The Lovely 2013 Burgundies of Chandon de Briailles (and some stately 2012s)

12/11/15 -

At Chambers Street Wines, we have had the great fortune to work with a number of fabulous organic growers over the years. With our mandate of supporting good farming and traditional wine-making, offering the Burgundies from Domaine Chandon de Briailles is a distinct pleasure. Based in the village of Savigny-lès-Beaune with vines in Corton and Pernand-Vergelesses, the estate has roots going back to 1834. Claude de Nicolay, along with her brother François de Nicolay, fashion pure, old-school, age-worthy Burgundy. The vineyard work has been organic since the 1980s and certified biodynamic since 2005 with vines replanted with massale selection. Yields are kept low to express the terroir of each vineyard. In most vintages the estate uses whole cluster fermentation to add a layer of structure to ensure ageability, though the regimen can be modified depending on vintage character. Wine making is ultra-traditional with fermentations begun with native yeasts in tank, long elevages, with minimal influence of new oak, and bottling without fining or filtration. This light and deft hand brings out the distinctive character of each vineyard.

The 2013 vintage was a difficult one in Burgundy. Flowering was spare, weather was cool, and a large hail storm, in late July, did substantial damage to the vineyards in Savigny-lès-Beaune and Pernand-Vergelesses. Some vineyards lost up to 95% of their fruit and overall yields were down 75%. With normal vintages producing 100 barrels, 2013 yielded just 25; leading Claude de Nicolay to refer to it as the “virtual vintage.” The coolness of the vintage led to a long hang time for the grapes with the harvest running from October 10th  thru the 16th. Yet despite the travails of the growing season, the fruit that was brought in was lovely. The wines after an especially long elevage are pretty, with great purity of fruit, if not massive concentration. They should drink on the earlier side and express the delicacy of Pinot Noir fruit and terroir. For those seeking greater power, structure, and longevity we have some of the magnificent 2012s remaining in stock which are fantastic candidates for long-term aging.  -John McIlwain

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