Profile: Céline et Nicolas Hirsch


Tasted in Chénas with Céline Hirsch, 13 February 2017.

Domaine Céline et Nicolas Hirsch
Les Brureaux
69840 Chénas
Tel: +33 3 85 33 50 40

This husband and wife team bought their domaine in 2011 – as you might guess, the name Hirsch hails from the Alsace, they worked together in the Languedoc but were really more interested to find a base where ‘The terroir spoke a little loader than the sun.‘ Today they have 5.50 hectares of vines, mainly Chénas, also a little MAV and Julienas too. Céline explains that they are ‘raisonnée’ in the vines with some ploughing, though it’s not as easy as they would like as they have a lot of old vines on slopes – for that reason, they’ve even terraced a small section of vines not far from the domaine. They are also planning to plant a little sylvaner in a parcel currently occupied by 100-year-old-plus vines, that unfortunately no-longer provide a viable yield.

They choose to harvest their fruit into 25 kg cases ‘and we try not to extract too much’ says Céline. Their cuverie dates from 2007 and houses concrete tanks and an old Vaslin Press. There is some destemming here, but it depends on the raw materials…

About 30% is exported from here. They have two hectares which they acquired in 2016 and these were sold in bulk in that first year, but the other 3.5 are all commercialised here.

Céline on 2016:
In 2016 we had a little hail on one parcel of MAV. We were lucky it was a good harvest, the old vines did well, and had a good maturity – a natural 13°. For us it’s a good vintage that properly resembles Beaujolais – it’s very sympathetic.

Céline on 2015:
We started our harvest about the 26 August – 25 hl/ha was the result. There was a lot of sun on the grapes, a hot year, though one that needed only half the work in the vines – but then we only got half a harvest too!

The wines…

Really a great range. Well done!

2016 Beaujolais Villages
A small cuvée of actual Chénas vines, but a wine made ‘for glou, glou…’
A bright and actually deep fruit nose – very open red fruit. Sweet, supple, really good texture like sucking a ripe fruit – good concentration and delicious fruit – it’s really a summer drink, I almost want to put ice-cubes in it. Quite long actually too – yum!

2015 Chénas
Mainly whole cluster 12 days of maceration and fermentation then 6 months in tank, bottled March.
Hmm – that’s a lovely, transparent, faintly spiced and beautifully deep nose – I’m in! Fine volume in the mouth and a really lovely freshness too. Wide, faintly salted layers of finishing flavour. Nothing overblown about this fresh and tasty 2015 – bravo!
2015 Julienas
Same method as the previous Chenas, ‘so the difference is the terroir.’ Here the vines sit on blue schist rather than the granite of the Chenas. ‘Normally its lighter than the Chenas, but not in 2015!’
The nose starts a little more guarded, but still spicy up top and with a depth of darker fruit. Hmm, this has more weight and a really super, mouth-watering sweetness of fine fruit – ooh that’s really, really good. Bravo!
2015 Moulin à Vent
Destemmed, a little cool maceration and then about 2 weeks of fermentation, 12 months of barrel then bottled September – 228 litre barrels, principally 3-4 year old barrels. ‘For us these are for longer keeping and for enjoying with food.’
The oak has added a little cushioning to the nose but the vanilla is very subtle – mainly it’s a glossy, redder, fruit. Fresh, bright, a little more cushioning, more red fruit – like the nose – layers in the mid-palate and finishing flavour – really tasty in the finish. Long and lasting fine flavour. Bravo again – it’s very easy sometimes this wine-tasting!

2015 Chénas Les Brureaux
‘A well known terroir in Chénas and of-course it surrounds our house – lots of old vines and made in the same manner as the MAV.’
Sweet, conserve fruit, dark-red fruit, a welcoming freshness too. Really a more obvious freshness and a little more volume in the mouth. The texture is less fine than the MAV but there is also much more energy and a concentrated line of flavour that goes into the finish. A subtle but attractive bitterness in the finishing flavour but it’s excellent all the same. Lovely wine!

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