Tasted in Fixin with Bénigne Joliet, 04 August 2020.
Although I have visited to taste a couple of times during the ‘open days’ (weekends) in Fixin, it had been a long time since I made a specific appointment to taste – I decided it was about time.
In the intervening years, Bénigne has worked his way through both vineyard consultants such as Philippe Charlopin and ‘co-commercialisers‘ such as Joseph Drouhin and more enduringly Albert Bichot. In that time, Bénigne is unwavering in his assertion that his Clos de la Perrière has something extra when compared to the rest of Fixin – “For me, the clos is like Grands-Echézeaux – a little spiced, peppered from a cool and mineral terroir” – as ever, in sales-mode. As you will see, his approach to elevage and eventual bottling remains outside the norm.
Bénigne on 2020:
As of today, I’m looking towards the 5th September, maybe 7th to start the harvest – we’re currently about mid-maturity here. Normally I make some leaf-thinning, but it’s been a dry year so I’ve no worry about rot but given the heat of the last vintages I’ve decided to keep the leaves so that the grapes are more protected from the sun. yes, there was the hail-storm in Nuits but not even a drop of rain came to here. The soil is a little dry now, you can see some yellow leaves here and there, but it’s been a relatively easy year in the vines, we had plenty of rain early but when we needed to work in the vines, the access was fine.
Bénigne on his recent vintages:
“For me, 2019 is a great vintage – there’s freshness but mass too – we press properly here. We had less quantity than in 2018 as we had a strong challenge from oïdium this vintage – in this respect, it was a battle. By comparison, 2018 is marked more by the heat, the power of the vintage – the challenge was keeping the freshness – only the finishing of the fermentations needed some patience. Both were easy vintages for working in the vines – the white of 2019 and the red of 2018 will be bottled only in November 2020.”
Whilst oaky, I very much like the white wine from this address – particularly-so for Fixin which is often a ‘too savoury’ style of wine for me. The red remains an enigma to me – so many fascinating points of reference and great length – I’m not really a fan of the style of oak used here though – and it’s relatively persistent as you may see from my notes. I don’t see the link with Grands-Echézeaux – unfortunately 🙂
2019 Fixin 1er Clos de la Perrière Blanc
This will be bottled in November
Hmm, that’s a nicely pure and attractive fruit aroma – a proper invitation, faintly cushioned with a modest oak. Round – open, plenty of energy, plenty of oak for sure – but there is a lovely drive and finishing energy. Long. For keeping for the oak to fade but the shape and energy is lovely here.
2018 Fixin 1er Clos de la Perrière Blanc
A narrower, more mineral nose, less direct oak on show here. This is mouth-filling and indeed has a very good freshness – the balance is lovely here. A wide and intensely finishing, part saline, a wave of flavour – that’s a big and impressive finish with a similar oak style to the 2019. Excellent, and still for the patient.
2019 Fixin 1er Clos de la Perrière Rouge
Malo not long finished so not on full form.
Plenty of colour despite the whole clusters – the wine made with wc since 2009. Wide, fine, with a shimmer of oak in the aroma. Not fully ‘together’ at this stage but there’s fine energy here and good acidity. The oak, slightly reductive, is quite prominent in the middle and finishing flavours, but this is hauntingly long – a wine to be very patient with, but the shape, structure, balance are excellent.
2018 Fixin 1er Clos de la Perrière Rouge
This will be bottled in November.
Very fine focus of pretty dark fruits on this nose. Some drag to the texture from the tannin but practically no grain from that tannin. The same finishing oak signature – like the whites – long slightly reductive in a firework style but generally a fine purity here.
2017 Fixin 1er Clos de la Perrière Rouge
Bottled. “One of my favourite vintages, but not an easy vintage and had to work to preserve the fruit because it brought a ‘grand emotion.’ Very little working of the fermentations, not too much maceration, little pigeage or remontage.”
Still a fine depth of colour. The aromas a little fuller and rounder but inviting too. A velvet wine – nicely mouth-filling – the oak finish remains present but already on a significantly lower order – now we are starting to see the wine – though to be sure in a more forward and easier drinking vintage too.
2016 Fixin 1er Clos de la Perrière Rouge
Like in 2017, they lost plenty to frost – a little more in this vintage – “About 30% so down under 30 hl/ha, my target is always 35-37 like a grand cru. A hot vintage in the middle but clearly a vintage of temperature extremes.”
Here’s a nicely silky nose – very attractively pure and dark fruit – yes! The tannin is more evident, plenty of intensity and lovely acidity. Really a growing intensity in the second half of this wine, here the oak/firework remains your partner but the finish is so long – I’d still give this 5 years or-so.
2008 Fixin 1er Clos de la Perrière Rouge
Here no whole clusters, a vintage of extremes – 15 October harvest, 3 years of elevage, ‘A wine that was hard to extract. Triage was practically 25%’
Less weight but lacking no purity – this is a lovely aromatic invitation and the first wine that’s practically a little floral. Fresh, with some volume, micro tannins, still some creamy oak flavour, unfortunately. Yet the whole is delicious and complex with a fine texture. I’d very happily drink this wine – excellent!