Tasted in Chassagne with Armand Heitz, 21 July 2015.
24 Rue Charles Paquelin
Tel: +33 3 80 21 33 19
Today’s new face in Chassagne is Domaine Heitz-Lochardet, their home is an old but impressive house and buildings close to the wine-shop in Chassagne-Montrachet – the Cave de Chassagne.
Today’s domaine results from seeds planted in 1857 by the Nie-Vantey family, who were significant owners in both the Côte de Beaune and Nuits. The phylloxera crisis was the trigger for the sale of many of their vineyards, though a kernel of vines in Côte de Beaune were retained by Georges Lochardet. The grand-daughter of Georges, Brigitte Lochardet, married Swiss national, Christian Heitz and the 5 hectares of vines from her grandfather became Domaine Heitz-Lochardet.
There was a domaine, but no customers, so the vines were rented by three producers: Ballot-Millot, Bachelet-Ramonet and Joseph Drouhin. These domaines did the vineyard work and bought the grapes – much was farmed organically during these times – almost 25 years. Brigitte and Christian’s son, Armand Heitz, is the next generation, and he completed his oenology studies in 2011. Of-course it wasn’t just a case of finishing wine school, he also had to wait for the various contracts to run their course before he could recover the vines and begin making wine himself. As vineyards reverted back to him, he immediately began converting them to biodynamic management – though he’s not looking for certification – ”Well, there’s going to be no intervention, but I still prefer to take my time – I’m not doing it for show or promotion.”
Armand’s first vintage was 2013, working with consulting oenologist Ludovic Pierrot, ex of Domaine Leflaive. In 2013 there were five cuvées, whilst eight were produced in 2014 – two more will be bottled from 2015.
I noted that the coat of arms on the domaine’s labels looks very much like an homage of the label of Comte Liger-Belair, but the emblem is actually from a side of the Heitz family that originate in the Swiss Grisons – or more commonly, Graubünden.
Armand plans that no more than 25% of production will reach any market. Currently the UK and US are the strongest sales markets, though he notes that the ‘classic Asian’ destinations are growing quickly.
We tasted mainly samples of 2014s plus a couple of 2013s. There was still some gas in the samples; Armand is planning to bottle with about 900 ppm CO2, expecting roughly 600ppm in the wines after 6 months. The wines here have much potential and, given the domaine’s super collection of appellations, I see this as an address to keep an eye on…
” The 2014s were hardly touched by hail, the grapes homogenous and good in good shape for the harvest. We will bottle just before the (2015) harvest, hopefully at the end of August. I prefer to have a little shorter elevage; 9 months in barrel followed by a couple in tank work well for me.”
Armand uses about 20-25% new oak and the wines show very little colour.
2014 Bourgogne Chardonnay
Next to the villages appellation Meursault vines.
A fresh, almost (auto-suggestion?) Meursault aromatic. Here is good attack, and growing flavour intensity. Fine length too!
2014 Meursault les Gruaches
This is a small enclave in the 1er crus and the first vintage for this wine. ‘I think it merits having the name of the lieu-dit on the label’ says Armand.
More concentration of aroma. Again a lovely brisk entry with growing intensity of flavour. There’s a hint of gas, but lots of enjoyment here. More weight of material in the finish,and a mouth-watering and long finish too – tons of potential here.
2014 Chassagne 1er Maltroye
From the centre of Chassagne, just behind the domaine house.
Something of a classic, forward, Chassagne herb on the nose, below is a sweeter core that’s straining to burst forward. Big in the mouth with lots of energy and intensity – lovely mouth-filling shape – robust, classic, very tasty Chassagne.
2014 Meursault 1er Perrières
Here is a little more floral aspect to the nose. Lovely energy – this wine rolls around the tongue enlivening the palate. Fine acidity here and an insinuating flavour too. Yum! Excellent length…
2014 Chevalier Montrachet
Middle elevation in these vines which neighbor those of Vincent Dancer, plus there’s a little on the first tier of vines near Lafon’s Montrachet, but as there are only 2 barrels worth (in a normal year) then there is no separate elevage.
Just a suggestion of fume on the nose. Ouf! – Here is really a wonderful mineral wine that flows beautifully over the tongue. Super intensity with the flavour of fresh grapefruit with an almost salted dimension. The flavour panorama then narrows into a long, direct, if discreet, finish – just super!! Nose slowly opening up with a fresher aspect; the fumé is gone and a little flower blossom is now approaching…
2013 Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Maltroye
A ripe core of aroma with a fresher sheen around it. Big, mouth-filling texture, but with lots of energy – this is a lithe rather than a fat wine – there’s actually really good energy and quite some matching complexity too. Good intense and mouth-watering finish. Very covetable wine!
2014 Pommard 1er Clos des Poutures Monopole
From vines opposite (behind) Auprès du Clocher – it was hailed but they still managed to bring in 28 hl/ha.
A whole-cluster aroma here (yes it is) and a little grapey pyrazine I think, but a wide and interesting aromatic vista. Round in the mouth, but without fat. Like some of the whites here it plays across your palate in lithe but intense fashion. The tannin is modest. A fine line of flavour augmented by the stems.
2014 Pommard 1er Les Rugiens
All from Rugiens-Haut. “It depends on the vigneron, but it was difficult this year for the vines that were hailed hard – there won’t be big yields in 2015.
Deep – the aromas are certainly a little more profound, also with plenty of whole cluster aromatic and a faint pyrazine note. Bigger in the mouth, a little more weight to the flavour too. More padded intensity. A faint dryness to the tannin, but not with a particular grain. A long, herby and intense finish. Great potential…
2013 Pommard 1er Clos des Poutures Monopole
Modest colour and a bit of reduction to start, slowly opening and becoming ever more engaging and complex. A little gas, direct, narrow, intense with a forward acidity that softens in the mid-palate and really a very good width of flavour in that mid-palate. Armand says he prefers to decant this – I would too! Very good.