Profile: Albert Grivault – Clos des Perrières 2017-1928

Update 12.12.2019(7.7.2019)billn

Tasted, appreciatively, with Michel Bardet, his 3 daughters and one son, plus many other family members and clients, in Beaune, 20 May 2019.

Domaine Albert Grivault
7 Place du Murger
21190 Meursault
Tel. +33 3 80 21 23 12

Following the death of his father and aged just nineteen, Albert Grivault set out on an adventure with drink – or more properly, producing and selling drink. He began a distillery in Beziers and was so successful that he could very soon buy vines – and not just any vines. Just as Burgundy was approaching the turmoil of phylloxera, and still aged just twenty-three, Albert was able to pay a small fortune for the Meursault domaine of the late Marquess de la Roche who died with no heirs in 1879.

Albert Grivault was the grandfather of Michel and Marguerite Bardet who, together, ran the domaine until Marghuerite’s death, but Michel, born in 1938, is ever-present. Michel’s ‘metier’ was thirty years as an electronics engineer as these family vines had been rented out, but he has also vinified the produce of the domaine since 1974, finally creating a company with his sisters in 1980 to rent the vines from his mother.

The domaine of today extends to six hectares but it was once larger – totalling 15 hectares – Meursault-Charmes vines were donated by Albert Grivault to the Hospices de Beaune in 1904 – the Cuvée Albert Grivault is still auctioned each year – and a one-hectare block of Clos de Vougeot was sold by his widow in 1931. This was a time of financial upheaval, the domaine’s vigneron was ready to retire and the vines needed replacing – Château de la Tour was the buyer – but a gate dedicated to the ‘Veuve Albert Grivault’ remains to this day.

Much of the domaine was rented to metayeurs following the death of Albert, but there were two daughters – Michel and Marguerite Bardet’s mother was the youngest. The older daughter had no children so the vines reverted to the Bardet’s mother – through marriage, this is where the family name changed to Bardet. It is their cousins – the Bardets and Mommessins – who, until recently, owned the Clos de Tart in Morey St.Denis, before its sale to France’s richest man – François Pinault in 2017.

Michel Bardet ‘is limited’ to the vinification and elevage of his wines because each parcel of vines is ‘en tâche’ – rented to vineyard workers – so only eighty percent is bottled by the domaine; effectively a maximum of forty thousand bottles each year from the domaine’s six hectares. There are five hectares of vines producing white wine, and almost one hectare of ‘blanc’ but in this case the ‘Clos Blanc’ 1er cru of Pommard which of-course is red wine.

Hidden from the street, behind the domaine is a wonderful ‘clos’ – the Clos du Murger – of about 1.65 hectares Villages Meursault and 0.85 Bourgogne Blanc. The Bourgogne is made from young vines (planted 2000-2002) but has the same soil as the Meursault. All the domaine’s Village Meursault comes from this single ‘garden’ plot.

Meursault Clos des Perrières

From the domaine’s ‘garden’, in the distance, can be seen the (almost) one hectare Clos des Perrieres and one and a half hectares of Les Perrières – Domaine Albert Grivault are the largest owner of the iconic Meursault 1er cru ‘Perrières’. The totality of the surface of Perrères is 13.21 hectares, of which 0.95 is Clos des Perrières itself – (almost) completely enclosed by a fine stone wall and personalised gate. There is a wide opening on the southern end of the wall next to the road that separates the Clos from Meursault-Charmes, (which sits below the clos) allowing for tractor access, as the gateway is both too narrow and has a step into the vineyard.

For the wine’s elevage the domaine’s two Perrières see about twenty percent new oak, used barrels suffice for the other wines. Michel prefers not to make too much batonnage, and typically bottles in August, just before the next vintage – for the Pommard everything is destemmed and eighteen months of elevage is not uncommon.

Our tasting celebrated the 140 years anniversary of the purchase of the vines. We were also joined by Lalou Bize-Leroy, a loyal customer of the Bardets for over 50 years, buying in bottle for the Maison Leroy business, but reckorking to seals with her own brand.

The wines…

All of these bottles were opened at 08h30, and were tasted by us between 10h30 and 12h30…

Privilege is too small a word, it’s not a sufficiently encompassing word to describe the experience of tasting all of these wines together. The citrus, fumé, minerality is clear in the young and middle-age wines – the older wines perhaps speaking more about age and cepage than place – but when you have that combination of age, cepage and place – what a privilege!

2017 Clos des Perrières
Tasted at lunch, rather than with the wines that follow.
Pale colour. Bright, fresh, perhaps too early in the life of this for precision. Plenty of energy and freshness – complex, in fact with lovely energy. Some oak flavour followed by the characteristic mineral finish – yes! Modest to start, today, but wine with a great finish.

2016 Clos
30 year-old vines this year.
Young colour. The first nose is a little powdery, swirling brings both clarity and intensity – a citrus skin aroma. Supple, layered, beautiful balance – long, modestly oaked – delicious if slightly contemplative wine. Very fine fading citrus – again with a little zest and cream.

2015 Clos
29 year-old vines this year.
A nice width of aroma here – a little less deep but feel this width – concentrated ripe citrus, but all that said, on a modest level. Ooh, that’s more vibrant – super energy, the minerality more overt, more saline. Ooh, that’s a beautiful wine – fading with less intensity than the 2016 but no less length. Bravo!

2013 Clos
27 year-old vines this year.
Here is a nicely vibrant nose – more golden fruit, a little less discretion vs the 2015. Hmm, so mouth-watering – really juicy – bubbling with complexity – less concentrated than either of the 2016 or 2015 but beautiful wine – a suggestion of reduction to the finishing flavours, also more mineral, quite agrume in the finish. Ooh, that’s delicious! With time in the glass a little touch of barrel cream starts to grow. This is my new favourite! Bravo!

2008 Clos
22 year-old vines at this time, served from magnum
Starting to take on a deeper lemon yellow, almost growing with a faint fumé. Hmm, a deeper nose to match the colour too – a little firework vibration – but on a very low level – again with beautiful, dried ripe citrus notes. Sweeping, wide, layered – there is concentration here – a little more of the reduction showing in the middle and into the finish. Once more, beautifully mineral finishing. Harmonious, beautiful wine!

2006 Clos
A little lighter colour than the 2008.
Hmm – the first that’s more floral – there is still some citrus, but below, perhaps with marzipan but very attractive (and I don’t like marzipan!) Some flavour development here – that’s certainly the first – more of a baked fruit impression – the vintage – really mineral and very, very long – here is the climat to go with the vintage.

2003 Clos
17 year-old vines at this time – tasted from magnum. Harvested 26 August and fermented ‘without a hitch.’ The wines aged quite fast in barrel and two of the barrels started to oxidise – in the end 9 months in barrel, normally it’s 11 months.
Again, a very good, modest depth of colour. There’s a weight to this aroma – a freshness of ripe citrus too – not really aged and I would never guess 2003 from the nose. Big in the mouth, fresh, good vibrancy to the flavour – here in the middle the citrus is baked in style – a little fumé too – growing minerality. A super finishing minerality – like all – but here with a touch of floral. Super length, outstanding 2003, really…

2001 Clos
15 year-old vines at this stage. Harvested 21 September
The first wine with an overt, darker colour. Here is some oxidation – a tired wine – saline but not much more positive. Nice drive in the mouth – energy and complexity, lots of complexity, minerality and length – there’s another bottle – certainly lighter in colour. The nose hasn’t overt oxidation but has some of the normal aging characteristics of chardonnay. The same fresh, energetic stance as the first but without the oxidation in the middle – this is super – but clearly the most variable vintage we have tasted so far…

1996 Clos
Here the vines had 10 years of age. 24 September harvest.
Deeper colour but doesn’t look oxidised. Ooh, that’s nice – wide, a little freshness and a lot of crème brulee. Ooh (again!) vibrant, dynamic wine, so mouth-watering, melting with juicy flavour over the palate, mineral, driving, gorgeous, modest intensity but with the impression of staining the palate. This evolves very quickly in the glass, but a great 1996 is something to be savoured – and here is one – bravo!

1992 Clos
Only 6 year-old vines at this harvest on 01 October.
Hmm – younger colour than the ’96 – not by much, but. Confit citrus fruits – crystallised – faint notes of mature chardonnay but very faint, with more florals added with time. A beautiful wine – supple, concentrated, confit fruit again, a little less perfect texture – more structural. Gorgeously spiced and mineral finish – only the finish resembles the other wines – it’s a different style, but it’s still a great wine!

1986 Clos
42 year-old vines at this harvest. 86 and 89 were the replantations.
Starting to have a more mature colour – but darker yellow – no browning. Not a massive nose, but one of fine, granular almost reductive complexity – a white pepper equivalent to Vosne spice. More drive and energy, more beautiful texture. Fabulous mineral, slightly fumé and more complex. This is my favourite so far!

1985 Clos
41 year-old vines at the harvest.
Like the 1986 a deeper but fine colour. A nose that also starts like the ’86 – just with a little less power – some lanolin and white chocolate – now we are starting to get some maturity, eventually a little fumé too. Wow – lots of mouth-filling volume – great texture, a touch of finishing tannin but less than the 86. Fresh, growing mineral. Another beautiful wine.

(A nightmare, my belly is starting to rumble as my neighbour Frédéric Drouhin chooses his hypothetical menu with each different glass.)

1979 Clos
Here the vines had 35 years of age at harvest.
A little darker colour here – but golden, still. Smoky aromas to start, slowly fading to deliver some wet wool – lanolin and eventually even flowers. Drive, energy, mineral and acidity freshness – just enough sucrosity and a depth of direct flavour to make a fine foil to the acidity – a suggestion of some peripheral more oxidative notes but this is gorgeous stuff – florals infusing the mineral in the finish – and incredibly long – one of the best finishes for me.

1959 Clos
15 year-old vines at this harvest. Considered a good vintage.
Now we have the colour of Sauternes. Deep, earthy, complex – a little too cold – spicy citrus, just an open-ended complexity – wow! Good acidity, lots of concentration, far from a smooth texture – a complicated wine – suggestions of whisky, of dried fruits – I’m really not in Burgundy here. But heaven is close! The longer in the glass, the less interesting the nose for me but really a vendange tardive or Tokay style to this amazing wine.

1937 Clos
A very similar colour to the 1959. A real older chardonnay nose with just a touch of oxidation – but I’m ready – and it’s becoming more airy and attractive all the time! Ooh – silky – wide, now a more overt chardonnay style – beautiful depth of cooking orange fruit. Simply brilliantly wide, white mushroom – greatness – I’m a privileged boy today…

1928 Clos
41 year-old vines at this harvest.
If anything, lighter colour than the previous two wines. A tighter nose, less oxidation, nutty, woolly, becoming floral and spiced below. Wide, delicious, mushrooms, freshness – complex – all on a very subtle level – I’d like to drink this without being surrounded by other tasters, but vibrant, mineral, delicious finishing. Great wine and soooo long. We were lucky, some of the other bottles had problems.

Agree? Disagree? Anything you'd like to add?

There is one response to “Profile: Albert Grivault – Clos des Perrières 2017-1928”

  1. Marko de Morey9th July 2019 at 4:13 pmPermalinkReply

    You may recall Mr N you have, on another occasion (ok, no privilege on that occasion 😉 ) also tasted what at the time was a lovely 2002 Clos. Great notes though, I don’t recall being aware, unless I’ve forgotten, of the replantings & current vines age. You lucky chap though, would have loved to be there. Envy…………

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