Clos de la Chapelle – 2017

Update 20.6.2019(3.5.2019)billn

Tasted in Beaune with Pierre Meurgey and Mark O’Connell, 21 March 2019.

Domaine Clos de la Chapelle
Au Château – 14 Grande rue
21200 Bligny-lès-Beaune
Tel: +1 816 223 0257

Mark on 2018:
It goes without say, a warm year, however, it wasn’t too hot – only one wine came in at 14° and it’s true that we didn’t have to chaptalise anything but the ripeness was not too much. There was very little malic acid which could have been problematic for using up the malolactic bacteria – but in reality the malos started so fast that it caught us by surprise – the malo in the Charlemagne even finished before the alcoholic fermentations. More cuvées were in the range of pH 3.6 than usual but they don’t need acid additions as they have fine balance – we did some acidification tests but the wines were not better – so we went ‘au-natural.’ The father of the Drouhins said don’t forget our 1959 Bonnes-Mares with pH 3.9 – it’s still delicious and alive. We like to do 50% whole-clusters apart from a couple that we destem, a bit less in 2018 but that’s because no more would fit in the tanks!

Mark on 2017:
The thing that I like to focus on was how short the flowering season was – in order to have good flowering you need no wind, no rain – that’s pretty unlikely if flowering lasts two weeks – but in 2017 flowering was done in less than one week. So our starting point was with a full crop and then we had no maladies! Overall 43 hl/ha for the reds and 45 hl/ha for the whites – big but not gargantuan. We did a green harvest in Champimonts – as it was trying to make up for no wine in 12, 13 or 14 – we had almost forgotten that we had the vines! The wines have turned so well though – we can confirm this, as we’ve been drinking them all week in Prowein! We picked 02-08 September – everything came together almost at the same time – 11.7 – 12.6°.

The wines…

These are serious wines with depth, concentration and structure – some are certainly grand vins. A domaine that would certainly be better known were it not for the fact that they had hardly any wine to sell between 2012 and 2016!

The the whites and the Teurons were bottled in November – the latter because its malo finished so early. All the rest were done at the end of January into February 2019.

2017 Beaune 1er Les Teurons
0.27 ha. This malo finished early – February – some others didn’t finish until August!
Good depth of colour. Hmm a lovely weight of fine dark fruit – a certain gloss to the fruit. Wide, mouth-filling, just a little textural oak that brings some bitter chocolate in the finish. Juicy and saline finishing – a really super and tasty finish. I’d wait 3 years just for the mid-palate to become more supple, but the start and finish are really super Beaune!

2017 Beaune 1er Champs Piments
0.63 ha
Ooh what a vibrant nose – fresh, floral – almost electric – yes! Wide again, a little more freshness to this wine. The structure is also wide and with a slight grain at the base, but ripe, concentrated and beautifully balanced. A super, excellent wine That finishes beautifully.

2017 Volnay 1er En Carelle
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. All destemmed as usual.
A textured width of aroma, more of perfumed in style, almost a suggestion of chocolate, less direct energy than the Champs Piments. Hmm – but in the mouth here is freshness, mobile flavour, a depth that accents but doesn’t overtly support the fruit. Wide, slightly dense but delicious flavour – this will open out and become more interesting and even more delicious – it’s already got a great starting point with very fine, fading, red fruit in the finish – excellent!

2017 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-1950s 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. Here the vines run east-west.’ Also destemmed, 2 from 8 barrels were new.
A little more airy, a suggestion of spice. Fuller, more mouth-filling, glossy, faintly framed by a very fine tannin – a layered depth of fruit – more open than the Carelle but similar style of fruit. A little more vibrance of flavour in middle to the finish. Holds well.

2017 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. First vintage for the newly planted vines will be in 2019 – the massale selection ‘ it will be fascinating to compare the two plots’ – the parcel is right in-between those of d’Angerville and de Montille.
A little more depth of colour. A width of very finely textured aroma. More freshness and more drive – a cooler fruit, still dark. A wine of fine mid-palate complexity – mobile, changing – oh-so young but no overt structure to deter the adventurous. Excellent again!

2017 Pommard 1er Chanlins Vieilles-Vignes
On the border of Volnay and Pommard. Old-vines, 0.25 ha from 1930 that delivered 45 hl/ha despite their age.
Ooh – that’s such a beautiful floral aroma with equally beautiful depth of fruit aroma. Mouth-filling freshness, clarity despite weight, and such a fine tannin in an almost perfect texture. This is great wine – so obvious. Bravo!
2017 Pommard 1er Grand Epenots
Lots of colour. A complex nose – fresh, spiced, floral, energetic – presumably aided by the stems. So sleek – sweeping lines of flavour, floral flavour, depth and energy. I’ve a slight preference for the Chanlins – but only a micro-preference! Bravo!

2017 Corton Bressandes
There’s no Rognets any more – part of the separation with Champy – but the domaine got a little more Beaune Reversées which has already been replanted to white – 0.18 ha worth. ‘Really, really happy with this wine – I think it’s a complete wine – it all comes together and you see exactly why this is a grand cru.’
Less colour – though still plenty. Almost a hint of mocha – it’s a deep, deep aroma – just so attractive. Mouth-filling but transparent, more velvet than silky, a modest but ripe grain of tannin. Weight without ever being heavy – Nureyev or Bussell – I don’t know – but I could follow it for some hours. Deliciously finishing. Excellent as a minimum!

And les Blancs…
No crushing for the whites and we hyper-oxidise, no sulfur for 48 hours

2017 Beaune 1er Reversées 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 – “People go crazy over it at €20 a bottle!”
A nice mix of weight and fresh transparency, subtly, attractively, reductive. Nice shape, mobile slightly oaky – but a dark, attractive (to me) oak i.e. not vanilla style. Very delicious wine.

2017 Pernand-Vergelesses 1er Sous Fretille
A tiny plot of just 3 ouvrees – 0.12 ha. ‘Our mini Corton-Charlemagne’ – it has the same elevation and you can see one from the other…
Ooh – a little extra drive to this nose – fresh but ripe lemon – not so deep yellow – a similar dark oak to last but less overt. A touch of gas, but with a depth of vibrant, super flavour – the oak of the last – it’s a question of style but I quite like this taste – though pure it isn’t. Bravo!
2017 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, we 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. This is always our last picked vineyard’ 6 barrels, 2 new.
An extra width of aroma – the oak hardly visible this time. Hmm, volume but such a transparency, a clarity, lithe and pure. Not a wine of impact or overt ripeness – but such a presence – a mix of fruit and minerals. A certain discretion that will possibly fade with air. Potentially a great Charlemagne! Bravo!

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