The portfolio tasting of Domaine Chanson is always a hot ticket in the wine writer’s calendar. For the pandemic-hit 2019 vintage tasting, however, Chanson came to us – a 10-wine sample that showed off the négociant’s strong suit, namely wines from the 45 hectares it owns in and around Beaune. It was also an opportunity to assess the quality of the 2019 vintage in Burgundy – a much-lauded collection of wines where the reds, in particular, have pretty fruit and outstanding balance.
“The palate has weight and intensity but is precise at the same time with terrific balance, layers of dark fruit and minerality. There is more flesh on the bones than Clos des Marconnets – a riper fruit profile with more weight and intensity, and a long spicy finish. Really outstanding,” writes Dean.
The Burgundy 2019 en primeur campaign was hit this year, like all of the major wine campaigns, by the global pandemic. Apart from those few writers who did manage to make it to the region to sample a wide range of wines, Domaine Chanson, managed to produce excellent tasting kits that gave us a very good idea of the many strengths of the 2019 vintage.
The 10 wines, all of them Chanson’s Domaine wines, display the quality and variety to be found in Beaune and its surrounds and are reviewed in full later in the article.
But first a little about the estate…
One of the oldest of Beaune’s five great négociant houses, Chanson Père & Fils was founded during the reign of Louis XVth in 1750 by Simon Verry. The Chanson family took control during the 19th century and in 1999 the company was sold to Societé Jacques Bollinger, the family Champagne business who appointed Gilles de Courcel to run it in 2002, before he handed over to Domaine Faiveley’s Vincent Avenel in 2017.
The company’s interests extend as far as Chablis, the Mâconnais and Beaujolais, although the Chanson domaine’s 45 hectares are entirely in the Côte de Beaune and provide about a quarter of the overall production which, in a good year, can stretch to 100 different cuvées.
Chanson has kept its old headquarters and maturation cellars in the ‘bastion’, a medieval stone tower which was one of Beaune’s principal fortifications, with a more modern vinification facility on the edge of town towards Savigny, built in 1974 and which has since been thoroughly modernised.
About the winemaking
The head winemaker is Jean-Pierre Confuron, of Domaine Confuron-Cotétidot in Vosne-Romanée, whose brother Yves supervises Gilles de Courcel’s family domaine in Pommard. The new team has made considerable improvements, beginning in the vineyards which are now ploughed and entirely organic.
All harvesting is done by hand with the grapes picked parcel by parcel, remaining in those parcels throughout the vinification process. The Pinot Noir is fermented in vats and, unusually for one of the major négociants, Chanson reds are made with a good proportion of whole stem bunches included, following a cold soak, which gives a pure, fresh and intensely aromatic character to the wines. Chardonnay is fermented in oak casks with the juice coming only from the middle of the pressing. The majority of the wines see about 30 per cent new oak during maturation.
The winemaking takes place both at the modern facility and at the bastion the latter containing up to 3,000 barriques. Bottling is done entirely by gravity.
So how were the Chanson 2019 wines tasting?
All of the wines tasted were Chanson’s Domaine wines.
Savigny-Lès-Beaune Hauts-Marconnets 1er Cru
Savigny-lès-Beaune produces mainly red wines so this white from Hauts Marconnets – a South-East facing 2.18 ha marl, chalk and limestone vineyard –close to the hills of Beaune 1er Crus, is a bit of a rarity.
Light shiny gold; fresh, elegant nose, notes of lemon verbena, slight wisp of smoke; clean, pure palate with zingy lime and grapefruit, bright acidity and herbal, ginger overtones. Great complexity and quality for this price point, and nicely balanced to boot, despite its 15% ABV.
Pernand-Vergelesses Les Caradeux 1er Cru
Unique mineral characteristics come from this East-facing mid-slop 1.9 ha vineyard close to the hill of Corton-Charlemagne.
To look at the wine is light shiny gold; more intensity on the nose, complex and savoury, there’s a nutty element, nutmeg, coconut husk; wonderful balance in this wine with a richness and concentration to the fruit mid-palate, underpinned with lively acidity, then a complex mineral, citrus, finish. Shows off its fine pedigree at this early stage. 14.5% ABV
Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Chenevottes
From a two hectare Premier Cru vineyard next door to ‘Le Montrachet’ this East-facing site is made up of clay and limestone with the influence of Chassagne stone.
Shiny gold; complex nose with real power, citrus, apricot, hint of vanilla; on the palate the wine is really focused, dry and precise with a complexity and abundance of flavours, fresh citrus zest, saline, mineral, and finishes on a slightly richer, creamy note. Superbly balanced and really quite moreish. 14.5%
Beaune 1er Cru Clos des Mouches
From a 4.5 ha vineyard at the southern end of Beaune on a spur pointing towards Pommard, 2 ha of which are planted with Chardonnay on sandy soil lying on top of limestone. Chanson is one of the major owners of Clos des Mouches.
Shiny gold; the most floral and fruity of the four white wines tasted, quite subtle, hints of orchard fruit, citrus; the palate is focused, well-defined, fresh, quite ample in the mouth but perfectly poised with chiseled texture and really quite delicious.
Pernand-Vergelesses Les Vergelesses 1er Cru
Pernand-Vergelesses is one of Bourgogne’s lesser known appellations – surprising really given that as a commune it houses three Grands Crus including Corton-Charlemagne and Corton. It is tucked into the junction of two valleys in the Côte de Beaune wine region and consists of mainly South and East-facing slopes. The wines here are Pinot Noir and Chardonnay roughly 50/50 in quantity. The French also know Pernand for its long cultural history, particularly with the theatre.
This red is typical Pernand-Vergelesses, it comes from one (5.4 ha vineyard) of eight Premier Cru sites in the appellation and represents excellent value for money.
To look at the wine is medium ruby; the nose is intense and pretty at the same time, seductive aromas mingle of blue plum, cranberry, spices and a distinct orange peel note; there’s a lovely fresh entry which becomes more intense and muscular in the mid-palate, which is followed a dry stone-textured finish. The wine takes you on a bit of a journey but it is still focused and has terrific balance that is one of the characteristics of the new 2019 vintage.
Savigny-Dominode 1er Cru
A vineyard that was formerly owned by the Lord of Savigny comprised of largely chalk soils on a north-east facing mid-slope.
Dark ruby; the nose is intensely aromatic with wild bramble fruit, ripe red berries, forest floor, violets. On the palate the wine is complex with decent structure – there are ripe dry dusty tannins, lovely layered texture, great vibrant presence in the mouth, attractive violet and smoky blackcurrant note on the finish. A good example of how Savigny has been favoured by warmer weather over the past 20 years or so.
Beaune Clos des Marconnets 1er Cru
This four hectare vineyard, Les Marconnets, is located in the northern part of the Beaune 1er Cru appellation.
To look at the wine is pale ruby; the nose is pretty with notes of cranberry, pomegranate, raspberry, wet chalk cave; On the palate the wine is light to medium-weight, decent structure, nice crunch to the fruit, fine grained-tannins, flavours of cranberry coulis, blue plum skin, red plum flesh. Very pure and elegant with pretty ripe fruit framed with a firm structure and long, slightly spicy finish.
Beaune 1er Cru Grèves
From three plots in a two hectare hillside facing Beaune, the name “Grèves” derives from the sandy and gravely soil, which helps give the wine a suppleness and delicate tannins. It’s an early-ripening site, which gets plenty of sun and wind.
To look at the wine is light ruby, the nose is so completely different to the previous reds – slightly floral, red cherries, raspberry and a hint of cooking spice. On the palate the wine is luscious fresh and pure – like a summer pudding with a dash of cream – and a distinct rosewater note on the lovely, fine-grained textured finish. Impressive.
Beaune 1er Cru Clos des Mouches
The Pinot Noir vines in this 4.5 ha vineyard are situated on the middle part of the plot, south-east facing, on a limestone and clay soil with rocks.
To look at the wine is light-mid ruby; the nose is ripe, intense, with complex and pretty aromas of red berries, rose petals, spice. On the palate the wine is light, with a dense, refined texture, nice register and grip on the palate, velvety tannins, the flavours of redcurrant and cranberry are succulent and fresh – pure, juicy red berry fruit with an undercurrent of minerality and saline. Stunning – drink now or cellar.
Beaune Clos des Fèves 1er Cru
This monopole has become the emblematic cuvée of the domaine, responsible for some of the best wine of the Premiers Crus appellation. It’s a 3.8 ha mid-slope site whose excellence can be traced back to at least the 14thCentury where it was referred to as ‘Fae’ the Latin word for East – its orientation. The soil is complex, composed as it is of clay and limestone.
To look at the wine is pale ruby; the aromas are complex and intriguing – red and black fruit, with much darker fruit than the previous red wines – black cherry, bramble fruit, earth and toasted spice. The palate has weight and intensity but is precise at the same time with terrific balance, layers of dark fruit and minerality. There is more flesh on the bones than Clos des Marconnets, riper fruit profile with more weight and intensity, and a long spicy finish. Really outstanding.
The wines of Domaine Chanson Père et Fils are imported into the UK by Mentzendorff which is a supplier partner of The Buyer. To discover more about them click here.