2016 Corton-Charlemagne, Grand Cru, Camille Giroud, Burgundy
About this WINE
Maison Camille Giroud
At Maison Camille Giroud, a diversity of terroir allows for delicious variety. From perfumed, plush reds to perfumed whites; their precise wines are made from plots all across the famed Côte d’Or – what unites each parcel is a signature precision and character.
Founded in 1865, Maison Camille Giroud began as a specialist négociant. They had a few hectares of their own vines, but the vast majority of their wines were purchased from top-ranked growers across the region. They’d then age these wines in their cellars until they reached peak maturity; sometimes decades later.
In 2001, Giroud was purchased by a consortium, counting Napa Valley winery owner Ann Colgin and a number of wine investors as members. They wished to retain the distinctive business model of the maison as well as developing their terroir-driven approach with new, modern techniques. They brought in young winemaker David Croix and undertook a major revamping of the winery.
Many new techniques were introduced, including a wooden press for the red wines, open wooden vats for fermentation, subtle use of oak and minimal racking. David's legacy of innovation was succeeded in 2016 by Carel Voorhuis, who is crafting similarly pure, seductive and terroir-driven wines; and is continuing to manage the valuable cellar.
During the tenure of winemaker David Croix, all wines were made from purchased grapes, with the exception of three cuvées: Beaune Les Avaux and Aux Cras, and Hautes-Côtes de Beaune Au Crêtot. Most of the grapes purchased come from old vines – up to 90 years old in some cases – and all come from producers with whom the maison has longstanding personal relationships.
All grapes are sorted twice. Reds are partially or fully de-stemmed depending on the vintage, and vinified in stainless steel. Whites are vinified in 228- to 600-litre casks; the choice of barrels for ageing is carefully matched to the appellation, and only 15-30% of maturation involves new oak. All wines are fermented with natural yeasts, bottled without fining and with only coarse filtration.
These two Grand Cru vineyards, Corton and Corton-Charlemagne, lie astride three villages at the northern end of the Côte de Beaune: Ladoix, Aloxe-Corton and Pernand-Vergelesses. The main body of the hill of Corton faces due south, with an extended flank exposed to the east, and another facing westwards. The white wines mostly come from west and south-west expositions, along with a narrow band around the top of the hill.The Emperor Charlemagne owned vines here in the eighth century, and legend has it that his wife insisted he planted white grapes so as not to spill red wine down his beard and clothes. Corton-Charlemagne is always white and there is also a theoretical Grand Cru appellation called, simply, Charlemagne, which is never used. Corton is almost entirely red but there are a few white wines too.
Ladoix is a rarely-seen appellation, as most wine here are sold as Côte de Beaune Villages. Aloxe-Corton is better-known, but as with Ladoix the best vineyards have been designated as Corton and Corton-Charlemagne.
There are also 25 lieux-dits that may be used on wine labels, together with Corton: Les Bressandes, Les Chaumes, Clos des Meix, Clos du Roi, Les Combes, Le Corton, Les Fiètres, Les Grèves, Les Manguettes, Les Maréchaudes, Le Meix Lallemand, Les Paulands, Les Perrières, Les Pougets (Pougeots), Les Renardes, La Vigne au Saint, Les Basses Mourottes, Les Carrières, Clos des Cortons Faiveley, Les Grandes Lolières, Le Rognet et Corton, La Toppe au Vert and Les Vergennes.
- 90 hectares of village Aloxe-Corton
- 38 hectares of Premier Cru Aloxe-Corton
- 118 hectares of village Ladoix
- 14 hectares of Premier Cru Ladoix
- 72 hectares of Corton-Charlemagne. The finest from En Charlemagne (Pernand) and Le Charlemagne (Aloxe)
- 160 hectares of Corton. The best from Clos du Roi, Bressandes, Pougets
Chardonnay is the "Big Daddy" of white wine grapes and one of the most widely planted in the world. It is suited to a wide variety of soils, though it excels in soils with a high limestone content as found in Champagne, Chablis, and the Côte D`Or.
Burgundy is Chardonnay's spiritual home and the best White Burgundies are dry, rich, honeyed wines with marvellous poise, elegance and balance. They are unquestionably the finest dry white wines in the world. Chardonnay plays a crucial role in the Champagne blend, providing structure and finesse, and is the sole grape in Blanc de Blancs.
It is quantitatively important in California and Australia, is widely planted in Chile and South Africa, and is the second most widely planted grape in New Zealand. In warm climates Chardonnay has a tendency to develop very high sugar levels during the final stages of ripening and this can occur at the expense of acidity. Late picking is a common problem and can result in blowsy and flabby wines that lack structure and definition.
Recently in the New World, we have seen a move towards more elegant, better- balanced and less oak-driven Chardonnays, and this is to be welcomed.
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This year, this is a blend of Le Corton, facing Ladoix to the southeast, and Les Languettes, which looks south towards Aloxe-Corton. With one-third new oak, this represents a benchmark style of Corton-Charlemagne; there is ample weight and the initial punch of apricot fruit one looks for, before a spine-tingling thread of lime and chalky freshness kicks in on the finish. Delicious. Drink 2023-2030.
Adam Bruntlett, Burgundy Buyer
In January 2002 Maison Camille Giroud was bought by an American consortium led by banker Joe Wender and winery-owner Ann Colgin, and a new chapter began. David Croix was installed as the winemaker/ technical director and tasked with a major revamping of the winemaking facilities and especially replacement and renewal of the old barrels to make wines in a much purer, more modern style. The company also owns 1.2 hectares of vineyards in and around Beaune. The 2016 vintage was a collaborative effort between the outgoing David Croix and his replacement, Carel Voorhuis, formerly of Domaine d’Ardhuy. The transition is a smooth one, with Carel’s gentle touch following on seamlessly from David’s elegant style. Carel described the 2016 vintage as lighter than 2015, with more elegance and better balance. It is clear he has a preference for 2016, highlighting the expressive, aromatic characteristics of the wines and calling them “ethereal”. He explained that it was important to avoid over-ripeness by picking in good time, and emphasised the value of gentle extraction to prevent obtaining hard tannins.
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