Tasted in Beaune with Mark O’Connell and Pierre Meurgey, 28 March 2017.
Domaine Clos de la Chapelle
3 rue de Grenier à Sel
Tel: +1 816 223 0257
Mark on 2016:
“I don’t even know where to begin. 27 April – my frosted birthday! I wasn’t here and my feedback was ‘All that I tell you is that we are affected and some places could be very bad – we will know in a few days.’ Initially we heard about 30-70% losses depending on the appellation. I went into the vineyards expecting devastation, but it turned out that the rain we had just a few weeks before harvest, combined with the fact all our appellations are mid-slope, seems to have protected them more than some – in the end we made more wine in 2016 than 2015! Actually without the frost, it would have been an enormous vintage – perhaps like 1999. En Carelles lost 50% – probably helped by rows running north-south. Those with east-west lost at least 80%. Our whites wee harder hit – we have less than 50% – but I’m very excited by the 2016s, they will certainly challenge the 15s but are still in malos so we wait and see.”
Mark on 2015:
*In 2015 the crop was small due to the inconsistent flowering – the result of three hails and the damaged baguettes. The season was perfect but our plant material wasn’t ready. For me the wines were about getting the extraction right – the juice to fruit ratio was really low – lots of colour, anthocyanins and concentration. We had an extremely small amount of malic acid in this vintage, practically nil, yet it didn’t seem to shorten the malo, maybe it was just less vigorous.”
This one of the rare domaines that I’ve given up trying to taste the new vintage in my normal November window – their elevage typically sees the wines still full of gas and impossible to write a coherent, worthwhile note – but they show brilliantly in the Spring.
The oak treatment is the same across all appellations – ‘to really see the terroir differences’ – 30-33% new oak depending more on cuvée size than appellation so sometimes it’s a little more.
Two years in a row – a simply fabulous range of wines – it’s just a shame that the volumes of each wine are so low!
2015 Beaune 1er Les Teurons
0.25 ha with just 2 barrels from potentially 4 so no new oak.
Good depth and a pretty and fresh top-line of aroma, with floral accents. Bright, lovely structure and freshness balance. Hmm there is a little structure in the finish too but balanced with a lovely floral aspect. Long and interesting. Very, very tasty wine.
After owning this for 4 years, this is the first vintage there is actually some wine – three lots of hail! Even in 2015 it was really only 50% of a normal yield.
A deeper nose, vibrant and attractive – dark-red fruited. Direct, freshness that you wouldn’t expect in 2015 – good complexity, a little tannin. Hmm. This is simply a very delicious wine. Bravo! A lovely finish still with a little structure to dry the tongue. The last notes from the glass are delicious too.
Just below the chapel, same height and exposure as Champans. 0.35 ha planted about 1960. Some brown clay, lots of small rocks on reasonably deep soil.
Almost a silky width of aroma. Fine, direct, elegant, slowly accenting with floral fruit. Super mid-palate intensity then a long diminuendo. A little less overt structure than the Champs Piments, but equally delicious!
2015 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 contiguous 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. Here the vines run east-west.’
Much more depth of aroma, aided by a very light reduction. The reduction is visible in the mouth too – but this flows beautifully over the palate with a little more depth and fineness of structure. The finish is the most beautiful yet – really with a floral accent and delicious. I would carafe this for now to help shift the reduction, but the finish is fabulous!
These first 4 wines were bottled in November, the last wines were done about 1 month ago.
2015 Volnay 1er Taillepieds
Much, much lighter soil. Much stonier too. ’Totally different – 50m higher in elevation with multiple types of limestone. 0.47 ha. We already had declining yields in this vineyard, ignoring the hail, so at the end of 15 I decided to replant 2 sections. I’m working with Jean-Pierre de Smet formally from l’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.’ It’s a bottom to top parcel. This wine 50% whole cluster.
A little deeper colour. A really silky width of elegant aroma. This is fresh but then moves into a deeper weight of fruit flavour – layered – more considered and contemplative. This has a weight of finishing flavour. Long and again contemplative. The nose becoming ever more open and striking!
On the border of Volnay and Pommard with old vines, and some repicage, but still can make over 30 hl/ha. Planted in 1930, bottled November!
Ooh – now that’s a delicious nose – striking, floral fruit combination – just beautiful. Super volume in the mouth, round, melting flavour. Fresh and lip-smacking in the finish. Love the texture, love the wine – bravo!
2015 Pommard 1er Grand Epenots
Bottled last month and vinified with 50% whole clusters.
More freshness plus a depth of dark fruit. Volume in the mouth and with a nice intensity too. A fine line of flavour. Slowly mouth-watering…
‘The vineyards in Corton never had hail, no disease pressure and perfect flowering, but we still lost 30% due to the heat that caused a very low juice to fruit ratio. A wine that finished fermentation in barrel.
Ooh – deep and welcoming, beautifully pure fruit nose – fabulous! Hmm – what wine! Density but nothing hard – brilliant depth. Contemplative but alive and fresh. Just a great grand cru. A little more impression of pressed material in the finish.
Like the last, 50% whole clusters, bottled in March, 50% new oak as only 2 barrels.
Really a fine depth, less silky focus than the last but with more width and an accent of spice. A large-scaled wine, with more overt complexity, really so in the mid-palate, ooh that finish is good and really super long – brilliant again but very different – I’d take the nose and first impressions of the last and the mid-palate and finish of this!
And les Blancs…
“It’s harder to use DIAM when you’re building your name! The vintage tastes surprisingly fresh, certainly versus the analytical numbers. Plenty of fresh spice – ginger, white pepper.”
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 – “This wine is so popular that we’ve bought the neighbouring 0.2 ha and will replant with chardonnay. People go crazy over it at €20 a bottle!”
Hmm – this has a fine freshness. Bright and beautiful depth – really this is super attractive. Plenty of volume, mouth-watering citrus, long, long, some suggestion of oak in the mid-palate but then it’s gone. Just a beautiful and delicious wine!
2015 Pernand-Vergelesses 1er Sous Fretille
A tiny plot of just 3 ouvrees – 0.12 ha
A vibrant nose, slowly adding a little depth. Here is also a nice vibrancy of flavour – a mineral side too – if anything this starts rather modest but widens and widens in the mouth – getting ever-more interesting. It improves from nice to excellent in the mouth!
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. Debourbage overnight with an early morning racking into barrel with plenty of lees. Once per month batonnage after malo, until about 2 months before bottling. 13.5 natural.
Oh yes! Vibrant, a mineral nose with some citrus accents. Hmm – vibrant in the mouth too, wide, fresh – really mouth-watering in the finish, very like a red wine here. It’s narrow in the middle, this mineral aspect will need some time to open out and deliver its true level of complexity but it’s still a really great glass today!