Profile: Domaine du Clos du Roi


Tasted in Coulanges la Vineuse with Magali Bernard, 05 January 2018.

Domaine du Clos du Roi
17 rue André Vildieu
89580 Coulanges la Vineuse
Tel: +33 3 86 42 25 72

I first met Magali Bernard when blind tasting wines for the ‘Young Talent’ winemaker trophy last year. Magali had previously been a nominated winemaker, so I wanted to make a visit during my Chablis tour – the domaine is really very close to Irancy and Saint-Bris – I’m happy to report that it was very worthwhile!

On the High Street of Coulanges, opposite plenty of parking, sits the domaine – but it’s not just a domaine – there is a Bar à Vins with a nice ambience too. I asked Magali if there was much of a passing trade “Yes it’s quite good because we have the old Route Nationale close by, we’re just 10km from the Autoroute and it’s just 5 km to Irancy. So it’s not just locals but plenty of Parisians too as Coulanges was, for generations, a well-renowned supplier to Paris, the wines use to get there very easily by boat to Paris-Bercy via Auxerre. We serve all local products here, which works very well, though it was a bit of a departure from what my parents did and I still don’t think they are sure about it, but I worked for a while in New Zealand and saw that there was more than one way to sell wine!

The wine domaine was started by Magali’s grandparents, previously here was the polyculture of region – grain, cherries and vines. The domaine takes its name from a large local vineyard that really is a proper walled Clos – they own 3 hectares here. In the 1980s the domaine started to sell in bottle though still today none is exported. The domaine sell from here and they have a good trade with restaurants and cavistes. For elevage the cellar has foudres – there are no stainless steel tanks to be seen here. The domaine is producing 4 red and two white cuvées. Not content with just including a more than modest amount of cesar in one of her cuvées. Magali also produces something of a rarity – a wine that is effectively a Solera!

The big frost that hit much of Burgundy was rather modest in this area thy keep their fingers crossed but lost not much, likewise they have some natural protection to hail too – it comes but depending on the direction half the area might be hit but not the whole.

The wines…

First the traditional cuvée: All destemmed, with 12-18 months foudre elevage:

2016 Bourgogne Coulanges la Vineuse Tradition
The ‘traditional’ cuvée here
A bright and forward, fresh nose – it’s quite pretty. Lots of volume, a small rasp of tannin, with a depth of fresh flavour and no hard aspects. Quite a pretty mouth-watering finish that’s long with nice bitters as a counterpoint. Lovely!

2012 Bourgogne Coulanges la Vineuse Tradition
Deep, vibrant, starting to have some maturity, almost an inky depth to the nose – super. Nice volume in the mouth, dark flavoured, silky, slowly a little latent tannin begins to show, but there’s a lot of character to this wine. Refreshing, a little herbed but always interesting and tasty – yum! I find this excellent.

2006 Bourgogne Coulanges la Vineuse Tradition
More maturity to the colour. A less intense but more complex nose. More volume, more cushioning from the tannin, a wine that is still young and alive, widening in the delicious finish. Super! A less rich vintage here in Coulanges.

The next cuvée, also officially Bourgogne Coulanges la Vineuse, is named Coline, after Magali’s daughter. A manual harvest, a cool maceration with fermentation taking place in stone vats including up to 15% cesar vinified together with the pinot, though if the maturity of pinot and cesar is too far apart then separately, of-course. The cesar is perhaps as much as 60 hl/ha as these are big clusters, but to balance the young pinot vines are pruned very short. About 12-18 months of elevage in foudre:

2015 Bourgogne Coulanges la Vineuse, Coline
A wilder nose, herbed, complex, almost a wildness that recalls pyrazines. This is a very suavely textured wine – the tannin grows but is never more than a velvet cushioning. Really lovely wine and long too.

2012 Bourgogne Coulanges la Vineuse, Coline
Just a little paler colour. A wide nose, finer through age, the pyrazine tending towards a more floral aspect. Lovely in the mouth again, silkier, concentrated, bright and delicious in the mid and finishing flavours.

Chanvan is name now given to the old Clos du Roi vineyard from which the domaine takes its name. Mainly but not completely destemmed, barrel-aged for up to 24 months:

2015 Bourgogne Coulanges la Vineuse, Chanvan
Not yet commercialised, but bottled.
A faint oak spice behind a beautifully fresh and very inviting pinot fruit. Lots of flavour dimension here, but depth of concentrated flavour too. Wide, persistent and deliciously fresh.

2014 Bourgogne Coulanges la Vineuse, Chanvan
Much less colour – it’s the vintage, there was more rendement – a modest spice, faint pyrazine. Fine texture again, these wines all feel great in the mouth. The finish is spicily complex with an accent of sucrosity. Very tasty wine!

2012 Bourgogne Coulanges la Vineuse, Chanvan (Tastevinage)
Colour similar to that of the 2014. Much more aromatic complexity – even an impression of silken texture to the nose – but a little oak here too. A constant theme of lots of mouth-filling volume, density of flavour but with fine delivery and great texture. Perhaps the best finish yet – lovely – but I’d still wait for a little time so there’s less oak accent…

And to finish the reds – a Solera! Named by cuvée:

l’Intemporelle No 1
A blend of the vintages of 2012, 2013 and 2014
A hont of extra sweetness to this nose, but it’s not the most overt. Transparent, pure flavoured, complex. Simply delicious wine of freshness and fine fruit – I can’t pick the vintage 😉

l’Intemporelle No 2
25% from l’Intemporelle No 1, plus 25% each of 2013, 2014 and 2015. so l’Intemporelle No 3 will be a blend of l’Intemporelle No 2 and 2014, 2015 and 2016 – get it?
Fresh but redder fruited and more complex. Hmm, fine texture again, hmm, great depth of ripe and open-armed fruit. Super delicious. This is great wine and dangerously, very mouth-watering, moreish wine! Coulanges à point!

Les blancs:
Two whites but the same vines harvested the same day and only after settling (debourbages) does the elevage differ.

2016 Bourgogne Coulanges la Vineuse Blanc, Charly
Named after Magali’s little boy. Fermentation in oak.
Ooh, a big, open, fresh pear-fruit nose with a faint lime complexity at the edges. Lovely shape and fine sweetness of delicious flavour, very faintly sweetened. Delicious, easy wine…

2016 Bourgogne Coulanges la Vineuse Blanc
All oak elevage for this wine.
Deep, spicy, buttery complex depth of aroma. Big, bright, fruity, growing complex depth, hard to assume that these last two wines are from the same place – silky, buttery but tasty chardonnay in the persistent finish – very tasty even for this oak-a-phobe!

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