Beaune 1er Clos des Mouches – the 100th year of the vines in the Drouhin Estate

By billn on June 04, 2021 #degustation

100 years of Beaune Clos des Mouches
Zoom tasted(!) 04 June 2021.

Although in existence since 1880, Maison Drouhin were initially involved in the trading and ageing wines.

Maurice Drouhin joined the family company in 1918. In 1921 he decided to buy vines – but they had to be the best and closest possible as all the travel in this time was still by horse. The Clos des Mouches was his choice and he said that he considered this to be the best place in Beaune.

Of course, today, Maison Drouhin are more Domaine Drouhin, owning 80 hectares of vines in over 60 appellations – with 100 miles between the farthest north and south – at least in France – let’s not forget that they are present in Oregon too.

Drouhin owns 14 hectares of Clos des Mouches – that’s 55% of this 25.2-hectare premier cru – the average vine age in their vineyard now over 30, nearer 35. ‘Honey Flies‘ (mouches) but the vines are not much use to the bees as they can’t make honey from these flowers! The labels were designed by current team’s grandfather, Maurice. Roughly planted to half red and white but with various terroirs within, not just because of the higher and lower altitudes but also with much variance in the depth and style of the soils – “It’s a patchwork of red and white and it’s like that because it’s taken us 100 years to work out which parcel works best for which!

The vineyard was always a co-plantation with red and smaller amounts of white which could round out the palate of the reds – and only a red had been produced in the first years of ownership. The inflection point came in 1928; the chardonnays weren’t ripe at the start of the harvest that year so the team began with the reds. When the chardonnay (and pinot blanc in those days) were eventually harvested they went through a separate elevage and the Drouhin team thought – “Oh that’s rather good!” There were only 300 bottles of that cuvée, all bought by a Paris restaurant but since that vintage, they have also made their white Clos des Mouches.

Today, 8-10 days are required to pick the various parcels at optimum ripeness. Each parcel is vinified separately – it’s like that each year – assemblies being chosen towards the end of elevage. For the whites fermentation there are sometimes 5, sometimes 6 different elevages – of different sizes depending on the parcel.

We took a quick look at the 2018 vintage and compared the Clos des Mouches wine with that of their Côte de Beaune wine. The latter from higher vines on the ‘Mountain’ of Beaune but also blended with the young vines declassified from the Clos des Mouches. The white has only these two components as Drouhin have no other premier cru whites in Beaune, but the red Côte de Beaune also has the young vines of other Beaune 1ers included, such as Cras, Champimonts etcetera.

Team Drouhin

Véronique on the 2018 Vintage:
The year started with an early bud- break at the start of April and we already had the flowers in early May. A year that was dry and ‘luminous’ in the summer then veraison already started in mid-July. Aug 30 to September 08 was the actual harvesting window in our Clos des Mouches – some 25% of whole clusters used for the red. Whites bottled after the reds in this vintage – which isn’t always the case but it’s our tasting that will determine.

Note: Half-bottles chez Drouhin are sealed with DIAM – but at this stage, all others are with cork.

2018 Côte de Beaune Blanc
3ha owned, red and white plus some from Clos des Mouches – young vines for instance – mainly 300-370 m high. This white made with no more than 20% new barrels but a lot of 500-litre barrels… no other Beaune whites in this
A honied freshness, still with a depth of citrus, partly floral. I like the flavour attack here – mouth-watering and with fine energy despite the warm vintage. There is an impressive concentration that holds equally impressively in the finish. This is delicious and already drinking great.

2018 Beaune 1er Clos des Mouches Blanc
Aromatically, here is a modest barrel spice but also impressive and complex width too – less overt, less forward than the Côte de Beaune today. The shape and depth of this flavour is more structural, a little saline too – though partly that could be the barrels. A fine sizzle of energy is the spine of the finish here. Impressive, a little structural, barrel and zesty-citrus-inflected finishing flavours. Impressive and obviously for keeping. I’d wait at least 2-3 years before revisiting – the barrel should be history by then.

2018 Côte de Beaune Rouge
Some Cras and Champimonts in here too, not more than 5% whole cluster in total.
Medium colour. A round and very attractive red, acid-cherry, nose. Open, sweet fruit but direct, with fine acidity, an impression of cherry-stone. Bright, slightly phenolic – deliciously phenolic – finishing. A very moreish wine despite the modestly structural elements. Like the white, delicious and already completely approachable – if no rush to drink.

2018 Beaune 1er Clos des Mouches Rouge
We have always been happy to play with the whole clusters here – provided that they are ripe.
Clearly a lot more colour. The cherry-stone-aromas, slightly acidulated accented by the more herby aromatic that comes from the stems – but no overt oak notes here. In the mouth there is much more scale, fine depth of flavour too – again, like the nose, the oak is not overt. Vibrant finishing, a little phenolic bitters in the finish. Rather a complete wine that you should wait at least 2-3 years before revisiting. Excellent wine.

Overall, I was amazed at how well the wines tasted when you consider the logistics involved in filling small sample bottles and then shipping them around Europe – bravo!

weekend wines, week 20 2021

By billn on May 25, 2021 #degustation

weekend 20 2021 wines

2019 Clos de la Chapelle, Pernand-Vergelesses 1er Sous Frétille (Blanc)
Cork, but a slightly thicker cork, I think…
ooh – that’s super – not just a depth but a sweeping width of fresh citrus aroma – I am ready! Nicely mouth-filling with wine – such lovely energy here too – almost a vibration to it, drilling a lovely insistent flavour into my tongue. The finish is rather good too. Lovely stuff!
Rebuy – Yes

2011 Maison Clavelier, Morey St.Denis
Cork – and I have to say – a good one – robust and hardly treated. The wine that I didn’t get chance to drink last weekend…
Plenty of colour for an 11. The nose is just a little tight – whilst not exactly showing pyrazine (I didn’t note any when originally tasting, way back when) there is a subtle peanut note and a less subtle wooden railway sleepers/creosote aroma that vibrates/jarred, just like a pyrazine would. The first night it’s quite strong in the flavours too. I drank this over 4 evenings and the creosote note reduced each night whilst the wine still stayed in very good shape. There is depth and balance and for a 2011 fine concentration too. I begrudgingly rather liked this wine.
Rebuy – No

2018 Alex Gambal, St.Aubin 1er Les Murgers des Dents du Chien
The first from this six-pack, and as I guessed/feared last week – yep returning to cork (the right-hand one) under Boisset management. Branded with the vintage but not the name of the producer – but it seems a good, sturdy, Amorim cork all the same…
Like the 2017, I note a little creamy oak accompaniment to the largely yellow citrus fruit. Another white this week where I like the energy – it’s nicely vibrant – if not to the same level as the Pernand. Easy but very delicious flavours here. For the price still an easy rebuy – despite my cork disappointment – but last week’s 2017 is certainly the better wine today.
Rebuy – Yes

weekend 19 2021 – the wines…

By billn on May 18, 2021 #degustation

weekend 19 2021 – the wines

Starting with two great 2017s then an almost equally great 2018 that still managed to annoy me!

2017 Claire & Fabien Chasselay, Brouilly Les Balloquets
A lovely fresh, crunchy, dark-red fruit. Energy and freshness here – really a deliciously mouth-watering flavour – practically juicy. A wine that disappears so quickly you will be left with both an empty glass and an empty bottle. Bravo!
Rebuy – Absolutely

2017 Alex Gambal, St.Aubin 1er Les Murgers des Dents du Chien
The penultimate vintage chez Gambal – it’s also the first Gambal that I’ve seen with a DIAM – and a DIAM10 too.
Hmm – that’s a great nose – though blind the modest spice might have me thinking ‘Meursault.’ Really fine energy in the mouth – detail, super clarity of flavour too – that’s great – it needs a little time for the oak notes in the middle and finish to fade but it’s a beauty all the same – and DIAM too – a wine for the ages. That said I’ve never had a bad wine from Gambal with cork either…
Rebuy – Absolutely Again

2018 Alex Gambal, Bourgogne Aligoté
Vines in the Hautes Côtes – but – back to cork – WTF! Yes the bottling was done after the purchase of the business by Boisset, and none of their labels use DIAM – more fool them, though I suppose more fool me too as I bought the wines!
A forward open nose – and impression of ripe but energetic pineapple fruit. For an 18 here is very fine freshness and energy – the combination is super juicy! Tasty and long too – but this 6-pack will mainly be finished in 2-3 years as the DIAMs are now gone!
Rebuy – yes for the wine, no for the corks

2011 Clavelier, Morey St.Denis
Not opened: Night one I fancied a glass but only one so decided to wait for Sunday. On the Sunday evening I learned that I was to be the chauffeur! Maybe next week 🙂

weekend 18 2021 – the wines…

By billn on May 12, 2021 #degustation

weekend 18 2021 wines

2013 Pavelot, Pernand-Vergelesses 1er Sous Frétille
There’s a little depth to the colour but still quite modest. The nose starts tight but with air you have a growth of both freshness and clarity of deep and ripe fruit – airy and mineral almost textural too. Here’s a nose that just keeps getting better and better! Concentrated, silky with a shimmer of acidity that’s highlighted with a little salinity. The finish is long, mineral but quite narrow – persistent all the same. Not super-energetic but enough. A wine that started with a certain tightness but became more and more interesting as it relaxed in the glass.
Rebuy – Maybe

2009 Camille Giroud, Corton
There was much discussion as to what cuvée name should be given to this wine – because the grape contract stipulated ‘no climat’ – because with the climat you would have known who sold the grapes! In the end the wine was ready to bottle with no very good ideas – so a simple Corton it was…
A modest medium, medium-plus colour – for a grand cru anyway. A nose that’s alive with sweet dark sugar and an attractive dried leaf – modestly mature and certainly beckoning! There’s both freshness and intensity here, a wine that has plenty of middle concentration, then a slowly lingering finale – but oh-so-long. For an ‘anonymous’ Corton, this was simply great wine – bravo!
Rebuy – Yes

2018 Céline & Nicolas Hirsch, Les Terraces
As the name suggests – a wine cultivated on terraces – young vines of Sylvaner in Chénas.
I really loved the 2019 of this that I tasted in my tour of 2019s in February, this wine I loved a little less. It actually smelled like crémant (spellcheck suggests cement here!) but without the bubbles. A sort of appley – almost oxidative style. It remains quite drinkable but the 2018 is a wine that I like much less.
Rebuy – No

melon de bourgogne

By billn on May 10, 2021 #degustation

Melon de BourgogneMelon de Bourgogne is an assuredly old Burgundian grape – though you would be forgiven for only ever having come across it in your glass when labelled as Muscadet – or Muscadet sur Lie.

Le Melon, as the (rare!) aficionados call it, has all but vanished from Burgundy – only about 2 hectares remain in production – 60% with one producer (in two plots) just outside of Beaune and the rest in the Yonne, near Tannay. Not yet in production, Armand Heitz (of Chassagne) has also just planted a plot!

This is a late-ripening variety with recorded local roots in the 13th century. Philip II of Spain, who was also Duke of Burgundy, banned its plantation in 1367 – not disloyal just not good! – but even back then, the locals didn’t like being told what to do! There were still around 40 hectares recorded in the Côte d’Or in 1960 but 30 years later there was just 1 hectare left!

Partly responsible for this decline is that Le Melon is not one of the ‘allowed‘ grapes of Burgundy – as you may note from the label, above, this wine is an IGP Saint Marie la Blanche – the words ‘Burgundy’ or Bourgogne’ are not allowed anywhere near the label!

Anyway, 3 notes for you here and an ‘allowed’ grape or not, I’ll add a section on Le Melon here later in the growing season – when I’ve images of something worth photographing 😉

2018 Melon
Plenty of colour. A narrow nose but deep and suggesting a faint oxidative salinity. Wide, vibrant, yes a slightly oxidative style – almost apple flavour – a grain to the texture almost a grainy complexity. I find the finish rather spicy – it’s supposed to be the same as muscadet but not here – nop!

2019 Melon
A little extra green tinge to the colour. Also a deep nose but here it’s due to a faint reduction. Fuller, a faint impression of oak – extra freshness – nicer fruit here. There’s only 2% barrel elevage the rest is in tank – this rather creamy but I assume I’m tasting something other than those barrels.

2020 Melon
In bottle 1 month.
This the most higher-toned and floral nose – it’s very attractive and certainly the freshest. In the mouth too – vibrant, fresh, more saline and intense – lovely acidity here. Whilst I loved the creaminess of the last, the nose was slightly sullen – this is a great around wine though!

If you are interested in something a little different, just 7km form the centre of Beaune, you can buy this wine (and their other Bourgognes (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Aligoité, Crémant)) at their domaine shop, here

mid-weekers, week 18 2021…

By billn on May 07, 2021 #degustation

midweek wines week 18 2021

Last weekend there were no wines for me – but not because I was on the wagon – rather because I received my first covid-jab on Friday evening – Pfizer – so I let that do its thing before opening something a couple of days later…

2019 Yvon & Laurent Vocoret, Chablis
Whilst I personally prefer DIAM for whites, here is a winemaker with convictions – it’s cork but even for his entry-level Chablis, it’s NDtech cork! No cheap alternatives here.
A forward of aroma here – attractive and deep, reflections of fresh citrus. Good energy and not with the forward sweetness that many recent Chablis show chez Nanson – but still all the deliciousness of 2019 – I prefer this. Structurally sound, suggesting some salinity in the finish – that’s an excellent and delicious Chablis.
Rebuy – Yes

2006 Albert Bichot, Beaune 1er Champimonts
Plenty of depth to this colour and it’s now starting to show a little age. Creamy, some depth of more mature notes – and some, now, attractive last vestiges of oak. Ooh, that‘s a rather silky texture and there’s concentration here too. A width of flavour, sweetness of old fruit and still some (now) quite modest bitters – probably originally from the oak but still bringing a sense of dryness to the texture. The nose is getting better and better with time – freshening up and becoming more fruit-focused. It’s drinking but in terms of the submerged depth of tannin and those finishing bitters, still far from a fully ready or fully delicious wine. If I had more – I don’t know if I do! – I’d be tempted to wait for its 20th birthday. I’ll have to find something nicer for the weekend…
Rebuy – No

wines from weekend 16, 2021

By billn on April 26, 2021 #degustation

wines - week 16 2021

2018 Dubreuil-Fontaine, Pernand-Vergelesses 1er Clos Berthet
Modestly yellow coloured. An incisive, fresh nose with a touch of oak and even some aniseed. Hmm, that’s a lovely wine, just a slight depth of cushioning but still with fresh energy and even a little salinity too. Slowly widening as it lingers in the finish. Easy but delicious.
Rebuy – Yes

2005 Gaston & Pierre Ravaut, Ladoix 1er Le Bois Roussot
A good strong cork in this one
Medium-plus colour that’s starting to show a little age. Ooh + now thats a very lovely nose – roast red fruit but with a vibration of deeper aromas, partly from a little maturity – that’s a great invitation. Wide over the palate, a wine that quickly grows in mouth-watering intensity and then sustains a lovely finish. There are many Cortons in other vintages that are less accomplished than this. A wine that’s really starting to come into a great place…
Rebuy – Yes

And you noted a third wine, didn’t you! I got 3 of these Gevreys as part a mixed auction lot around 2009. The first bottle was eminently drinkable around that time – a second more recent bottle was not, all mean and astringent, what charm it once had was departed. I didn’t even taste this one, it went straight into the beef bourguignon – and that, let me tell you, was delicious!!!

David Clark’s now 14-year-old Bourgogne…

By billn on April 21, 2021 #degustation

David Clark 2007 Bourgogne Au Pelson

2007 David Clark, Bourgogne Pinot Noir Au Pelson
A great looking dark/untreated and robust cork.
Plenty of colour. A cushioned width of darker-fruited aroma, oh-so faintly accented with the first impressions of a little more mature complexity – that’s a really great invitation to drink, for a Bourgogne. Silky attack but there‘s concentration here that’s framed with an über-fine tannin that adds a very faint phenolic dryness. Widening towards the finish, properly structured but showing extra floral complexity and just enough sweetness to keep you coming back for another sip – this is the best this wine has ever tasted! Still a young wine, but with a combination of structure and clarity of flavour that’s generally uncommon in 2007s – a great showing.
Rebuy – Yes

Christophe Savoye’s 2019 Chiroubles Cuvée Loic

By billn on April 18, 2021 #degustation

Savoye Chiroubles Cuvée Loic2019 Christophe Savoye, Chiroubles Cuvée Loic
Plenty of colour. Here’s a welcoming nose of dark fruit with a graphite mineral depth – that’s a great start. First, there’s intensity, then there’s width, then a sizzlingly sweet and dark fruit. Fine texture and no grain to the tannin – this wine has my attention in all departments – finishing with small ripples of persistent flavour that recall the nose. A wine that’s sweet but not oversweet or cloying but it is certainly very delicious. Bravo!
Rebuy – Yes

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