a tale of two griottes: chézeaux & chézeaux…

Update 3.8.2012(1.8.2012)billn

Domaine des Chézeaux, by a big margin the largest owners of Griotte-Chambertin, have two metayeurs for their holdings (the two parcels were acquired at different times); Domaine René Leclerc and Domaine Ponsot. For a number of years there was confusion about who made the wine that was sold under the Chézeaux label; the first step to improving this was the addition of the metayeur’s name on the front label, the second was to goto just one wine – in this case they marketed only the Ponsot wine and passed a couple of barrels (ex Leclerc) off into the trade. Now for the 2010 vintage they have, once again, decided to sell both metayeurs’ versions. This is the essence of Burgundian complexity, all from one small 1.6 ha microcosm; a Leclerc label, a Ponsot label, this year two Chézeaux labels and some years, négoce labels too – all derived from one owner!

A Griotte-Chambertin aide memoire…

  • Vintage 2001 and older – Chézeaux wine could be from either producer
  • Vintage 2002, 2003 & now 2010 – name of the producer is found on the labels
  • Vintage 2004 to 2009 – only the Ponsot wine under a Chézeaux label

And here are the two ‘Chézeaux’ from 2010, and clearly the moment you cut the foil, you will know which bottle you have. Here is the crux, the grapes come from the same vineyard, but there the similarity ends. Vines are cared for in different ways, yields are not the same, harvesting dates are different, macerations/extractions that differ, one wine made with new wood and sulfur, the other with low sufur and no new wood, bottling at different dates, and finally, sealed with cork by Leclerc and plastic (Ardea) by Ponsot. At least in their youth, I would be amazed if there is any similarity between the two – and clearly there isn’t…

2010 des Chézeaux (Leclerc), Griotte-Chambertin
The cork doesn’t smell all that great – not TCA, but strangely musty – fortunately the wine seems okay. Medium, medium-plus colour. The nose is a fine advertisement for ‘Griotte’ with a very pretty core of shiny red fruit – more cranberry/redcurrant than cherry – relatively simple in its youthfulness, but lovely. A hint of cushioning to the texture and an understated lick of tannin too. The acidity, like the tannin, seems rather understated but bubbles through as the mid-palate intensity grows, and becomes more mouth-watering. Subtly long. This is a very pretty wine that is also very ‘young Griotte’ in terms of its beauty yet lack of complexity – a perfectly balanced wine to wait for.
Rebuy – Yes

2010 des Chézeaux (Ponsot), Griotte-Chambertin
Previously tasted from barrel. Medium-plus colour – certainly a shade darker than the Leclerc. The nose starts very shy, just a stewed fruit note. The aromas eventually widen a little but it’s far from compelling! In the mouth, however, this is very impressive indeed: A pure essence of intense fruit – it’s cordial-like. Like the nose there is the slightest suggestion of stewed fruit in the mid-palate but it quickly widens to cherry stones and a faint hint of cream that is very long. I preferred this wine from barrel, but Ponsot wines are made to be drunk from 20 years – let’s see! On day two, the nose is much more ‘up my strasse’ with a beam of pure fruit – the stewed aspects now departed.
Rebuy – Yes

Of the two, I think I’d rather drink the Leclerc today, and I should say there is much less rusticity here than there once was (since (son) François Leclerc has been given his head) but the greatest fun will be found in future comparisons!

Agree? Disagree? Anything you'd like to add?

There are 3 responses to “a tale of two griottes: chézeaux & chézeaux…”

  1. Don Cornwell4th August 2012 at 9:34 pmPermalinkReply

    If they only devoted some real effort in the vineyard. At a recent Griotte tasting, Chezaux (from 88-99) and the domaine-labled Ponsot were consistently second class compared to Drouhin, Roty and Fourrier. In my opinion, Chezaux is not worth buying at any price — no matter which label is on it.

    • billn4th August 2012 at 10:16 pmPermalinkReply

      Wow, I don’t often disagree with you Don, but I’ve bought direct since about 2003 (99-01 first purchases) and am more than happy with what I have…

  2. Don Cornwell5th August 2012 at 1:04 amPermalinkReply

    Perhaps things have changed for the better after 1999, but based on this tasting I would be highly skeptical. It was something we all universally agreed on too. Drouhin and Roty at the top, Fourrier in the middle, Cheazaux and Ponsot at the bottom. And with the exception of the 1990, where the bottle wasn’t marked (and thus could be Esmonin or Ponsot), all of the Chezaux labels we had were from Ponsot.

    • billn5th August 2012 at 5:20 pmPermalinkReply

      Should I assume you also don’t rate Ponsot’s other wines Don? I’m just a little confused by your earlier statement “If they only devoted some real effort in the vineyard” – clearly this has nothing at all to do with Chézeaux (they only ‘own’) as work is done by Ponsot and Leclerc, and Ponsot’s efforts will be no different to their Clos de la Roche / Clos St.Denis etc.. Though many vines were replanted (if I remember well) in the 1980s…

  3. Don Cornwell6th August 2012 at 10:25 pmPermalinkReply

    Perhaps it is the age of the vines or perhaps the clones used I like the Ponosot CDLR and CSD from 2005 on, but not between 1991 and 2004. (The 1999 and 2002 CDLR were just okay in my view.) The Chambertin (from Chezaux) I’ve never been impressed with any vintage of and that goes back to 1985. The Griotte has largely been the same experience for me.

    • billn7th August 2012 at 6:49 amPermalinkReply

      Well it’s fair to say that the Chambertin (location, vines?) is often behind certain other producers, but I think it an excellent wine, and frankly a snip at Chézeaux pricing – I’d look elsewhere at Ponsot pricing. Generally it seems a taste thing re Ponsot, I like them, so the CSD 99 is one of the greatest wines I ever tasted – don’t have experience of the CDR though…

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