Volnay Clos de la Chapelle – 2014

Update 24.5.2016(6.5.2016)billn

DSC09773Tasted in Beaune with Mark O’Connell, 22 March 2016 – right, Mark unlocking the Clos de la Chapelle.

Domaine Clos de la Chapelle
3 rue de Grenier à Sel
21200 Beaune
Tel: +1 816 223 0257

Mark on 2014:
“We did 22 hl/ha for the domaine with a target of 35; 22 is easily half of what the previous owners did. There was some oïdium pressure but that was clearly secondary to the hail – Champimonts was completely lost for the second consecutive vintage. In Pernand, Sous Fretille avoided the hail, but not the Corton-Charlemagne. The other Corton grand crus were spared – actually it was our first ‘correct’ vintage in Corton since the domaine was assembled. So, we automatically lost 9 barrels in Champimonts.”

Mark on 2015:
“Only 23-24 hl/ha in 2015 – the juice to solid ratio, given the heat was the issue. It was a great flowering season, though some of the still damaged vines produced no flowers at all. We had vines in 2015 that were absolutely gorgeous, with vibrant foliage, but delve through the leaves, and there were no clusters. We’re still actually missing some buds in 2016, so I’m still not expecting a bumper crop in Volnay and Pommard.”

It’s interesting to see the progression of this domaine’s production since its first vintage in 2011:

  • 400 cases from 1.4 ha in 2011
  • Just 120 cases from 1.4 ha in 2012!
  • In 2013 the domaine added 5 more appellations but still only 650 cases were produced.
  • 2014 and 2015 were each a small increment larger.
The wines…

Wow – what a great set of wines shown today. I’m often a little early tasting in this domaine’s process of elevage, yet, tasting later in this vintage, these wines were not just more open and lacking CO2, they seemed more vibrant, layered and less extracted. I thought them brilliant. Probably this reflects the inadequacies of my (November) tasting timing at many domaines…

Mark on his approach:
”Our oldest barrels are 2 years old. François, medium toast barrels, but we do 24 months of elevage. I’m looking for a neutral barrel regime so I can see the vineyard differences – if we have enough wine, we would do 20-30% new oak, but that hasn’t yet been feasible. I’m non-dogmatic about stems, simply asking myself ‘what’s the nature of the appellation, and would it benefit?’ Second, ‘what is the nature of the year’s stems and pips?’ In 2014 our grand crus were 50% whole cluster. – I think the Bressandes and Rognets really benefited from that in 2014. Whereas, I have the impression that Carelles would never benefit from stems because of its innate refinement I think stems might detract or confuse what this Volnay should be.”

I love that Mark is so grounded in the technicalities of his wines, and even the individual baguette of his vines and how many buds he has in each year.

Mainly all the wines were bottled in November

2014 Beaune 1er Les Teurons
0.25 ha with just 2 barrels from potentially 4.
A deep nose – no new oak, yet there are dark hints of it. Supple, concentrated wine with a fine extra dimension of flavour. A hint of tannin texture, but only a hint. Contemplative, concentrated wine with some style…

2014 Volnay 1er En Carelle
0.35 ha with 5 barrels produced, one new barrel. Planted about 1960. Some brown clay, lots of small rocks on reasonably deep soil.
Hmm – there’s a hint of aromatic padding, but really here is a cushioned loveliness. Wide, layered, beautiful across the palate – really a ‘bravo’ wine. Excellent!
2014 Volnay 1er Clos de la Chapelle
Bought in two lots by Victor Boillot in 1865 and them 1870. The Lavalle map of 1855 shows this contigious with the next vineyard – Pitures – but this is 1m higher and the wall is there, so Mark isn’t sure. Here a lighter, browner, as opposed to redder soil vs En Chapelle. Also planted between the Mid 50s and early 60s. The cabotte is now renovated though seemingly with more paperwork needed than for planting a vineyard! This clos extends to 0.55 ha or 13.2 ouvrees. ’Slightly higher elevation chalkier with more limestone, really those are the elements that I think you can taste on the mid-palate. 0.55 ha, again 5 barrels produced with one new. Here the vines run east-west, so when the hail hit, it did much more damage (40%) vs the north-south trained vines.’
A silky width, but today more barrel toast inflected, but there is a slow release of pretty , focused and discrete herb and fruit references. This becomes really rather beautiful in the glass. Wide, more authoritative in the mouth, a certain chalkiness of fruit – gorgeous slowly delivered clarity. Beautiful wine… Flowers are the first finishing reference and a slowly decaying sweetness of fruit.

2014 Volnay 1er Taillepieds
Much, much lighter soil. Much stonier too.’Totally different – 50m higher in elevation with multiple types of limestone. 0.47 ha, though only 3 barrels in 2014. We already had declining yields in this vineyard, ignoring the hail, so at the end of 15 I decided to replant 2 sections, half was done last week. The best yielding half remains. I’m working with Jean-Pierre de Smet from Arlot using his masalle selections. Clos Chapelle started their own masalle selection, but it can take 5-10 years to be in a position to propagate.’ A bottom to top parcel, Bottled 1 month – This wine always takes longer to go through malo. Three barrels, one new.
Almost a smoky width of complex aroma. Very fine, if modest depth. Large in the mouth, mouth-watering flavour – I would say a grand cru in stature. This is complex, never aggressive but with superb concentration. A fine, wide, fresh finishing flavour – encore bravo…

2014 Pommard 1er Chanlins VV
On the border of Volnay and Pommard with average vine-age here is 85 years old, some repicage, but still can make over 30 hl/ha – though not in 2014!
Beautiful, comforting, cushioned aromatics– beautiful and inviting. Wide, beautiful energy and clarity of fruit – a little more overt energy and a hint more tannin, but really just an anecdote. Super wine!

2014 Pommard 1er Epenots
Bottled Feb due to late malo – ‘always the wine with the most acidity in the range, relative to other cuvées.’
Gorgeous, a sort of chocolaty width, without offering overt chocolate – simply gorgeous. A little more tannin but also more energy and more complex of very fine fruit. Simply gorgeous wine that needs a hint more time than the others – but if it didn’t, it wouldn’t be Epenots. Fabulous.

2014 Corton Rognets
50% whole cluster.
Really a width of finely spiced, beautiful aroma. Big, mouth-filling wine. Fine density, and a bubbling, discreet but close to perfect energy below. Simply a beautiful wine – full stop! A fine herby fresh lift to the super impressive finishing fruit. A gorgeous wine that could be enjoyed today – really!

It’s clear to me that this is, by some margin, the very best wines from this new domaine…

2014 Corton Bressandes
Again 50% whole cluster. 3 barrels, one of which was new. A February bottling.
Some time in the glass is needed for this to blossom – but blossom it does with a very fine floral top note over a still tighter base. In the mouth there’s more overt energy and a little more structure too – this is Corton after-all. Beautiful complexity of flavour and a wine that you ought to wait longer for. The finish is more modest of fruit with the tannin a little more forward. Super!

And les Blancs…

2014 Beaune 1er Reversees Blanc
The only white from this vineyard that Mark knows of. The previous owner had all the red he wanted so replanted a section in white. This section does have plenty of limestone so it seems not badly placed. Farmed organically for the last 10 years – Normally would make 4 barrels, but only 2 due to the hail”
This has a rather mineral nose – far from ‘typical’ Beaune blanc. Full and with a certain sweetness, but really a nice line that cuts a little cushioning texture. This is a blend almost of, sweet and sour – going well together. Very tasty wine. Yum!

2014 Pernand-Vergelesses 1er Sous Fretille
The first vintage bottled; botrytis ‘killed’ the previous vintage.
A nice fresh aromatic – almost a chalky core of fruit – it’s a fresh and inviting nose. Wide, gowing, leaching fresh flavour – really good complexity. A faint salinity – here is also a fine and modestly mineral aspect to this wine. One or two wave s of fine finishing flavour too. A fine 2014 and 14 is such a fine vintage!

2014 Corton-Charlemagne
From the Pernand side in En-Charlemagne – Mark particularly looking for leaner, more angular rather than riper style – ‘ because you can’t do that in Montrachet’. We don’t pick late, then use a Champagne-style, short, 3-3.5 hour press of whole clusters. Debourbade overnight with an early morning racking into barrel with plenty of lees. Once per month batonnage after malo, until about 2 months before bottling. 3 barrels of this from 0.3 ha, one is new. Primarily use Damy for the whites but the new ones are from Ardhu with a very tight grain.
A deep nose, almost heavy with fruit but with a nose-saving freshness above. There’s actually a little more padding here than the description suggests, but there’s a very fine width of fresh, salt-encrusted flavour. Really outstanding waves of finishing flavour – very wide too for a finish. Lovely, really, really, lovely….

Really a top address in 2014.

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