2012 Domaine des Terres de Chatenay Vire Clesse Chazelle
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Domaine des Terres de Chatenay Turning Heads in Montrachet

He didn't do it for money. There was almost no hope of recouping the investment in any reasonable period of time. He didn't even do it for the freedom. He'd enjoyed almost every minute of his 18 years heading up the enology team at the cooperative in Vire. No, the reason Jean-Claude Janin walked away from security, even an occasional weekend of fishing, was to raise the bar of the appellation he'd worked so long and hard to champion -- to follow the torch lit by the inimitable Andre Bonhomme over 50 years ago.

The greatest hillsides of Vire-Clesse resemble those of Meursault, Chassagne and Puligny-Montrachet. The soils are calcareous, mixed with fine clay. But unlike the great Chardonnays of the Cote de Beaune, down here, just a few miles north of Macon, there's little tradition for estate-bottled wine. With the exception of the Bonhommes and Thevenets, few have dared to devote the resources and resolve to flirt with Meursault.

We first heard about Jean-Claude's gamble from Gilles Corsin, the wizardly Pouilly-Fuisse producer. Corsin, who doubles as a courtier for the likes of Jadot and Verget, knew all about Janin's prowess in the cellar. That was hardly a local secret. Janin had spent years putting out decent Chardonnay at the cooperative, even if much of the fruit brought to the crushers was farmed poorly. But Corsin knew something else. Jean-Claude was returning to his wife's 9-acre estate and had laid claim to a few of the oldest parcels in Vire-Clesse, resolving to farm them by hand, eschewing the use of herbicides and pesticides. If Jean-Claude did what he was capable of doing, Corsin told us, Janin's Vire-Clesse was about to give all too many in Meursault a run for their money.

During our visit chez Janin three weeks ago, we listened as the brilliant enologist told us how he'd finally worked up the nerve to roll the dice, giving up his fishing rod for weekends on a tractor and clippers. But it wasn't until we walked this small hillside patch where perfectly healthy 65-year-old vines are growing on pure calcaire, that we really came to grips with Corsin's suggestion.

Pale gold in color, the 2012 Terres de Chatenay Vire Clesse is infused with gorgeous aromas of quince and green apple, lightly laced with new wood vanilla. Rich, plump, yet beautifully focused and refine, the luscious old-vine core is packed with apple/pear compote, all buttressed by mouthwatering wet-stone Meursault minerality.

Tasting Notes

2012 Domaine des Terres de Chatenay Vire Clesse Chazelle
Glistening pale gold to the edge, with gorgeous mineral aromas of ripe apple and pear, lightly laced with new wood. Rich and round on the attack, plump, but still wonderfully tense and energetic. In this wonderfully concentrated small yield harvest, the old vines really carried the day, marrying striking opulence with Meursault cut. Drink now for the primary fruit crispness and juiciness -- or do was we're doing and lay this one down for a decade. It could use the rest.
-- WineAccess Travel Log


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