After more than 30 years in the business, I have been at this long enough to recognize the emergence of a new star when I see it. I am pleased to say that I see this happening to our established house-favorite Burgundy producer, the Domaine de La Clos de la Chapelle (DCC for short.) I no longer need to hype the wines from this (relatively) new estate. The critics have taken on the task and are doing the job very well indeed.
Critics on the Case
The reviews and scores for the domaine's wines are a match for any on the entire Cote de Beaune. From the John Gilman, to The Wine Spectator, Bruce Sanderson to Jasper Morris, they are all on board. In may vintages Gilman gives his highest set of Cote de Beaune scores to this domaine and the other reviewers are not that far behind.
There is a reassuring consistency to the critical acclaim across vintages and vineyards, all is as it should be and all is reliable. This is hardly surprising as the domaine has been carefully assembled, with remarkable restraint and intelligent negotiation to include only premier or grand cru vineyards from top to bottom.
An Intelligent and Gifted Team
The Domaine de la Clos de la Chapelle grew from the old Volnay estate of Louis Boillot and is rechristened eponymously after it's monopole vineyard in the center of the village. The domaine is run with dedication and wisdom by an experienced team that knows its way around the world of fine wine, just as much as the backroads of Burgundy. At its head, the proprietor-vigneron, Mark O’Connell, who is one of Burgundy's greatest admirers and collectors, and now a trained winemaker to boot. His partners are Philippe Remoissonet, from one of Burgundy's oldest families, and a talented emerging star, Pierre Meurgey. Who knows his way around the vineyards as well as anyone on the Cote. The combination is irresistible; this domaine is now producing wine of the highest quality whose reputation and (sadly) prices, are sure to rise.
Sweet-Spot For Value
When I entered the wine business a generation ago, the price-tiers for village, premier cru, and grand cru were uniformly linear; the step from village to premier cru was significant, but worth it, then the next step, to grand cru, was only about the same again. And although more money (about double the price of a village wine) the grand cru's prices were more like an extension of the best premier cru wines, rather than the lottery-winners and billionaire's price, at a different order of magnitude than village level, as they are today.
The grand crus of the Cote de Nuits have now become trophies who's prices make little sense. If you have the money, sure, buy them, they are probably the greatest wines on the planet, but if you still care what your pleasure costs you, or perhaps you wish to remain married, there is a level below this extreme, where quality can be found at a less painful and moderate price. Back on the Cote de Beaune, the solid string of premier cru vineyards in Volnay and Pommard and the bridesmaid grand crus of Corton have been left relatively unchanged in the Burgundy price spiral. Their prices are much higher than they were a generation ago, for sure, but without 'serious' grand crus (Corton's reputation barely makes the grade) prices for the top Cote de Beaune vineyards are still anchored to reality and true value.
Simply put: the best value red Burgundies now come from the best producers of the Cote de Beaune, and in particular Volnay, where their finest offerings fall either side of about $100. These wines are generally still a significant step up from wines at $50-$70, yet they can rival wines from the Cote de Nuits that cost twice to five times as much.
Under-Priced Against ‘The Competition’
Without meaning to denigrate or undermine some of the other superb wines coming out of the cellars of the most esteemed and great cellars of the Cote de Beaune, it should not go un-noticed that Mark O’Connell has maintained his prices at the very same level since the domaine was inaugurated in 2010.
They were well-priced then, even for a new name. But here we are 10 years later, with a proven track record, an expanded stable of 11 1er and grand cru climats and consistent rave reviews, year in year out.
So it seems only fair to compare prices with Clos de la Chapelle’s peers. Not to put too fine a point on it, these wines are at least as good or better than the competition, and they are universally cheaper.
The 2018 Vintage
In the run-up to this offer Mark O'Connell just recently confided that he thought the 2018s were the strongest vintage the domaine has produced to date, for consistency and dramatic success of the best sites. I am not going to argue. Despite relatively warm conditions and unusually abundant yields, the Clos de la Chapelle 2018s have depth and poise where many wines I tasted from other producers on a trip in November, showed the heat. As you will see from tasting notes below. there is little evidence of high alcohol or over-ripe fruit in the wines, yet they will always show opulence and generosity that is sure to be a hallmark of the 2018 vintage.
- 2018 Pre-Sale – Wines Are Released Now: Arriving April/May
- Tasting Notes and Reviews from Jasper Morris (MW) Supplemented by my own (MG)
10% Discount Will Be Applied To Orders For a Mixed Case of 12 bottles or More
2018, Beaune Les Reversées 1er Cru, Domaine Clos de la Chapelle
$55 per bottle ($49.50 per bottle in a mixed case)
(89-91) points Jasper Morris: "They have switched their red to white here, as has Domaine Pernot. Pale colour with an attractive fresh nose, not too much detail yet. Racked to tank, no fining. I like the palate with its crisp, almost chalky white fruit, balanced with the oak, and good length.
MG - 4 barrels, 1 new. really good intensity, bright, gingery some wintergreen, Vanilla lees. Rich, oily, good acid dry mid palate. dry and dusty finish with some oak."
2018, Pernand-Vergelesses Sous Frétille 1er Cru, Domaine Clos de la Chapelle
$65 per bottle ($58.50 per bottle in a mixed case)
(90-93) points Jasper Morris: "East exposure. Pale lemon and lime. Lightly perfumed nose, a cool and chiselled style, with very good length, a lovely almost electric backbone than nicely judged fruit oak balance. A baby Corton-Charlemagne here.
MG - 3 barrels, 1 new. More oily base notes, lees, earthy, some citrus, stone, fruit apple skins. Interesting nose. Leesy and cheesy but in an intersting old-school way, same on finish. (More tension MR) Drier more attenuated and drawn out. Mineral. Memorable. Leaner than previous years but really good."
2018, Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru, Domaine Clos de la Chapelle
$150 per bottle ($135 per bottle in a mixed case)
(92-95) points Jasper Morris: "5 barrels of which two are new, racked back to barrel. Palish colour. Fair weight of fruit to the nose, Plenty of tension here. The wood has added toast more than vanilla. This is much tighter knit than the Pierre Meurgey version. Very good length.
MG - 4 barrels, 2 new. Stone fruit, not particularly intense. Weighty, spicy hot. Sweet, backward. Enigmatic, serious. Very good. Like the style more than 16 or 17.
Like the whites very much this year."
2018, Beaune Les Teurons 1er Cru, Domaine Clos de la Chapelle
$65 per bottle ($58.50 per bottle in a mixed case)
(91-94) points Jasper Morris: "Very old vines here, but for once acceptable yields. 20% whole bunch. Rich dense purple, with a significant quantity of dense energetic fruit on the nose, high class too. This is extremely good, some dark fruit here, but stylish fine pinot. Really excellent!"
MG - 3 1/2 barrels 2 old, one new 350L 25% Whole cluster.- deep color sweet but spicy, oaky. Pleasing extract, certainly showing structure despite high pH? Violet and some lees. (not racked) Hearty ripe fruit, good length. Lots to like about this.
2018, Beaune Champs Pimont 1er Cru, Domaine Clos de la Chapelle
$69 per bottle ($62.10 per bottle in a mixed case)
(89-91) points Jasper Morris: "From 50 year old vines in the upper part of Champs Pimont. Fine bright purple, a little lighter than Teurons. On the palate it is a little leaner, the tannins showing more. A bit nervous today, rather tight, but should emerge well later. This is actually 14% it turns out."
MG - 9 barrels, 3 new. 25% deep color, ripe, oaky dark dark fruit. Still some spice. Kirsch and liqueur notes, leesy, fairly simple, disappointing length, all destemmed.
2018, Volnay En Carelle 1er Cru, Domaine Clos de la Chapelle
$89 per bottle ($80.10 per bottle in a mixed case)
(89-92) points Jasper Morris: "30% whole bunch vinification this year, whereas this is usually all destemmed. Dense purple, the nose doesn’t show the whole bunch unless to lift the super ripe fruit. Firm tannins behind for Volnay but considerable fruit weight alongside."
MG - 5 barrels, one new. Color uniform with others, deep center toward purple. Warm but extra dimension, with floral note. Nice. A little grippy, acid seems fine good length. V Nice. Like this.
2018, Volnay Clos de la Chapelle Monopole 1er Cru, Domaine Clos de la Chapelle
$109 per bottle ($98.10 per bottle in a mixed case)
(93-95) points Jasper Morris: "5 Star Wine View all 5 Star Wines
All destemmed. Only 30 hl/ha. Bright purple with a fresh lighter rim. The Clos de la Chapelle offers a complex bouquet, a little bit of spice and mocha with fully ripe red fruit notes, dark raspberry, fills the mouth while retaining a central core which is fresh and more restrained. Mineral tones at the finish. Long very complete."
MG - 13.3% 8 barrels, 2 new. No whole cluster. A little darker, maybe more variation in color. sweet, anise and floral. Elegant (for the vintage?) Good weight balance and finish. Sweet dark fruits. Very good.
2018, Volnay Taillepieds 1er Cru, Domaine Clos de la Chapelle
$95 per bottle ($85.5 per bottle in a mixed case)
(92-94) points Jasper Morris: "They have half a hectare but 0.30 grubbed up. The remaining 80 year old vines are producing really well still though, 4 barrels from 5 ouvrées. Gorgeous vibrant purple. This is wonderfully dense on the palate yet racy too, with a sweet ripe dark fruit at the finish. Not quite the complete wine of their Clos de la Chapelle but the latter is exceptional."
MG - all old vines 60+ 3 barrels, one new. Dark saturated color with blue/purple in there. Meaty and more enigmatic nose. Good dimension, acid to the fore, serious, finishes with real grip and substance. Really good length. Very good.
2018, Pommard Les Chanlins VV 1er Cru, Domaine Clos de la Chapelle
$99 per bottle ($89.10 per bottle in a mixed case)
(90-93) points Jasper Morris: "Pretty medium pink-purple, with quite a stylish bouquet. This is not a deeply muscular Pommard, but with a concentration of pure red fruit which is most attractive."
MG - 100yo vines or close to it. 5 barrels, 1 new. Paler, more ruby. (La Grande Dame - MR) candied lighter, less overt and less intense. Perhaps elegant but certainly quiet. Ripe pinot on palate, spice and good dimension, or complexity, at least. Good. Less substantial than Taillepieds.
2018, Pommard Grands Epenots 1er Cru, Domaine Clos de la Chapelle
$105 per bottle ($94.50 per bottle in a mixed case)
(91-94) points Jasper Morris: "Deep vibrant purple colour here, really lively and with energy too. Quite a mouthful with a glossy deep raspberry fruit and some fresh minerals at the back, with a particularly long finish. Huge energy with excellent acidity, there is always good pH here, apparently."
MG - 4 barrels, 1 new. Dark, fairly uniform color. Meaty deep and dark. Spicy, almost menthol. Serious, rich, firm, good acid, some oak, decent length. Some rusticity but not to a fault, just as it should be. Grip on finish. Very good.
2018, Corton Bressandes Grand Cru, Domaine Clos de la Chapelle
$119 per bottle ($107.10 per bottle in a mixed case)
(92-95) points Jasper Morris: "Only 2 barrels (one new) now they have tamed the vineyards. Rich imperial purple. The oak marks the wine a bit at the moment but this will be useful because there is such a wealth of sumptuous dark fruit, even some blackberry, though it doesn’t seem over-ripe to me. This was picked quite early and certainly has a fresher finish. Excellent stuffing."
MG- 2 barrels, 1 new. mid color, nice variation. sweet kirschand oak shows (at 50%) Sweet round fruit, good acid, leesy mid-palate elegant structured finish of good length. Very good, but maybe no more special than the VCC, Tailepieds and perhaps PGE? – Great line up this year.
Library Offer Direct from the Domaine
Half Bottles - Arriving April/May