Benoît Eschard, 36, has been a wine enthusiast since he was a student. Since joining them in 2013, he has been making two traditional eau-de-vie spirits on his in-laws’ 8.5 hectare wine estate in Mercurey. He produces a Marc de Bourgogne and a Fine de Bourgogne from the Pinot Noir, which is also used for the red Mercurey. These two spirits are classified as AOCs. The Marc is more rustic than the Fine as it is produced from the distillation of grape pomace (all that remains of the grapes after pressing: skins, stalks and seeds). Benoît calls on the services of a distiller for distillation. The alcohol from the still is then aged in oak casks, previously used for white Mercurey, for ten years (longer than the required 2-5 years). Like Cognac and Armagnac, the Fine de Bourgogne is made from the distillation of the wine, or more precisely, the fine lees from the wine’s racking. These Fines are typically aged at least 3 years in oak casks before being enjoyed, but are aged for much longer at Domaine Jeannin Naltet.
It is this ageing process that allows the alcohol to slowly evaporate and for the precious liquid to acquire its softness and complexity. The Fine may be "vieille" (3 years), "très vieille" (6 years) or "hors d’âge" (10 years ageing in wood), as is the case of the Fine 2001, which reveals a lovely smooth character with extraordinary notes of cocoa. The Marc 2003 is well-balanced and offers up notes of walnut, curry, dried apricot, toast, toasted almonds and leather. The domaine also produces a Ratafia, a “muted” wine that marries Marc de Bourgogne with juice from the Aligoté grape. "This is a tradition that is tending to get lost because it’s not at the centre of the wine producer’s work. Yet this after-dinner spirit is excellent, after a meal, on long, relaxed winter evenings.”