Tasted in La Chapelle-Vaupelteigne with Jean-Claude Bessin, 29 April, 2014.
11 rue des Cours
89800 LA CHAPELLE-VAUPELTEIGNE
Tel. +33 (0)3 86 42 46 77+33 (0)3 86 42 46 77
Starting out with a Chablis Premier Fourchaume in 1880, this winery has been family-run for five generations in La Chapelle-Vaupelteigne. Jean-Claude Bessin has, with his wife, run the 12.3 hectare estate since 1991 – 1992 was the first year where they bottled. The family had also worked for a Countess in the Château de Maligny, and it was from her that the domaine’s vines in Fourchaume originate. Most of the parcels surround the village where they are based.
Jean-Claude notes that the current size of the domaine is optimal for the personnel that they have – if he chose to grow the domaine then he’d need to employ people, so hasn’t done so.
In the vines Jean-Claude follows what he describes as lutte integrée principles and is a part of a group called Ecophyto which is inspired by the work of some Swiss vignerons. It’s the 4th year that JC has been working like this, aiming to reduce the number of treatments. “I think a lot about Biodynamics” says Jean-Claude, “But not Bio!” We work for yields of 40-60hl/ha – significantly below the legal limit – though recently have ended up with much less. “45 hl/ha is fine in a good vintage, but often you need less. My target is for purity, linearilty and length with minerality to capture the terroirs.”
The majority of this domaine’s wines are exported from France – “it’s actually easier than taking you bottles to Paris and trying to sell them” says Jean-Claude with a smile.
Space is at a premium in the domaine’s cuverie – it’s built into the hillside, so there’s no room to expand. The domaines wines are vinified in stainless-steel and enamel tanks, and are vinified by parcel; “I need to vinify by parcel so that I can follow the progression of my work in the vines.” In 2000 there was the first use of barrels for elevage and in 2001 was the first use of barrels to do fermentations. Since 2008, all of the domaine’s wines see 18 months of elevage – though Jean-Claude notes that there’s a limit to the number of barrels he can used due to the size of his cuverie. Basically he says that nothing is fixed; some ferment in barrel, elevage in stainless-steel – others the reverse. “We decide when we see the grapes.”
2012 Chablis Vieilles-Vignes
This wine has been in bottle for 1 month – the vines average 50 years old. The last 6 months of the elevage were in stainless-steel.
Aromatic depth that has an undercurrent of ripe fruit. Silky, with rippling muscle and a slowly growing, eventually super concentration. The acidity seems modest but the finish – far from!
The neighbouring parcel to the domaine’s Fôrets.
Clear, with an intense core of fresh fruit on the nose. Really energetic, slowly settling down on the palate – but still intense. Brilliant mid-palate flavour intensity. Very lovely wine.
Vines located in the heart of Fourchaume. Here in 2012, due to low yields, there was no separate bottling of the cuvée ‘Piece aux Comte’ – a name which reflects on the previous owners of the plot.
The nose starts freshly, slowly mellowing in the glass. Round and beautifully mouth-watering – not just sweetly but with an extra dimension of solid material too. Again, real density of material in the finish. Simply super, again.
A dense yet fresh nose that has a little fresh, ripe pear. Lovely, lovely mouth-watering flavour – indeed waves of flavour. This is simply gorgeous. Maybe there is acidity, maybe there is minerality – but clearly there is a whole, round, beautiful wine.
2012 Chablis Valmur
The nose is modest yet very wide; fresh and delicate too. There’s only a faint extra ‘gras’ over the 1er Crus but there is a certain extra, frank, directness of the concentration. The flavour really grows in the mid-palate. The length seems more discrete, though without actual loss of length. Super wine.