Saturday, February 21, 2015

France Unit 4 - Chablis, Côte Chalonnaise, Mâconnais and Grand Auxerrois

The following are my notes for studying the wines of the Chablis, Côte Chalonnaise, Mâconnais, the Grand Auxerrois and the Châtillonnais regions of France. I covered the history of Bourgogne in my last post so in these notes I’ll only provide information about the topography, climate, soils, important red and white grapes and the AOCs of the regions. I also include notes on the wines tasted during in the French Wine Scholar class (FWS – 03b Chablis, Côte Chalonnaise & Mâconnais).

Geography of Chablis, Châtillonnais and Grand Auxerrois
Chablis is 10 miles (16 km) east of Auxerre in the Yonne department, located in Burgundy's heartland about halfway between Côte d'Or and Paris. It is closer to the southern Aube district of Champagne than the rest of Burgundy. It is France’s third most northerly wine-growing area, after Champagne and Alsace. Chablis’ vineyards are located on the slopes of the Serein River Valley. The vineyards of Châtillonnais are southeast of Chablis and the Grand Auxerrois vineyards are located around the towns of Auxerre, Tonnerre, Vézelay and Joigny.
Topography of the Chablis
Whereas the vineyards of the Côte d'Or are planted on a slope, Chablis is predominantly flat. The region covers 15 Km (9.3 miles) by 20 Km (12 miles) across 27 communes.
Climate of the Chablis
Chablis has a continental climate which in influenced by the Atlantic and winds sweep inland along the plains. This lowers the temperatures and slows the ripening process resulting in high acid wines with a lean profile. The maritime influence impacts the weather in the Spring and in the Fall as frost if common at the beginning and end of the growing season.
Soils of Chablis
The Grand Cru and Premier Cru Chablis vineyards of Chablis are on Kimmeridgian marl which is also found in Sancerre in the Loire. It is a type of chalk containing many types of seashells, particularly comma-shaped oysters called Exogyra Virgula. The marly soil develops good water retention and are is easily cultivated.[1] The Chablis AOC and Petit Chablis vineyards are on Portlandian marl, a type of limestone that contains many fossils and fragments but is also cracked by frost. This enables aeration of the slopes as well as aiding in drainage.
The Viticulture and Viniculture of the Chablis
The primary concern for Chablis is frost damage during the springtime, from March to early May, which is counteracted with as smudge pots which provides heat and aspersion irrigation which creates an igloo over the vines and protects it from temperatures below 32 °F (0 °C).[2] Chaptalization is common but in recent years there have riper vintages producing grapes with higher sugar levels that have diminished the need to do so. Historically Chablis was aged in neutral wooden feuillette barrels that hold 35 gallons (132 liters) but maintaining proper hygiene was a challenge. The stainless steel fermentation tanks were introduced which also added the benefit of being able to control temperatures. Now there are winemakers who are introducing newer oak and creating a more “new world” style. But, the traditional style of Chablis that expresses its terroir remains the neutral or non-oaked wines that display the  typicity of the grape and the region’s soil with a flinty minerality.
Key White Grape Varieties of Chablis, Châtillonnais and Grand Auxerrois
Chablis is 100% white wine, Grand Auxerrois is 67% white / 33% red wine and Châtillonnais is 95% white / 5% red wine.
(Chablis is 100%)
Sauvignon Blanc
(St. Bris AOC)
(Used in Crémant de Bourgogne)
(Used in Crémant de Bourgogne)
Key Red Grape Varieties of Châtillonnais and Grand Auxerrois
Pinot Noir
(Blended w/Pinot Noir in Irancy AOC)
The AOCs of Chablis
Chablis Grand Cru
There are 7 climats located on one slope sharing a single hillside which are as follows:
(1) Bourgros
(2) Les Clos
(3) Grenouilles
(4) Blanchot
(5) Les Presues
(6) Valmur
(7) Vaudésir
Chablis Premier Cru
There are 40 Premier Cru with 89 climats (vineyards), 17 of the larger ones may appear on the label.[3] These are all along both banks of the Serein River all of which are located on slopes. The top premier crus on the right bank include Montée de Tonnerre and Fourchaume. The top premier crus on the left bank are Vaillons and Montmains.[4]
Chablis AOC
Some Chablis AOC are located on the plains and some are on slopes.
Petit Chablis AOC
Established in 1944. Most Petit Chablis vineyards are located on the higher portions of the winegrowing slopes or the edge of the plateau on either side of the Serein River. The soils are brown and derived from hard limestone with patches of sandy silts.
The AOCs of Grand Auxerrois
Irancy AOC
Established as an AOC in 1999. The principle grape is Pinot Noir, which is sometimes blended with up to 10% César.
Saint Bris AOC
Established as an AOC in 2003. It is located around the village Saint-Bris-le-Vineux in the Yonne department. The principle grapes are Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Gris. It has 5 communes: Chitry, Irancy, Quenne, Saint-Bris-le-Vineux, Vincelottes  
Bourgogne Cotes d’Auxerre AOC
In 1993, wines from the communes of Auxerre, Vaux, Champs-sur-Yonne, Augy, Quenne, Saint-Bris-le-Vineux and Vincelottes were granted the right to add a local identifier to the regional “Bougogne” appellation. This is a regional AOC that produces red, rosé and white Burgundies.
Bourgogne Coulanges-La-Vinese
The vineyards of Coulanges-la-Vineuse form part of the outer fringes of the Paris basin and overlie limestones of the Upper Jurassic (Portlandian, Kimmeridgian) or in places chalks of the Lower Cretaceous. It is a regional AOC that predominantly produces red Burgundies but it also produces rosé and white Burgundies as well.
Bourgogne Epineuil AOC
A regional AOC that predominantly produces red Burgundies located north-east of Chablis in the sub-region of Tonnerrois.
Bourgogne Tonnerre AOC
A regional AOC that predominantly produces white Burgundies located north-east of Chablis in the sub-region of Tonnerrois.
Bourgogne Vézelay AOC
A regional AOC that predominantly produces white Burgundies located south of Chablis in the sub-region of Vézelien.
The AOCs of Châtillonnais
The vineyards of Châtillonnais are located between the east of Chablis and Dijon planted with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir on limestone soils. The region is produces Regional bottlings but it is known primarily known for Crémant de Bougogne AOC made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir but may also include Aligoté and Sacy.

While Chablis, Châtillonnais and Grand Auxerrois are north of the Côte d'Or (which encompasses Côte d’Nuit and Côte d’Beaune) we now head south of the Côte d'Or to Côte Chalonnaise and Mâconnais.

Geography of Côte Chalonnaise
Côte Chalonnaise is named after the town of Chalon-sur-Saône, it is 25 Km (15.5 miles) and is 7 Km (4.34 miles) wide. It is south of Côte d’Beaune starting from Santenay, north of the Mâconnais east of Couchois and west of the Saône River.
Climate, Topography and Soils of Côte Chalonnaise
The Côte Chalonnaise has a continental climate with limestone and marl soils similar to those in the Côte de Beaune, but the region is not protected from prevailing winds. Consequently, although it is further south than the Côte de Beaune harvest may be delayed. The vineyards are divided amongst various hillsides and communes.
The Viniculture of the Côte Chalonnaise
About 62% of the Côte Chalonnaise production is red wine, most of which is Pinot Noir. They also produce white, rosé and sparkling wine.
The Villages of Côte Chalonnaise
Bouzeron has no premier crus and it known for its Aligoté. The upper portion consists of white marls derived from Oxfordian limestone (the first stage of the Jurassic system). Elsewhere, the slopes consist in part of brown marly soils derived from Bath limestone. The vineyards are planted on steep slopes that have east or south-east exposure on generally thin soil. Bouzeron Village AOC / AOP, is made exclusively with grapes grown in white marly limestone on the upper slopes from gobelet trained vines. The lower slopes planted to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir for wines sold as Bourgogne Côte Chalonnaise AOC / AOP.
Not to be confused with Reuilly near Sancerre. It is home to 23 Premier Crus climats.[5] It is also known for its Crémant de Bourgogne production. Pinot Noir is planted brown or limey soils with a little clay. The best Chardonnay is on clay-limestone soil.
Established in 1923, it is located in the heart of the Côte Chalonnaise (12 kilometers from Chalon-sur-Saône). The region is protected from moisture-bearing winds, tucked away in its hillsides or stretched along the Golden Valley. The vineyards stretch as far as the neighboring village of Saint-Martin-sous-Montaigu. It is home to 30 Premier Crus climats and predominantly produces red wine from Pinot Noir, it is the district's most important appellation.[6]
Not to be confused with Gevrey-Chambertin, it is home to 26 Premier Crus and mostly produces red wine.[7] Most of the vines are planted facing east or south-east or due south at altitudes of 240 - 280 meters (787-918 feet), or slightly higher in the case of Les Bois Chevaux.
Established in 1936 as a combination of four villages: Buxy, Montagny-lès-Buxy, Jully-lès-Buxy and Saint-Vallerin. It is home to 49 Premier Crus that are dedicated to Chardonnay.[8] The vineyards face east and south-east and are planted on Bajocien limestone and marly limestone at altitudes of 250-400 meters (820-1312 feet).
Key White Grape Varieties of Côte Chalonnaise
(Bouzeron AOC)

Pinot Noir

(Coteaux Bourguignons
and Passe-Tout-Grains)

Geography and Topography of Mâconnais
The Mâconnais is south of Côte Chalonnaise, east of the Grosne Valley and west of the Saône River. The Mâconnais wine country is covered with rolling landscapes that alternate with monumental cliffs. The vineyards consist of a 10k (6.21 miles) wide strip of vines 35km (21.75 miles) long, between Sennecey-le-Grand and Saint-Vérand. To the southwest of Tournus, the Monts du Mâconnais are a succession of wooded hilltops and little valleys. The geology is similar to that of the Côte d'Or, but the gentle relief means that that vines are mixed with other forms of farming in most of the area. In the south the land rises up to form Mont de Pouilly and the southern end overlaps slightly with the northern edge of Beaujolais.
Soils of the Mâconnais
The Mâconnais consists of limestone hills covered in the alkaline clay that best suits Chardonnay.
Climate of Mâconnais
The Mâconnais has a continental climate that is influenced by the Mediterranean providing warm summer and mild winters resulting in riper fruit.
The Mâcon Appellations
The Mâcon AOC is the basic appellation that can be used for white, rosé and red wines. The designation Mâcon-Villages is only for white wines. The designation Mâcon + village name (such as Mâcon-Prissé and Mâcon-Milly-Lamartine) is for white Mâcon and many may also produce red and rosé wines.
The Communes of Mâconnais
Established in 1936. Pouilly-Fuissé has clay-limestone and marly-calcareous soils. The wines are made from Chardonnay grapes grown in the communes of Chaintre, Fuisse, Solutre-Pouilly and Vergisson. It currently covers around 2000 acres (800 ha) of hillside vineyards, planted on clay-limestone and marly-calcareous soils over a granitic base. 

The 500m (1640 feet) limestone escarpment known as the Roche de Solutre is at the center of the appellation’s vine-growing area and towers over the vineyards below. The Pouilly-Fuissé title may be accompanied by the name of the vineyard, the most common are: La Roche, Les Vignes Blanches, Aux Chailloux and Les Crays. There is no Premier Cru system within the appellation, so quality is indicated through the reputations of producers and their vineyards.
Pouilly-Loché and Pouilly-Vinzelles
Located east of Pouilly-Fuissé, commercially they benefit from the “Pouilly” name and produce a similar style wine. They have no Premier Cru wines and only produce Chardonnay.
Established in 1971. It is made up of 8 villages: Davayé, Prissé and Solutré-Pouilly in the north, and Chânes, Chasselas, Leynes, Saint-Amour and Saint-Vérand in the south. Saint-Véran has silica clay soil made up of granitic and volcanic bedrock, present where the Mâconnais rocks have eroded. The vineyards are planted entirely to Chardonnay.
Established in 1999 it is located in the northern part of the Mâconnais, north of the town of Mâcon, in the direction of the Côte Chalonnaise. It consists of the communes of Clessé, Laizé, Montbellet and Viré. There are no Premier Cru vineyards within the AOC.
Key White Grape Varieties of Mâconnais
Key Red Grape Varieties of Mâconnais
Pinot Noir
(Only allowed in Mâcon AOC)

Wines Tasted

The following wines were tasted in the French Wine Scholar class:

1. Louis Bouillot Cremant de Bourgogne Rose Brut Perle d’Auror NV

This wine is made from 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Gamay. It is a clear pink wine with minute bubbles. On the nose it is clean with moderate intense aromas of strawberry tart candies, raspberry, rose water, and chalk. On the palate it is dry a little residual sugar, it has high acid, light body and a length finish. An very nice rose sparkling wine that wine sells for only $14.

2. 2012 Domaine Louis Jadot Bouzeron

This wine is made from 100% Aligote as the Bouzeron ONLY allows Bouzeron. It was fermented in stainless steel, 30% oak-aged. It is a clear white wine, lemon in color, day bright with low intensity and moderate viscosity. On the nose it is clean with pronounced aromas of caramelized apples, very ripe melon, with hints of butter and popcorn. On the palate it is dry with medium+ acidity, medium+ bodied with a rich creamy mouth-feel on the mid-palate with a lengthy finish that has a lingering flavor of peach pits. This wine sells for $39.

3. 2011 Robert-Denogent St. Veran “Les Pommards” Vieilles Vignes

From the Maconnaise which is impacted by the Mediterranean. It is a clear white wine, gold in color, with moderate intensity and medium viscosity. On the nose it is clean with medium+ intense aromas of ripe apples, canned pears, peach skins, with white flowers and very intense wet stone. On the palate it is dry with medium+ acidity, it is full bodied with a round mouth-feel with a nutty long finish. This wine sells for $39.

4. 2011 Trenel Pouilly-Fuise Les Tillers

It is a clear white wine, golden in color, star-bright with medium viscosity. On the nose it is clean with medium+ intense aromas of canned pears, red apples, intense cherry blossoms, cinnamon, cardamom, baking spices with a hint of wet stone. On the palate it is dry with medium+ acidity, with a creamy medium body and a long finish. A premium quality wine that sells for $25.

5. 2012 Henri Perrusset Macon-Village

It is a clear white wine, lemon in color, day-bright with medium viscosity. On the nose it is clean with moderate intense aromas of melon rind, beer hops, herbs, wet cement, and white flowers. On the palate it is dry and somewhat tart with high acidity, it is medium bodied and has a medium length finish. This wine sells for $19.

6. 2012 Domaine Simonnet-Febvre Chablis 1er Cru Vaillons

It is a clear white wine, lemon in color, day-bright with medium viscosity. On the nose it is clean subtle aromas of lemon pith, lime, celery stalk, white flowers and chalk. On the palate it is dry with high acidity, medium body with a long mineral driven finish. This wine sells for $29

7. 2012 Domaine Christian Moreau Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos – Clos des Hospices

It is a clear white wine, lemon in color, day-bright with medium viscosity. On the nose it is clean moderate intense aromas of lemon skins, lemon pith, crushed seashells, sea breeze, and slight notes of gun flint and almonds. On the palate it is dry with high acidity, medium body with a long slightly bitter finish. This wine sells for $95.

8. 2011 Domaine Chevillon Bougogne Passetoutgrain

This is a clear red wine, ruby at the core to pink at the rim with moderate intensity and moderate viscosity, On the nose it has moderate intense aromas of cranberries, tart raspberries, with a hint of smoke and subtle notes of Flintstone vitamins and a little sweaty. On the palate it is dry and somewhat tart with medium tannins, medium+ acidity. This wine sells for $26.

[1] James E. Wilson, Terroir (University of California Press, 1998), 245.
[2] Jancis Robinson, The Oxford Companion to Wine (3rd Edition, Oxford University Press, 2006), 148-149.
[3] Jancis Robinson, The Oxford Companion to Wine (3rd Edition, Oxford University Press, 2006), 148-149.
[4] The 17 include: Mont de Milieu, Montée de Tonnerre, Fourchaume, Vaillons, Montmains, Côte de Léchet, Beauroy, Vauligneau, Vaudevey, Vaucoupin, Vosgros, Les Fourneaux, Côte de Vaubarousse, Berdiot. Chaume de Talvat, Côte de Jouan, and Les Beauregards.
[5] Agneux, Champs Cloux, Chapitre, Clos du Chaigne, Clos St Jacques, Cloux, Grésigny, La Bressande, La Fosse, La Pucelle, La Renarde, Le Meix Cadot, Le Meix Caillet, Les Pierres, Margotés, Marissou, Molesme, Montpalais, Pillot, Préaux, Rabourcé, Raclot, and Vauvry.
[6] Clos de Paradis, Clos des Barraults, Clos des grands Voyens, Clos des Myglands, Clos Marcilly, Clos Tonnerre, Clos Voyens, Grand Clos Fortoul, Griffères, La Bondue, La Cailloute, La Chassière, La Levrière, La Mission, Le Clos du Roy, Le Clos l'Evêque, Les Byots, Les Champs Martin, Les Combins, Les Crêts, Les Croichots, Les Fourneaux, Les Montaigus, Les Naugues, Les Puillets, Les Ruelles, Les Saumonts, Les Vasées, Les Velley, Sazenay.
[7] A Vigne Rouge, Champ Nalot, Clos Charlé, Clos de la Baraude, Clos du Cellier aux Moines, Clos du Cras long, Clos du Vernoy, Clos Jus, Clos Marceaux, Clos Marole, Clos Salomon, Clos-Saint-Paul, Clos-Saint-Pierre, Crauzot, Crémillons, En Choué, En Veau, La Brûlée, La Grande Berge, La Matrosse, La Petite Berge, La Plante, Le Champ Lalot, Le Médenchot, Le Paradis, Le Petit Prétan, Le Pied du Clou, Le Vernoy, Le Vigron, Les Bois Chevaux, Les Bois Gautiers, Les Combes, Les Galaffres, Les Grandes Vignes, Les Grands Prétans, Petit Marole, Pied de Chaume, Servoisine.
[8] Champ Toizeau, Chazelle, Cornevent, Creux de Beaux Champs, L'Epaule, La Condemine du Vieux Château, La Grande Pièce, La Moullière, Le Clos Chaudron, Le Cloux, Le Clouzot, Le Vieux Château, Les Bassets, Les Beaux Champs, Les Bonneveaux, Les Bordes, Les Bouchots, Les Burnins, Les Chaniots, Les Chaumelottes, Les Coères, Les Combes, Les Coudrettes, Les Craboulettes, Les Garchères, Les Gouresses, Les Jardins, Les Las, Les Macles, Les Maroques, Les Paquiers, Les Perrières, Les Pidances, Les Platières, Les Resses, Les Treuffères, Les Vignes Derrière, Les Vignes des Prés, Les Vignes longues, Mont Laurent, Montcuchot, Montorge, Saint-Ytages, Sainte-Morille, Sous les Feilles, Vigne du soleil, Vignes Couland, Vignes Saint-Pierre, Vignes sur le Cloux.

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