Beaune 1er Clos des Mouches – the 100th year of the vines in the Drouhin Estate

Update 7.6.2021(4.6.2021)billn

100 years of Beaune Clos des Mouches
Zoom tasted(!) 04 June 2021.

Although in existence since 1880, Maison Drouhin were initially involved in the trading and ageing wines.

Maurice Drouhin joined the family company in 1918. In 1921 he decided to buy vines – but they had to be the best and closest possible as all the travel in this time was still by horse. The Clos des Mouches was his choice and he said that he considered this to be the best place in Beaune.

Of course, today, Maison Drouhin are more Domaine Drouhin, owning 80 hectares of vines in over 60 appellations – with 100 miles between the farthest north and south – at least in France – let’s not forget that they are present in Oregon too.

Drouhin owns 14 hectares of Clos des Mouches – that’s 55% of this 25.2-hectare premier cru – the average vine age in their vineyard now over 30, nearer 35. ‘Honey Flies‘ (mouches) but the vines are not much use to the bees as they can’t make honey from these flowers! The labels were designed by current team’s grandfather, Maurice. Roughly planted to half red and white but with various terroirs within, not just because of the higher and lower altitudes but also with much variance in the depth and style of the soils – “It’s a patchwork of red and white and it’s like that because it’s taken us 100 years to work out which parcel works best for which!

The vineyard was always a co-plantation with red and smaller amounts of white which could round out the palate of the reds – and only a red had been produced in the first years of ownership. The inflection point came in 1928; the chardonnays weren’t ripe at the start of the harvest that year so the team began with the reds. When the chardonnay (and pinot blanc in those days) were eventually harvested they went through a separate elevage and the Drouhin team thought – “Oh that’s rather good!” There were only 300 bottles of that cuvée, all bought by a Paris restaurant but since that vintage, they have also made their white Clos des Mouches.

Today, 8-10 days are required to pick the various parcels at optimum ripeness. Each parcel is vinified separately – it’s like that each year – assemblies being chosen towards the end of elevage. For the whites fermentation there are sometimes 5, sometimes 6 different elevages – of different sizes depending on the parcel.

We took a quick look at the 2018 vintage and compared the Clos des Mouches wine with that of their Côte de Beaune wine. The latter from higher vines on the ‘Mountain’ of Beaune but also blended with the young vines declassified from the Clos des Mouches. The white has only these two components as Drouhin have no other premier cru whites in Beaune, but the red Côte de Beaune also has the young vines of other Beaune 1ers included, such as Cras, Champimonts etcetera.

Team Drouhin

Véronique on the 2018 Vintage:
The year started with an early bud- break at the start of April and we already had the flowers in early May. A year that was dry and ‘luminous’ in the summer then veraison already started in mid-July. Aug 30 to September 08 was the actual harvesting window in our Clos des Mouches – some 25% of whole clusters used for the red. Whites bottled after the reds in this vintage – which isn’t always the case but it’s our tasting that will determine.

Note: Half-bottles chez Drouhin are sealed with DIAM – but at this stage, all others are with cork.

2018 Côte de Beaune Blanc
3ha owned, red and white plus some from Clos des Mouches – young vines for instance – mainly 300-370 m high. This white made with no more than 20% new barrels but a lot of 500-litre barrels… no other Beaune whites in this
A honied freshness, still with a depth of citrus, partly floral. I like the flavour attack here – mouth-watering and with fine energy despite the warm vintage. There is an impressive concentration that holds equally impressively in the finish. This is delicious and already drinking great.

2018 Beaune 1er Clos des Mouches Blanc
Aromatically, here is a modest barrel spice but also impressive and complex width too – less overt, less forward than the Côte de Beaune today. The shape and depth of this flavour is more structural, a little saline too – though partly that could be the barrels. A fine sizzle of energy is the spine of the finish here. Impressive, a little structural, barrel and zesty-citrus-inflected finishing flavours. Impressive and obviously for keeping. I’d wait at least 2-3 years before revisiting – the barrel should be history by then.

2018 Côte de Beaune Rouge
Some Cras and Champimonts in here too, not more than 5% whole cluster in total.
Medium colour. A round and very attractive red, acid-cherry, nose. Open, sweet fruit but direct, with fine acidity, an impression of cherry-stone. Bright, slightly phenolic – deliciously phenolic – finishing. A very moreish wine despite the modestly structural elements. Like the white, delicious and already completely approachable – if no rush to drink.

2018 Beaune 1er Clos des Mouches Rouge
We have always been happy to play with the whole clusters here – provided that they are ripe.
Clearly a lot more colour. The cherry-stone-aromas, slightly acidulated accented by the more herby aromatic that comes from the stems – but no overt oak notes here. In the mouth there is much more scale, fine depth of flavour too – again, like the nose, the oak is not overt. Vibrant finishing, a little phenolic bitters in the finish. Rather a complete wine that you should wait at least 2-3 years before revisiting. Excellent wine.

Overall, I was amazed at how well the wines tasted when you consider the logistics involved in filling small sample bottles and then shipping them around Europe – bravo!

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