Profile: Domaine des Terres de Velle (Auxey)

Update 27.4.2012(29.4.2012)billn

It had been a while since I caught up with Sophie and Fabrice Laronze. Long-time contacts when they worked together with Alex Gambal, they had moved-on to set up their own domaine in Auxey-Duresses. As the considerable amount of building-work was coming to an end, I decided it was time to brave the mud!

Just entering the village you will see a sign-post on your left pointing you to the domaine. Team Laronze arrived here in July 2009, only a few weeks before the harvest – virtually the only thing they could influence was the picking date, but the vines were in quite good shape and although the yield was a little higher than they would have liked, the 2009 vintage took over and the wines were good., but the team are much prouder of their 2010s: The domaine had previously used herbicides and picking machines – this is all gone now.

The vines

The domaine is six hectares – all domaine, no négoce – and has just three ‘employees’. There was around 5 hectares when they moved in, but small parcels in (for instance) Santenay and Pommard were sold so they came down to 4.5 ha. A little Chassagne was bought, then a small domaine too which contributed some Bourgogne, Meursault and Puligny. Now the domaine is about 60% white wine and already exporting to the US, UK, Japan etcetera.

This was an old and rather small domaine – the investor knew that it would need to be updated, but after two vintages it was clear that life was very hard and the plans were made. Bottling of the 09s was done in February 2011, but then all the bottles were moved to a facility in Beaune because the builders arrived in March! The domaine today looks capable of producing much more than its current 30,000 bottles.

Debudding, serious pruning, and now only treatments for mildew / oïdium. Some of their Auxey vines are pruned in the Lyre fashion, but it’s not clear how long this late-1960s ‘experiment’ will be allowed to continue. In the cuverie everything is destemmed “to start with we need to know about the parcels and their maturity – as we get experience we might consider some whole clusters.” Whites have hardly any battonage but will have their CO2 adjusted before bottling if it seems a little low – “I do everything I can to ‘control’ the quality of my corks” says Fabrice.

The wines

Tasted 10th November 2011.
Most of the whites were assembled in tank for bottling – probably on the 20th December when it will a good phase of the moon. A hint of bentonite and a light casein fining, but no filtering. Currently everything is sealed under cork “but, of-course we will listen tour customers” says Fabrice, “Screw-caps are a possibility that we have”.

This is a very strong set of wines, and ones that I would recommend to anybody. Bravo!

2010 Terres de Velle, Bourgogne
13 barrels from two parcels, one in the area of Pommard, the other Volnay. About 10-15% new oak.
High toned aromas that are both pretty and precise. Amply concentrated for its level and with very good acidity and length of flavour – indeed it holds on very well indeed. Super Bourgogne.

2010 Terres de Velle, Auxey-Duresses
Old vines under fermage, ‘grand cru’ yields of 30hl/ha in 2010, raised in 25% new oak.
There’s more depth to this nose – nicely fresh aromas. This wine seems understated after the Bourgogne, but the concentration creeps up on you – long and lingering with a dark-red fruit flavour. Just a little grain to the tannin, but I expect this will be great value (like the Bourgogne!)

2010 Terres de Velle, Volnay ez Blanches
From near Clos des Chênes, raised in 30% new oak.
The mineral nose shows flashed of dark fruit. More texture and structure after the Auxey – good tannin – more mid-palate flavour too. Very nice, though I expect there’s also a price premium over the Auxey.

2010 Terres de Velle, Monthèlie 1er Les Duresses
Cordon de Royat pruning, a nice block near the vines of Hospices de Beaune – raised in 30% new oak.
This has a very Volnay nose of elegant red fruits and fainter flowers – perhaps some more muscle too. Round, with a little fine-grained texture. Very good acidity, the minerality comes through at the end of the mid-palate and commands the finish. Lovely!

2010 Terres de Velle, Volnay 1er Ronceret
Just below the Champans of Prieur. “We like to work in these vines – the soils is easy to work!” A natural 13.3°, raise in 25% new oak.
This has a very elegant nose, subtlety not impact here. Concentrated, yet light across the palate, just a little tannin shows through the almost seamless whole. Fresh with a nicely mineral finish – excellent!

2010 Terres de Velle, Bourgogne Chardonnay
”One parcel in 2010 (will be two in 2011), and the first parcel we picked as it ripens easily – a shame the yield was very small (under 40hl/ha).”
Plenty of aromatic impact – hints of fresh pineapple in the mix. Understated acidity, but it grows with the flavour; this is narrow, linear, serious chardonnay that stands apart from those sweet bourgognes augmented with Maçon – there’s even a little minerality. Good wine.

2010 Terres de Velle, Monthèlie Blanc
From Les Sous Roches – the steep valley near Les Duresses – relatively young vines of around 20 years-old.
Again, there are hints of pineapple on the nose. Just an extra edge of sweetness to the fruit but it’s matched with an extra dose of minerality. Lovely acidity too – there’s lots here that I value!

2010 Terres de Velle, Auxey-Duresses Les Hautes
The vines here average over 55 years old – but just two barrels, neither of which were new oak.
Fuller aromas with that pineapple again. In the mouth there’s more muscle, intensity and density – but brought together with benchmark acidity. This is very lovely!

2010 Terres de Velle, Meursault
”From two parcels; the bigger is from Les Luchets, the second smaller one is Les Vireuils. We actually sold Les Vireuils after, when we bought the Les Croteau and Les Grandes Charmes. The east-facing old vines in Les Luchets are the last ones we pick as there is no botrytis.” Raised in a little over 25% new oak.
Very nice, crisp and soap-powder clean aromas; faintly spicy too, with a little SO2 for company. This is relatively rich and round, with some plushness to the texture, but the acidity and the energy it brings is the perfect foil allowing for a good balance.

2010 Terres de Velle, Chassagne-Montrachet La Platière
First vintage, from 22 year-old vines near Abbaye de Morgeot. “We are very careful with the ripeness as the soil is deep and rich, but we do our best to retain vivacity.”
Swirling releases the classic Chassagne green herb aromas. Full, less rich but more depth than the Meursault – certainly more impact. Penetrating acidity and a good, sweet length. There’s much to commend here.

2010 Terres de Velle, Puligny-Montrachet
From 2 lieu-dits; the biggest is Les Noirots under the Clos des Mouchére, plus les Levrons. In 2010 we had a big frost though, so the yield in Les Levrons was very small – only one or two clusters per vine.” Raised in 35% new oak with a very light toasting.
Clean and bright aromas. This has a nice base of acidity and pretty detailing, though today it seems less ‘together’ than the Chassagne. Actually I really like all the parts – probably the rising moon with bring their integration…

Domaine des Terres de Velle
Chemin Sous la Velle
21190, Auxey-Duresses
Tel: +33 (0)3 80 22 80 31
Fax: +33 (0)9 72 12 14 95

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