Tasted in Odenas with Boris Gruy, 05 February 2020.
Château de La Chaize
Tel: +33 04 74 03 41 05
The rate of change at this estate is bewildering; it’s not just the rate of re-planting, or the newly purchased vineyards that are slowly coming on-stream, or even the renovation of their brilliant old cuverie which should be completed in 2020 – before the harvest! It is that all these things being undertaken at the same time as an additional facility is being built for bottling and stocking their bottles – a facility that in itself looks like a major civil-engineering project – it could be a new Metro station! The team here removed part of a hillside and its trees – then they made a very big hole (a Metro-sized hole) – and when the facility is completed, the hillside will return and new trees will be planted. Did I mention that they are also renovating a wing of the château too…?
Of course, my visit here is not to review their project-management skills, rather the wines. The team here started their conversion to organic in 2019; currently, 60 hectares are in production with a large percentage of the domaine in the process of being re-planted. This will eventually leave the domaine working 140 hectares of vines – including their new purchases – they have 99 hectares of Brouilly around the château which also happens to include the monopoly of 8 different climats!
Boris on 2019:
“The harvest yielded only about 27 hl/ha in 2019. Perhaps there was a suggestion that the frost contributed to low yields in a couple of parcels, but mainly it was the dryness of the summer that reduced yields.”
Boris on 2018:
“2018 here brought both quantity and quality – like most of Beaujolais in this vintage – we produced in the range of 40-45 hl/ha.”
A domaine that’s very-much work in progress, yet the results are super – I see great clarity of flavour here.
The only red that is bottled – so far – is the Fleurie, but the next few weeks will see the bottling of the others – they are ready.
Mainly from around La Madone – the new purchase ex Verpoix – comes on stream with the 2019 vintage. Vinifications are largely as before, 12 days maceration, mainly destemmed, the amount of whole-clusters is mainly to aid drainage, followed by 12 months in older foudres for elevage.
A narrow nose but one of both freshness and depth. Round, very silky, a sweetness but nicely done – very pretty fruit. That’s absolutely delicious – so different to the Morgons and MaVs already tasted. Excellent!
The following all from the new foudres – big foudres of 90 hl:
2018 Brouilly Foudre 1 La Chaize
Of-course the monopoly here – the hillside behind château! 14 days of maceration, was harvested about 12 September.
That’s showing a nice aromatic freshness – deeper, darker fruit in support. More drive and direction, round, a little extra structure – nothing overt from the wood. Round and again very delicious – excellent wine.
2018 Brouilly Foudre 7 Combiliaty
Identical vinification as the previous wine. ‘An area normally more virile and tannic.’
An extra freshness of aroma. This has another level of drive and energy – structure too – more in the Morgon style vs the rounder Fleurie style of the Chaize. A big finish – sweet finishing and very long
The first vintage for this. Older vines – more than 60-years-old. A granitic sand in the vines – west-facing so the last of the vines to be harvested. A couple of days more maceration than the Brouillys.
Lots of colour. Deep, freshly ripe dark fruit. Hmm – that has volume, flavour dimension, fresh fruit – growing in intensity – love the energy and nice structure here. A finishing power and delicious coulis of finishing fruit. Love that!
2018 Côte de Brouilly Brûlhier
The second vintage that this has been produced – the same climat as the cuvée from Château Thivin. Plain-south-facing, bluestone area.
A more guarded nose but with depth and concentration at the base. Hmm – that has a fine presence in the mouth – wide, not too insistent, fine shape, melting with flavour – a faint heat, but delicious finishing – that has a super finish. Really excellent wine.
And a look back at last year’s wines:
2017 Brouilly La Chaize
Was bottled in January 2019.
An extra freshness, faintly herbed in complexity too. Round, easy but there’s also depth and concentration here – I like the width, there’s quite some salinity – starting modestly but growing in stature and interest – it leaves a super impression – finish in the style of a great Brouilly!
2017 Brouilly Combiliaty
Also a nose that’s tighter, faintly herbed but more than hinting about the depth of fruit – swirling slowly develops the herb more towards floral notes. More structural, a width of fine-grained tannin at the base, and a width of flavour that’s absolutely delicious – a wine that, like the last, that just gets better and better in the mouth – it finishes great!
Not officially organic but all the soils are worked as organic, the vigneron reserving the ‘right’ to make a treatment if required. ‘The guy makes the work like it was his garden’ says Boris.
A lovely width of aroma – nothing shy about this aroma – some stone fruit impression. Mouth-filling – also nothing shy about this flavour – a nice easy agrume fruit and a certain modest level of minerality too – fine and layered in the finish. That’s a good wine of balance and tasty flavour.