Tasted in Fleurie with Marie-Elodie Confuron, 27 May 2017.
Domaine Clos de Mez
At first acquaintance, Marie-Elodie Confuron seems an unlikely Fleurie vigneronne; she lives in Vosne-Romanée and teaches oenology in Beaune. But Marie-Elodie was born a Zighera, not a Confuron and hails from multiple generations of wine-making in Fleurie – a domaine that has successively been passed down the maternal line, and once extended to 80 hectares and needed 100 pickers. Now there remains about 15 hectares: 5.3 hectares are currently in production for Clos de Mez, 5 are in metayage and the last 5 are with the coop but Marie-Elodie does all the vineyard work in the coop parcels. She plans to (eventually) make domaine wine from 10 hectares.
It was a special tasting of old wines – a Morgon 1911 no-less – that convinced Marie-Elodie to do something with her inheritance. That started in 2006, so despite the long family history, the current domaine is about 10 years old. The soil is worked and all the neighbours are now in bio so this was helpful in seeking certification. “My wine is different from that of my neighbours, that’s because I decided to look back to how wines were made at that time of that 1911 from Morgon; no yeasts, no temperature control, no insulation, probably longer fermentation and of-course with all the stems. I make a big selection at the vines, collecting the grapes in 400 kg bins. I do have a small, cool maceration, starting at about 7 degrees, but then it depends on the grapes – it can be 4 days, it can be more than a week before the fermentation starts. Only when there’s a little alcohol do we start to do a little pigeage. Overall the fermentation and maceration can be 2-3, weeks. I take about 70% of the juice from the tanks and press the rest. About 40% goes into old barrels – in the old days they used a lot of barrels but larger barrels – not foudres – in the old days barrels were bought more than bottles. I prefer concrete for both temperature control and cleaning.”
After the malos, the barrels and tanks are blended and left for 1 year in tank. Then the wine rests for another year in bottle before selling – so when I visited, the 2015s were still in tank. For a number of years, a part was sold in bulk, bottling the other part – then Marie-Elodie decided to make 2 cuvées from here Fleurie – an entry wine ‘that people might better understand’ and the Fleurie ‘Dot’.
There is no active marketing here, whilst wines are sold from the domaine, Marie-Elodie is rarely on-hand for this. About 70% of production is exported. Not so much is sold to either the US or the UK “as they expect Beaujolais to be fruit, fruit, and I these are simply not wines for rapid drinking.” Plenty is sold, however, in Canada, China, Belgium and Australia. Though there won’t be much to sell in 2016 – they were hailed practically 100% – there are only 2 barrels for 2016…
The Morgon plot is actually only about 200 metres away. These are 80 year-old vines (vs about 50 for the Fleurie) so a good year is 25-35 hl/ha. The Fleurie ‘Dot’ is so named because it was a dowry gift for her grandmother’s wedding. It’s near Grille-Midi in the south of Fleurie – a 2 ha plot. “For Fleurie, people want fruit, and that’s frustrating because that’s not really what this terroir is about. So for that reason there are two different wines, the fruity wine with much less aging and all semi-carbonic – Mademoiselle M is the fruity wine.”
Since the 2008 vintage, Marie-Elodie uses DIAM5 here with a little more oxygen transport ‘as gamay has a tendency towards reduction. Also 14 seems a more reductive vintage than others.‘
Marie-Elodie is a thoughtful and committed winemaker. Her wines really showcase what she’s trying to look for – which is definitely not the bubble-gum end of the Beaujolais style spectrum. Wine for aging, for food and for your carafe – despite that, they are never harsh…
2006 Fleurie La Dot
Already a delicious, sweet sous-bois aroma. Complex, nicely fresh, plenty of energy – an aged yet sprightly profile. A finishing intensity that’s quite a mineral and long, almost a hint of volatility – but a super wine to think about. A high-toned and direct nose with a really growing fine fruit – but you have to wait for it… Finishing with a good salinity – it needs a carafe as it gets better and better….
2012 Fleurie La Dot
’12 often difficult and meagre.’
A depth of aroma, a top-note of faint pyrazine and sweet whole-cluster – slowly becoming more and more floral. Hmm, wide, very supple, a hint of, just a lick of, tannin. Nice energy saline complexity – really nice minerality as a base. Faintly spicy and long – a wine for the table (again) but really long, long…
2012 Morgon Château Gaillard
This is the name of the lieu-dit
Really a much larger fruit/flower perfume here. Direct, narrower a fine line and great energy here – growing intensity, still a lick of tannin, very little texture for comfort today, but delicious despite being very young…
2013 Fleurie La Dot
A much deeper nose with a hint of reduction – a very faintly spiced dark fruit. A mouthful of tannin here – but finely grained. This is really a baby, with fresh acidity but not that would impart pain. Lots of potential.
2013 Morgon Château Gaillard
The fruit is very like that of the 2012, almost an extra peach note in the mix. More mouth-filling, more volume than the 12, a good young tannin and a sucrosity to the acid-led mid-palate flavour… Long after a little peak of finishing flavour…
2014 Morgon Château Gaillard
(The 2014 Fleurie too reduced to show)
A much more open and easy nose, less direct focus. But attractive. Young, direct, some power and there’s plenty of tannin but it’s a pliable, supple tannin. A finish that really opens out with a bitter chocolate finish. Super!
2015 Mademoiselle M
Deeper colour. Deep and concentrated fruit with a faint spice. Big in the mouth, delicious, spicy fruited, tenacious finishing flavour. This will be a lot of fun – whilst waiting for the others to mature. A bright burst of finishing flavour too with a saline edge!