I headed toward Savigny-lès-Beaune in the mist, with the smoke from the burning of vine cuttings illuminated against the hills. It was my last day in the Côte d’Or.
The cellar was cold at Domaine Chandon de Briailles, where Claude de Nicolaÿ-Drouhin gave me a tour of the 2007s. We started in Savigny, moving to Pernand and finally the grands crus of Corton.
The bottling began in November at the domaine, two months earlier than usual. “I wanted to capture the freshness of the vintage and, because we use whole berries, the wines can get dry if you leave them too long in barrel,” explained Nicolaÿ-Drouhin.
“[The wines] were kind of thin after the vinification, but gained richness after the malolactic fermentation. The lees did a really good job,” she added.
Some wines were still in barrel; others had been bottled. The SLB Aux Fourneaux, for example, was in barrel. It showed rich, red cherry notes, bright and juicy, with firm but well-coated tannins (86-89). Its cousin, the SLB Lavières, had been bottled the previous week. Full of spice and red berry aromas, it was elegant and supple, with fine length (87-90).
Moving up the valley, the Pernand-Vergelesses Les Vergelesses (bottled in November; from vineyards planted in 1956 and 1959) displayed ripe, macerated cherry and spice flavors on a round profile, with density and a spicy finish (86-89). The Iles des Vergelesses, still in barrel, offered spice and licorice flavors on a firm, intense and light-weight frame (87-90). Chandon de Briailles owns one nearly 10-acre parcel, with 2.5 acres of 60-year-old vines.
There are three Cortons in the cellar: Les Maréchaudes, Bressandes and Clos du Roi. The first two were already in bottle. Les Maréchaudes is lower on the slope and the red soils have more clay. It can be a little rustic, but the team at Chandon de Briailles has been working hard to keep yields down and de Nicolaÿ-Drouhin feels the biodynamic viticulture and plowing by horse has resulted in a more elegant Les Maréchaudes. It was meaty and dense, with loam and spice aromas, a core of cherry fruit, turning more elegant and firm on the finish (88-91).
|Vine cuttings burn in the vineyards of Savigny.|