Profile: Château de la Chaize


Tasted in Odenas with Caroline de Roussy de Sales, 21 February 2017.

Château de La Chaize
69460 Odenas
Tel: +33 04 74 03 41 05

Even for those with no interest in wine, this splendid Château and its gardens are, in their own right, worthy of a special detour to visit. Under the shadow of the Mont Brouilly the château, built over a house of the middle-ages, sits, with its Italian-style and organic gardens, within 100 hectares of its own domaine vines – a single exploitation over 2 hillsides. Only the occasional cannon breaks the peace – to dissuade the woodpeckers from attacking the house!

It is an old estate – the oldest parts dating from the 12th century – renamed La Chaize in about 1676. It has remained in the hands of various branches of the same family since that time. Beginning in the late-1960s the current owners began an extensive renovation of the château, its winery and its gardens – all listed by the French Historic Monuments and the Ministry of Culture in 1972 – on an estate such as this, renovation is a constant!

As part of the renovation in the vines, since 2000, parcels of goblet-pruned vines that were due to be replaced have been replanted with cordon-pruned vines. The new plantings more easily allow working of the soil. At the same time “agriculture raisonnée” has been adopted across the domaine.

At the entrance of the estate sits the cuverie – an impressively long building with a cellar 108 metres long. The exterior of the cuverie covered in stone from domaine’s own quarry – all granite rose – except that you might also notice around the doors and windows some small amount of limestone from lower in the village. “Here we sit in a pocket of granite on the middle of a sea of Burgundian limestone,” notes Caroline. The cuverie is also a monument historique with anecdotes of its past, such as parts of old presses from the 1600s, that mark some of its entrances.

Caroline explains that the domaine uses long macerations, with elevage in foudres, barrels and tanks. They are also starting to use some 500 litre barrels – in the main, 2-5 year-old barrels. Their rosé comes from selected parcels, and is made as a ‘vin de presse‘ that’s bottled after 6 months – never with elevage in wood.

France is the domaine’s main market, taking a little over half the domaine’s production “It’s a market that very loyal and constant” notes Caroline. The domaine also sell direct, not just from the domaine, but also online – that latter avenue is growing particularly well.

Caroline on 2016:
We had just a little hail, in one sector, but no frost. These days there seems to be no rules, it seems we have stronger winds that break the shoots on the vines, also in many years we seem to have no winters, the sap has no chance to descend in the vine.

The wines…

I like the consistent ‘line’ that all these wines share. A super address with ‘correct’ prices of 11-25 Euros plus 8 Euros for the rosé.

2015 Rosé
An attractive, slightly rich and floral nose – very inviting. Actually rather nicely fresh in the mouth, again with a little florality, faint salinity and a very nice and precise line. Very nice indeed.

2014 Rosé
A little less colour – a more overt, indeed attractive, floral nose. More direct, more freshness – actually a little more mid-palate width of flavour too. Ooh, this is good! long and satisfying…

2014 Brouilly
9 months in foudre, almost sold out now.
Hmm, a large nose – round and with an attractive red fruit. Fresh, rather direct – the acidity is to the fore, but there is also a very nice, balancing, and silky texture to the wine – a hint confiture to the fruit without an overt sweetness. This is long finishing with an attractive accent of bitterness. Fresh and very tasty – a simple, attractive, indeed very attractive apero wine… The nose slowly padding out more and more – lovely!

2015 Brouilly
Not the widest nose but there is a fine and fresh depth of darker red fruit. Still direct in style, a great attack, much more depth – layers of flavour here, still with a silken texture but more richness of flavour too. Excellent!

2015 Brouilly Vieilles-Vignes
Vines of up to 85 years old, 2-5 year-old barrel elevage. Caroline will not commercialise just yet, maybe in another 18-24 months. Started with this cuvée in 1985
The nose has a little more volume but a little less density – fine points of focused fruit in the depth though. More weight of flavour here, a rounder style with really a growing intensity of flavour – no overt oak, just layers of excellent flavour. Fresh, beautifully flowing over the palate, faintly mineral finishing. This is really an excellent glass.

2013 Brouilly Vieilles-Vignes
Really a fine depth to the aromatic – slowly augmenting here with a suggestion of wood – but complex and very attractive. Actually there is quite some volume in the mouth, still plenty of structure but it is beginning to melt over the palate. This is coming close to drinking, maybe give it another 6-12 months and you will have extra reward. Excellent in the finish…

2014 Le Reserve de la Marquise
All new barrel elevage from old vines not a big cuvée
A nice width and a complex depth, yet there is a little tightness here. Nice volume and excellent width. Intense, complex, waves of flavour, a little oak but considering the elevage it is rather more discreet than you would expect. A modest micro-grain of tannin. A linear line of flavour going long, long, long – a characteristic of all the wines here. This is excellent….

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