About this WINE
There are certain vineyard sites up and down the Côte d’Or in Burgundy which have been recognised for centuries as being outstanding locations. The monks were usually the first to spot the potential and to stake a claim. One such is the Clos de la Perrière in Fixin, just north of Gevrey-Chambertin, founded by the monks of Cîteaux in the early 12th century.
The Joliet family purchased the Manoir de la Perrière and its attendant vines in 1853. Bénigne, who has bought out other family members so as to be able to run the domaine as he wants to do it, is the 6th generation of the family. He has moved towards organic farming in the vineyards, reduced yields and developed a style of vinification and barrel maturation to suit this vineyard. From the 2009 vintage the wines are aged for 24 months in barrels, half one year old and half two year old.
Various early wine authorities in the 19th century singled out Clos de la Perrière as an exceptional vineyard, Dr Lavalle (1855) noting it as a Tête de Cuvée making wines which kept for longer than any others of the Côte d’Or. Though attempts to have it classified as Perrière-Chambertin in the 1930s failed, Bénigne is about to start work on a dossier to propose Clos de la Perrière as a grand cru now.
Up to 10,000 bottles are made each vintage, with young vines being declassified into village Fixin. There is a small amount of white made as well from the coolest part of the vineyard.
Fixin is a wine appellation in the Burgundy region of France covering the communes of Brochon and Fixin – which was first elevated to AOC status in December 1936. White wines can be made from either Chardonnay or Pinot Blanc (Pinot Gris used to be permitted, but this grape variety was removed in 2011).
Red wines are sturdy and muscular, made principally from Pinot Noir, but they can have small quantities of the three white grapes in them. Situated just north of Gevrey-Chambertin, the red wines are often likened to miniature Gevreys.
- 108 hectares of village Fixin
- 22 hectares of Premier Cru vineyards (five in all). The best include Clos Napoléon, Clos de la Perrière
Pinot Noir is probably the most frustrating, and at times infuriating, wine grape in the world. However when it is successful, it can produce some of the most sublime wines known to man. This thin-skinned grape which grows in small, tight bunches performs well on well-drained, deepish limestone based subsoils as are found on Burgundy's Côte d'Or.
Pinot Noir is more susceptible than other varieties to over cropping - concentration and varietal character disappear rapidly if yields are excessive and yields as little as 25hl/ha are the norm for some climats of the Côte d`Or.
Because of the thinness of the skins, Pinot Noir wines are lighter in colour, body and tannins. However the best wines have grip, complexity and an intensity of fruit seldom found in wine from other grapes. Young Pinot Noir can smell almost sweet, redolent with freshly crushed raspberries, cherries and redcurrants. When mature, the best wines develop a sensuous, silky mouth feel with the fruit flavours deepening and gamey "sous-bois" nuances emerging.
The best examples are still found in Burgundy, although Pinot Noir`s key role in Champagne should not be forgotten. It is grown throughout the world with notable success in the Carneros and Russian River Valley districts of California, and the Martinborough and Central Otago regions of New Zealand.
Neal Martin - 27/02/2014