DOMAINE CHANDON de BRIAILLES
It was a chilly day in early November when we flew down to Burgundy from Paris. Our first stop was the Domaine Chandon de Brialles, located four kilometers north of Beaune on the Cote d’Or. As we neared the village of Savigny les Beaune, we realized that we were early for our appointment at the domaine. We looked around hoping that perhaps we could stop for a coffee and croissant but there was nothing, no café, no bar, just miles of vineyards.
No one had had any breakfast and we were about to embark on a tasting of one of the better vineyards in Burgundy. We all looked at each other and wordlessly agreed: a picnic was in order. We had some wine bottles from a dinner at Eli’s in Paris the night before; we had cheese Eli had bought in Paris, some charcuterie and baguette. Du pain, du vin…doesn’t get much better.
We stopped off on the side of the road next to the Isle de Vergelesses vineyard and huddled around the back of the car, allowing the wine to warm us up. We toasted the beginning of another wine-tasting adventure, chuckling as Jean Emmanuel launched into the definition of a premier cru and a grand cru and how they are assigned. We could have stayed there all day, but if we didn’t hurry, we were going to be late. 15 minutes later, we were on our way to Domaine Chandon de Briailles.
The house on the estate is really exquisite. Nestled in the hillside, the house and gardens were built between 1690 and 1705, designed by a student of Andre Le Notre, the architect and landscape designer responsible for the Chateau de Versailles.
The estate dates back to 1834 when it was bought by the Countess Chandon de Briailles (related to the champagne house of Moet & Chandon). It has remained in the family and is currently owned by the Count and Countess Aymard-Claude de Nicolay.
Today the son and daughter of the owners, Francois and Claude run the domaine that they took over from their mother, Nadine de Nicolay in 2001. Its 34 acres of vineyards extend equally across the three villages of Savigny-les-Beaune, Pernand Vergelesses and Aloxe-Corton.
Claude de Nicolay welcomed us warmly, and showed us around. She reiterated how she and her brother are solidly committed to the most perfect expression possible of their terroir and that is why they have been biodynamic since 2008. Chemical fertilizers, herbicides and insecticides have been completely eliminated and she feels that the vineyards have regained their natural balance. The domaine produces about 50,000 bottles a year. It is part of the association known as Les Domaines Familiaux de Tradition which is made up of the 28 most prestigious domains in Burgundy.
Both Claude and Francois are lovely hosts and passionate about vine and wine. As we descended in to the cave, Claude told us that it’s important for their wines to express their vintages aromatically, but also texturally and via the quality of tannins. And they both agreed that it’s important to produce wines that keep and age.
Allons y! Let us taste! Randall
Pernand-Vergelesses 1er Cru Îles de Vergelesses 2011
40+ year old vines, planted to eastern exposure over clay and limestone. Bright, fresh, minty, eucalpytus and licorice.
Corton-Bressandes, Grand Cru 2011
38+ year old vines, planted over clay and limestone, on mid-slope with eastern exposure. 10% new oak, 20% whole cluster. Cool maceration, longer fermentation, punched by foot and pressed in pneumatic press. Resulting wine is earthy and dark fruited.
Pernand-Vergelesses, 1er Cru Les Vergelesses 2009
Planted lower on the slope with predominantly iron-rich, clay soil with 65+ year old vines. Delicious! Broad and rich on the palate. Notes of licorice, plum and black cherries.
Corton-Bressandes, Grand Cru 2007
35 year old vines, planted over clay and limestone, on mid-slope with eastern exposure. Herbal and fruity nose with notes of wild forest berries. Traditional style wines with great typicity for the region.
Savigny-Les-Beaune 1er Cru Les Lavières 2006
Planted in 1954 to south, south-east exposure over mid-slope limestone soil. Lave was a term that referred to the “lava” looking limestone slabs traditionally used on roofs in area. Raised in 5yr old oak. Delicious and a great by the glass option. 100% whole cluster. Mineral, fresh, feminine and floral. Good persistence on the palate.
Pernand-Vergelesses 1er Cru Îles de Vergelesses Blanc 2011
Mid-slope planted vines, planted in 1985 and 1991. Clay and limestone soil based. Creamy I ntexture with notes of exotic fruit and vanilla. Very aromatic. This was chapitalized 1 degree of potential alcohol.
Corton Grand Cru Blanc 2011
Planted to parcels typically planted to Pinot Noir - 80% Corton-Bressandes, 15% Corton Chaumes and 5% Corton Renardes. These Chardonnay vines are planted mid-slope (upslope for Renardes) with south, south-east exposure. Well structured wine with pleasant bitterness on the finish. Rich and complex with herbal and licorice notes. Apple fruit finish.
Corton Grand Cru Blanc 2007
Planted to parcels typically planted to Pinot Noir - 80% Corton-Bressandes, 15% Corton Chaumes and 5% Corton Renardes. These Chardonnay vines are planted mid-slope (upslope for Renardes) with south, south-east exposure. Cooler year, showing bright aromatics, white floral notes, iodine and racy acidity. Richly textured.