Tasted in St.Aubin with Pierre Fenals, the 29th October, 2014.
Maison en Belles Lies
38 Rue de Lavières
What a fun visit.
I’d guess that Pierre Fenals is older than I am, but has jumped into this particular 2.8 hectare ‘exploitation’ with the enthusiasm and ideals of a twenty year-old, he also buys the fruit from a further 4 hectares of vines where his team do the ‘labour.’ Created with a partner in 2009, for this exploitation Pierre cultivates vines biodynamically and tries to use a minimum of sulfur in the cuverie – mainly older barrels too. He’s a real character, and his wines have character too. Production is roughly equal quantities of red and white wine. In the same ‘aircraft-hanger’ are another set of wines – ‘made conventionally’ he says. ‘So kept separate.’
When I arrived at the last building at the top of the village in St.Aubin – a building that looks like an aircraft-hangar (très practique says Pierre) – they were repainting their old Vaslin presses – favourites of domaines like Coche-Dury – they have three of these, plus a vertical press for the reds. I even saw one guy polishing the side of a stainless-steel tank – it must have been a quiet day!
Pierre notes that for reds, he uses “‘Some’ whole clusters, no sulfur, no chaptalisation. The whites are cooled in stainless steel for 1-2 days before going into barrel – everything by gravity – again no sulfur.”
Pierre goes against the grain, saying that 13 is a more concentrated vintage than 12, but notes “I harvested later than in 12, so it’s better.” I find a lot of potential in these wines, but would prefer to see some bottled examples before extrapolating how the quite tasty barrel wines will eventually present themselves – mainly due to the low sulfur regime used.
2013 Monthelie Blanc
Round and riper aromatic. There’s also enough gas here to make the wine hard to judge – there’s brightness of fruit for sure, but the best part of the wine today is its fine, quite mineral and certainly tasty finish.
Four barrels of this wine, one new barrel, from Le Charlemagne – the vines ‘more than 80 years-old.’ The malos only finished in August here
A deep, riper pineapple aromatic. Lithe and intense with faint gas – this has penetrating, intense flavour. Great length. Particular in style, but another very tasty wine.
2013 Hautes Côtes de Beaune
Just bottled. Vines from St.Aubin area.
There’s pretty red fruit, but occasional flashes of even more beautiful red fruit. In the mouth it’s fresh and lithe with good energy and good depth too. A fine apéro wine but may become more obviously acidic with time.
To be bottled in November 2014. From old vines made with whole clusters.
Wide. round and sweet with whole cluster aromatic. Round, sweeter with a base of slightly grainy tannin – a good extra dimension of flavour in the mid-palate with fine finishing flavour too. Tasty wine!
To be bottled in March 2015. No new oak, made from a ‘fine massale selection’ of 0.26ha planted perpendicular to the slope.
There’s plenty of coconut on the nose (surprising as it’s a barrel from 2007!) some whole cluster too. The palate is lithe but today dominated by its tannins. Fine finishing flavour – still rather tasty, but clearly for patient ‘cellarers.’