Today marks the official launch of my book The Original Grands Crus of Burgundy on Amazon.com. Some readers may wonder if they really need yet another book on Burgundy on their bookshelf. My posts over the next few days will highlight discussions found in my book which I hope will intrigue you, surprise you, and ultimately add to your drinking pleasure.
Clos de la Perrière
Clos de la Perrière was founded by Cistercian monks in 1142 AD. It is an imposing site at the crest of a hill in the part of Fixin that borders Brochon. It is no exaggeration to suggest that historically the wines of this Clos were viewed as nearly the equal of Chambertin and the Clos de Bèze. The monks exploited the site for just less than 500 years, selling in 1622 to a M. Bouiller from Dijon. The property changed hands several times until it was purchased in 1853 by the Joliet family, who are still the proprietors today.
Clos de La Perrière is commonly cited as an estate of 5 hectares (ha). Technically, there are 4 ha, 90 ares (a) and 31 centiares (ca) in the lieu dit of La Perrière and 17 a 42 ca at the very top of the hill in the lieu dit of En Suchot. Finally, there is also 1 ha 62 a 33 ca in neighboring Brochon that can be sold as Clos de la Perrière following a ruling in 1979, which included that portion of the neighboring vineyard (lieu dit Queue de Hareng, or the Herring’s Tail) which are between La Perrière and the road. Of this, however, just over 5 ha are planted to vines, including a small percentage of white grapes.
It is certainly the case that the current AC regulations do not give Clos de la Perrière its due. While the property has known its ups and downs, today the wines are better than they have been in many years. Under the direction of Bénigne Joliet quality has been restored to its ancient lustre – the vines are worked according to organic principles (but are not certified), yields have been greatly reduced, and vinification is being carried out with the greatest care. A tasting of the 2010 and 2012 at the domaine this past summer were a revelation: dense, lush plum and cassis fruit with mineral and spice, a suggestion of earth, and above all a depth and density on the palate that were extraordinary.
What was the opinion of the authors of previous generations? André Jullien, in his 1815 work Topographie de Tous les Vignobles Connus ranked Clos de la Perrière alongside his top category, noting, however, that it was even then not well known :
“Independent of the wines of which I have just spoken [i.e. along with Romanée-Conti, Chambertin, Richebourg, Clos Vougeot, Romanée-Saint-Vivant, La Tâche and Les Saint-Georges] there are in several less celebrated districts privileged slopes whose wines approach the quality of those I cite. These [include]…Perrière in Fixin, in the district of Gevrey.]
Dr. Lavalle in his 1855 work Histoire et Statistique de la Vigne et des Grands Vins de la Côte d’Or is even more explicit in his praise:
“The wines of the Clos de la Perrière have been classed for many years among the finest of Burgundy. The characteristics that distinguish them are that they are deeply colored, generous, and that they have the virtue of keeping longer than any of the great wines of Gevrey-Chambertin, and a bouquet that typifies the charm of the wines of Burgundy and places them at the head of the entire world.”
There are several mysteries surrounding the Clos de la Perrière. The first is surely how One of the curiosities is that a parcel of this size has never been subdivided – it still exists as one 5 ha parcel under a sole proprietorship. Second mystery: how has it been overlooked for so many years? The final mystery is this: where can we buy some? The Wine-Searcher pro version average price globally across all vintages is a derisory US$66, although American drinkers will have to spend a bit more: the average in the U.S. is $93, and richly worth every bit of it.
Get the book here to find out more little known facts about Burgundy that can enhance your drinking pleasure: http://www.amazon.com/Mr.-Charles-Curtis-MW/e/B00OZR598M