Being wrong about something should be approached with grace and humility which is why we will hold our hands up and say that we, wrongly, judged a wine solely on the basis of its name.
A gaudy wine label or an off the wall name has a tendency to make us wary of the wine it is advertising. And we admit that when we first heard of Mischief and Mayhem we made a judgement before ever trying the wines or even knowing anything about them. For a Burgundy producer the name seemed far too frivolous and frankly, English. Burgundy is to be taken seriously and all with a very French air. Being wrong about a wine is something we can live with though especially when you happen upon something you greatly enjoy.
A chance purchase of a small number of cases of the 2016 Meursault introduced us to Mischief and Mayhem. Having never heard of them we were wary but a customer recommendation encouraged us to be more open minded. Here was a wine that kept us interested for the whole bottle; each glass evolving into something very different from the first but all characteristically Burgundian, although possibly not quite Meursault. There is a purity to this wine that allows for complexity and depth without ever becoming weighty. It sparked an interest and we embarked upon tasting others from their range and found ourselves just as intrigued.
Mischief and mayhem began life in 2003 as a micro négociant set up by Michael Ragg and Fiona Traill-Stevenson. They moved from the UK to Aloxe-Corton with the view to making great wine in a region so many have tried and failed in before. They found success and have since been granted full Domaine status thanks to the purchase of vineyards across the Côte d’Or and their range has grown to include several Premier Crus and one Grand Cru. The purity we found in the Meursault is something that runs throughout their wines and is a reflection of the practices they use in both the viticulture and winemaking process. They seem to be keen to capture the true character of the grapes they use and the land on which they are grown. Whether this works out for every vintage and every wine is a different matter. Having tried varying vintages of the same wine the differences can be great but for us that makes these wines all the better. Wines that are carbon copies of each other year on year are hard to achieve but leave us a little flat; nuanced changes in each vintage thanks to climate and growing conditions give wines their connection to the environment they come from.
Having recently found out that the origin of the name involved a rather lengthy lunch of the kind we all long for these days, we can happily get on board with the mischief and mayhem they bring to the vineyards of Burgundy.
It is tempting to buy the entire range from a producer we like but we decided to play it safe by acquiring those wines we truly enjoyed from years we felt really captured that purity of fruit the Domaine strives for.
2014 Mischief and Mayhem Chambolle-Musigny £60 per bottle
Although a village Chambolle-Musigny this elegant and balanced burgundy has a lot to offer and is excellent value (according to our tastes). It has classic feminine Chambolle characteristics but with a little more weight than many.
2013 Mischief and Mayhem Volnay £35 per bottle
A lovely example of delicate Pinot Noir. This Volnay from the sometimes tricky 2013 vintage shows the typical, elegant, feminine characters of this village in the Côte de Beaune, a lighter version of its neighbour Pommard. The pale colour belies the intensely fragrant flavours that build up in the glass.
Although it has been oak aged for 12 months it doesn’t hinder the purity of the fruit.
2013 Mischief and Mayhem Bourgogne Pinot Noir £19 per bottle
This is a blend of Pinot Noir grapes grown in various vineyards in the Côte d’Or.
Again, quite pale in colour but full of dry cherry flavours. It has hints of the classic truffle and gamey characteristics so often found in the more traditional style of Red Burgundy. Don’t rush this as it really does develop once it’s had time to breath in the glass.