Vézelay from the air via AuxerreTV – here.
You may have come across the label Bourgogne Vézelay – an appellation/label created only in 1998 – but one that’s already going to be phased out. The new kid in town is Vézelay – and it’s a villages appellation.
The INAO (Institut National des Appellations d’Origine) voted on May 3rd to install the new communal appellation of Vézelay. This appellation is for dry white wine, produced from the chardonnay grape with the ‘traditional’ Burgundian approaches of high planting densities, short pruning, plus training of the vines – vines only from the communes of Asquins, Saint Père, Tharoiseau and of-course Vélelay! – all in the south of the Yonne department (89). Maximum yields per hectare will have to drop from 60 to 55 hectoliters per hectare, and the required minimum alcoholic degree will increase by 0.5°.
According to the INAO:
- The Vézelay AOC covers about 90 hectares, divided between 25 producers, 10 of which are members of a cooperative. One-third of the area is farmed with an organic approach. The production is close to 2,800 hectolitres. Export is growing and accounts for 20% of the production volume.
- The ‘Vézelien’ region is located at the edge of the Morvan Natural Regional Park, in the south of the Yonne department in Burgundy. The vines are grouped on the hillsides of the four communes of Asquins, Saint Père, Tharoiseau and Vézelay on both sides of the valley of the Cure – a river of the Yonne.
- The vineyard occupies the slopes of the Cure and its lateral valleys between 250 and 300 meters of altitude. On the left bank, the subsoils consist of Bathonian marls and limestones of the middle Jurassic period, while the right bank slopes consist of a more predominant clay over rock from the lower Jurassic period.
The previous appellation of Bourgogne Vézelay had a potential planting area of 330 hectares, though it was actually very far from reaching these levels – currently there are 110 hectares planted – and with multiple grape varieties – only 90 of which are currently chardonnay. Note that about two-thirds of the vines were frosted in 2016, and there was frost again this year. Outside of the delimited area it will still be possible to produce Bourgogne Rouge and Bourgogne Blanc.
Whilst 2017 is anticipated to be the first vintage for the new label, everything (administrative) in France is complicated; first the old Bourgogne-Vézelay label must disappear, but then it’s also necessary to get all the ‘wine-growing syndicats‘ to agree – and anything regarding regional appellations has been hard work in recent years. So let’s see!