2013 Domaine des Terres de Chatenay Viré-Clessé Chazelle
 
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Jean-CLaude Janin & Terres de Chatenay 65-Year-Old-Vine White Burgundy "Classic"

Last Tuesday, after a week of much needed R&R off France's western coastline, we said goodbye to the Île de Ré — to the line-caught wild bass, the fleur de sel and the choppy seas of the Atlantic — and went back to work. Our first stop was in Sancerre. Then it was on to the calcareous hillsides of the Mâconais.

You heard it here first: In the case of the top cellars in both regions, the unusually late harvest of 2013 gave birth to some of the richest, most finely chiseled, marvelously wound-up white wines we've tasted in the last 35 years. While lesser producers — particularly those who wouldn't respond quickly to the drama of the growing season — came up short, for the likes of Daulny, Pinard, Roger and Hippolyte Reverdy in Sancerre, and Corsin, Janin, Denogent, Bonhomme and La Croix Senaillet in Mâcon, you should buy every case of these phenomenally mineral whites you can fit in the cellar.

Each of these wines will pay dividends immediately, but according to their makers and to our tasting notes — regardless of the understated price tags — most won't hit full stride until late in the 2020s!

During a three-hour visit and tasting with Jean-Claude Janin, the enologist whose old-vine Viré-Clessé Chazelle has quickly become one of the most talked-about white Burgundies of the region, explained why.

"The season started out promising enough," Jean-Claude told us. "The winter of 2012-2013 was cold, which is always good for the vines. Then we had some warm days in March and the vines seemed to be off to another fast start. But from that point on, we rode a climatic roller coaster the likes of which I hadn't seen since I first began making wine in the Mâconais."

If you visited France last June as we did, you know all about the spring and early summer of 2013. It was cold. It was wet. It was miserable. Flowering took place in early June, but was disrupted by some inopportune rain. The set was very small and often uneven.

"Summer really began in late June," Janin continued, "and really, from then until the end of August, we barely had a drop of rain. While the vines remained a week to 10 days behind the norm, the spring rain — particularly in the case of the deep-rooted old vines at Chazelle — kept the vines from suffering from hydric stress. I waited until the end of the first week of October to harvest Chazelle. Looking back, it was the latest harvest since 1991!"

The 65-year-old vines of Chazelle eked out just 2 tons per acre of tiny-berry clusters, some faintly touched by honeyed botrytis, or what the Burgundians call pourriture noble — making for a phenomenally rich and complex Chardonnay that makes you wonder why you'd ever again spend $30 on a New World white.

Brilliant, glistening, golden-green in color, infused with piercing aromas of ripe apple, pear, and honeysuckle, tinged with white flowers and anise. Rich and powerfully concentrated — yet due to its riveting pH of just 3.2, equally light on its feet — the attack is dense and compact, filled with apple/pear minerality, touched with honey, finishing with great persistence and penetration. Drink now for its youthful vibrance, or do as we're doing and lay down one of the classic white Burgundies of 2013 for 15-20 years.



Tasting Notes

2013 Domaine des Terres de Chatenay Viré-Clessé Chazelle
"The 2013 Domaine des Terre de Chatenay Viré-Clessé Chazelle is a classic white Burgundy. Brilliant, glistening, golden-green in color, infused with piercing aromas of ripe apple, pear, and honeysuckle, tinged with white flowers and anise. Rich and powerfully concentrated — yet due to its riveting pH of just 3.2, equally light on its feet — the attack is dense and compact, filled with apple/pear minerality, tinged with honey, finishing with great persistence and penetration. Drink now for its youthful vibrancy, or do as we're doing and lay this Meursault look-alike down until the late 2020s."
-- WineAccess Travel Log

 

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