- Posted by Terroir Selections
- On November 22, 2013
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The following article comes from the Australian Wine Companion Website:http://www.winecompanion.com.au/news/news-articles/2013/november/chanson…
Family ties: Chanson Père et Fils
Publish Date: 07 Nov 2013
Authored by: James Halliday
Burgundy has more domaines and maisons with similar family-named owners than any other region on earth. Napoleonic laws of inheritance prescribing that all children should be equally entitled to a share of a deceased parents estate, not only led to parcels of of vineyards becoming ever smaller, but owned by cousins, brothers, sisters, grandchildren carrying their patronym, complicated yet further by marriage with other extended Burgundy families.
But what about the following businesses and people: Bollinger, Domaine de Courcel, Jean-Pierre Confuron, Gilles de Courcel, Yves Confuron, Jean-Jacques Confuron and Domaine Confuron Cotetidot: how do these intersect? Well, first up, you have to understand that there are two branches of the Confuron family, one established by Jean Confuron (1904-1965) whose son Jean-Jacques (1929-1983) established the Domaine which bears his name. Another son of Jean, Christian, set up in Vougeot, where his son in turn is now in charge.
The other branch stems from Joseph Confuron (b. 1907), who married Simone Jayer, first cousin of the legendary superstar of Burgundy, Henri Jayer. Joseph and Simone had three sons, Serge, Gerard and Jack, the last (nick-named Jacky) marrying Bernadette Cotetidot and establishing Domaine Confuron-Cotetidot. Their children (and hence brothers), Yves and Jean-Pierre Confuron, run Domaine Confuron-Cotetidot, though owned by their parents. Even this ignores five prior generations of Confurons living in or around Vosne-Romanée.
Gilles de Courcel is the owner of Pommard’s Domaine de Courcel. Yves Confuron manages Domaine de Courcel, while brother Jean-Pierre is in charge of winemaking at Chanson. Thus each brother has a dual role in Confuron-Cotetidot, plus Domaine de Courcel and Chanson Père et Fils respectively. If you’ve lost the plot, grab a glass of Burgundy and contemplate the world passing by.
Bollinger now enters the scene, which acquired Chanson Père et Fils in 1999, and appointed Gilles de Courcel to run the business in 2002, and who appointed Jean-Pierre as winemaker.
Chanson Père et Fils is one of the oldest of Beaune’s great negociant houses, founded in 1750. But by the time Bollinger acquired it, it was in desperate need of new management and new money. Issues with some of the Chanson stock became a cause célèbre at the time, but that is now well and truly in the past. Chanson had substantial vineyard holdings focused primarily on Beaune when acquired by Bollinger, but this was increased to 45 hectares with some astute purchases in 2006. Substantial though that vineyard holding is, it only accounts for 20% to 25% of all of the Chanson wines, but it is the estate-based and domaine-made wines that come to Australia and are distributed by Xavier Bizot of Terroir Selections (www.terroir-selections.com.au).
I tasted five of the white wines and five of the red wines the other day with Gilles de Courcel and Xavier Bizot. The white wines have a strong family connection, even though the communes are widely spread. To a lesser or greater degree they have a bracing minerality on the back-palate and finish.
The wines tasted were:
Viré-Clessé 2011 ($25)
A new appellation created in 1998, formerly simply forming part of the Mâcon appellation. The wine is fermented in stainless steel, and sees no oak. Twelve growers provide the grapes, and it is elegant and fresh, well made, and with more flesh than one might expect.
Pernand Vergelesses 1er Cru les Caradeaux 2011 ($72)
The 2-hectare vineyard is slow-ripening, and invests the wine with a strong structure, flavours of grapefruit, and, above all else, racy minerality that drives the wine through to its long finish. 20% new oak, and bottled in October ‘12. This is the best value of all of the white wines, giving you Corton Charlemagne (which Pernand Vergelesses abuts) for half the price.
Beaune 1er Cru Clos des Mouches Blanc 2011 ($117)
Chanson has 4.5 hectares of the Clos des Mouches appellation, half planted to pinot noir, half to chardonnay. Once again 20% new oak, the remainder 2- to 4-year-old barrels. (Once they become 5 years old, many make their way to Bollinger.) Yellow-gold colour, it is rich and biscuity, with good length and pronounced balancing acidity.
Chassagne Montrachet 1er Cru les Chenevottes 2011 ($137)
Chanson owns 1.9 hectares out of a total of 8 hectares, the vineyard abutting Montrachet. Deep gold in colour, it has white peach fruit with a spray of citrus and mineral notes giving it energy and length.
Corton Vergennes Grand Cru 2011 ($215)
The 0.6-hectare vineyard is owned by members of the Chanson family, but is used by the Domaine under a fermage arrangement (leased, the payment set in advance, independent of the yield/quality). It is very intense, precise and focused, and has an exceptionally long finish. Second only to the Pernand Vergelesses on a value for money basis.
Savigny-les-Beaune 1er Cru Dominode 2009 ($63)
100% whole bunch fermented in open vats with pigeage. Light, clear red-purple, it has cherry and plum fruit, good tannins and good length. There aren’t many ‘09s left these days, and the price is very appealing.
Pernand Vergelesse 1er Cru les Vergelesses 2010 ($69)
All of the red wines are managed with two sorting tables and 20 people running those tables. Also, as with all the reds, it is whole bunch fermented, and has great colour. The fragrant bouquet moves into a very complex palate, with red fruits to the fore. This is a marvelous wine at the price, and, once again, the ‘10s (which have built up a formidable and deserved reputation as a classic vintage) have largely disappeared from Australian retail shelves. This shipment, however, has only just arrived, so the wine will be available for some time to come. For stockists contact Terroir Selections (www.terroir-selections.com.au).
Beaune 1er Cru Clos des Mouches Rouge 2010 ($118)
Given that the wine is whole bunch fermented, which always invests the palate with distinctive tannins, this wine is supple and smooth in that context. The fruits are darker, and certainly carry the counter-thrust of the tannins.
Charmes Chambertin Grand Cru 2010 ($289)
Here the vineyard is not owned by Chanson, the grapes purchased from the same grower for over 10 years, producing 6 to 7 barrels on average (132 to 154 dozen bottles). The grapes, however, are hand-picked by the Chanson team, and while sorting tables are still used, care is taken not to pick damaged fruit. The wine is all that one expects from this Grand Cru, silky and supple, with wonderful length and balance.
Chambertin Clos de Bèze Grand Cru 2010 ($349)
Here there are only 4 barrels (88 dozen bottles) made. There is another dimension of power to what is a superb wine, with layers of dark berry/black cherry and plum, the tannins folded into the fruit, the new oak likewise.