the family has always thought it has a dream orientation: gently sloping and slanting east/south-east, poor soil... Of course, the altitude is higher (about 390 - 425 feet above the village of Vosne), but a carpet of stones encourages reverberation. The total surface area is nearly 9 acres.
For more than four centuries, the members of the Méo family have devoted themselves to growing vines and making wines. They came originally from the Burgundy village of Selongey, in the north of Côte d'Or, where today, even if the vines, alas, have disappeared, a pressing house, dating from the year 50 AD, bears witness to the presence there of Gallo-Roman winegrowers.
From the 19th century onwards, the Méo children chose the course of study. The great-grandfather of Jean-Nicolas, for example, was a primary-school teacher, his grandfather graduated from the École Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées (civil engineering) and his father, Jean Méo, was a graduate of the École Polytechnique and an engineer in the Corps des Mines. Jean was later to be elected a Member of the European Parliament and sat on the Council of Paris.
It was thanks to Jean Méo's mother, Marcelle Lamarche-Confuron, originating from an old winegrowing family in Vosne (with already a small activity as négociants), that the Méos came to settle in Vosne-Romanée.
Jean Méo's grandmother was the first cousin of Étienne Camuzet, a very colorful character.
Étienne Camuzet (1867-1946) was a winegrower in Vosne-Romanée, mayor of the village and also an MP for Côte d'Or from 1903 to 1932. In 1920, he had the opportunity to purchase the Château du Clos de Vougeot with some of the vines, but instead of living there, he preferred to lodge his tenant farmers in it (indeed, because of his political activities, he no longer had time, himself, to look after his own vineyards). He was to sell it in November 1944: not surprisingly, the château had suffered during the war. He had (already!) understood the importance for Burgundy to have a "temple” to help promote its wine. Étienne Camuzet thus chose to pass it on to the Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin.
As for the vines, it was the 20 hectares (50 acres) at the top of the Clos that were for sale ... Étienne Camuzet enlisted the help of his fellow winegrowers from Vosne-Romanée to acquire them. He would keep 3 hectares (7.5 acres) himself, immediately below the château.
Following the death of Étienne Camuzet, his daughter, Maria Noirot, inherited the estate from her father and retained the tenant farmers. She had no children, however, and when she died, in 1959, she bequeathed the estate to her nephew, Jean Méo, who at that time had already left Vosne-Romanée, and since 1958 had been a member of General de Gaulle's cabinet. Having been regularly in close contact with his uncle, who had shared with him his passion for the vine, teaching him to respect and love wine, the youngest of the Méos could not allow the winegrowing saga of the family to come to an end. He decided, therefore, to take the estate in hand, with help from his father, Gaston, initially, and then from his mother. In that way, Jean Méo was able to remain with General de Gaulle and to pursue his career in Paris, which would lead him to manage in succession several large companies: ELF, France Soir, Agence Havas, Institut Français du Pétrole and others. He was also elected to the European Parliament and sat on the Council of Paris. Throughout that period, he relied on four tenant farmers, including the great winegrower, Henri Jayer, who was one of the first to control temperatures systematically during vinification, always bringing out the freshness and the fruit, thus making the nose and the texture of the wine more attractive. Jean Méo was to manage the estate from 1959 to 1984, after which he called upon the new generation.
In 1981, the Camuzet estate became Méo-Camuzet, and the first wines bottled under that name were those of the 1983 vintage.