"The Superb 2017 Vintage from Volnay's Newest Superstar: Domaine Clos de la Chapelle" - John Gilman, "A View From the Cellar"
Mark O'Connell has been making outstanding wines here since the debut vintage of 2010, and I have been a fan since those very first releases, but it seems quite clear to me that the 2017s are the finest wines yet from this young domaine. There is a precision, transparency, and purity to the fruit tones in the 2017s that is a small, but significant, step up from what has come before at Domaine Clos de la Chapelle, and it seems pretty clear that the 2017 vintage marks the start of a new and exciting chapter for this outstanding property. With new cellars in Bligny-lès-Beaune and the adequate space to work easily in the cellars, these 2017s seem to be a perfect reflection of what Mark seems to value most in red and white Burgundy. He is starting to really match the finished wines to his vision for all the beautiful potential that is old vines, great terroirs, and a top-flight vintage in the Côte de Beaune. His patience has been well-rewarded, as the last decade in Volnay in particular, and in much of the Côte de Beaune, has been a challenge worthy of even the patience of Job, with so many hail-affected vintages and the brutally short, frosted crop of 2016. Finally, the stars have aligned in 2017, and we can really see what the Domaine Clos de la Chapelle is all about. And, it is all good, very, very good!
2017 Beaune 1er cru "Les Teurons": These sixty-plus year-old vines in Teurons have turned out a beautiful bottle in 2017. Readers may recall that this has more limestone in its soils than neighboring Champs Pimont (where there is more clay) and so the wine usually shows a bit more high-toned perfume as a result. The nose on the 2017 is excellent, wafting from the glass in a complex blend of cherries, red plums, gamebird, a beautiful base of chalky soil tones, a dollop of fresh thyme, violets, roses, and a bit of cedary wood. On the palate, the wine is full-bodied, focused, and beautifully transparent, with a fine core of fruit, tangy acids, fine-grained tannins, and a long, soil-driven, and beautifully complex finish. This is first class Beaune! 2025-2075. 92+ pts
2017 Volnay 1er cru "En Carelle": The domaine's vines in range from these fifty-five to sixty years of age in en Carelle Sous la Chapelle, and they have produced a lovely wine in the superb 2017 vintage. The bouquet is already quite complex but still nicely youthful and reserved at the same time, offering up a constellation of black cherries, sweet dark berries, a bit of red plum, bitter chocolate, a lovely and quite complex base of dark soil tones, wood smoke, pigeon, a hint of mustard seed, and other fresh herb tones and a delicate framing of cedar. On the palate, the wine is deep, full-bodied, soil-driven, and very well-balanced, with a fine core of fruit, moderate, well-measured tannins, and a long, tangy, and complex finish. This is very Volnay and will age long and gracefully but should start to offer up plenty of generosity starting around its tenth birthday. Impressive! 2027-2080+. 92 pts
2017 Volnay 1er cru "Clos de la Chapelle" monopole: The Clos de la Chapelle monopole has quickly become one of Volnay's most elegant bottlings, and the 2017 vintage is one of my absolute favorite vintages so far from Mark's flagship terroir. The nose here is beautifully complex and transparent right out of the blocks, offering a very refined blend of plums, red and black cherries, raw cocoa, gamebird, a touch of fresh nutmeg, beautifully complex and understated fresh herb tones, a gorgeous base of chalky minerality, gentle smokiness, and a discreet framing of cedary oak. On the palate, the wine is pure, full-bodied, nascently complex, and absolutely defined by its soil element, with a lovely core of fruit, ripe, seamless tannins, good acids, and outstanding length and grip on the youthful and very, very promising finish. I have adored this bottling since the very first vintage, but it seems to me that the 2017 has taken the level of complexity and transparency here up another level, though the wine is qualitatively still about the same as it has been since its debut vintage of 2010. It is just finer, more transparent and ultimately just a hair more pleasing to an old Burgundy hand like me this year! This will be approachable in another six or seven years, due to its exquisite balance, but I would try to not touch a bottle for at least a decade, as this wine is built a little bit along the lines of one of Frédéric Lafarge's top Volnays, and it is going to be so much better to drink at age twenty or thirty than it will be at age seven or eight! 2030-2085+. 94+ pts
2017 Volnay 1er cru "Taillepieds": The beautiful 2017 Taillepieds is an absolutely textbook example of this great terroir, as one might expect in a great vintage and sixty-five-plus year-old vines tucked in between d'Angerville and de Montille in the heart and soul of the vineyard. The stunning nose soars from the glass in a nascently complex blend of sweet black cherries and plums, dark chocolate, fresh nutmeg and other delicate spice tones, dark soil tones, gamebird, woodsmoke, and a bit of vanillin oak. With extended aeration there is a touch of Bonnes-Mareslike heather tones as well here, which is utterly gorgeous. On the palate, the wine is deep, full, focused, and properly structured, with a beautiful core of fruit, great soil signature, ripe, well-integrated tannins, and a long, tangy, and perfectly balanced finish. Great juice. 2030-2090. 94+ pts
2017 Pommard 1er cru "Les Chanlins" vieilles vignes: The domaine's vines here in les Chanlins are closing in on ninety years of age and they have produced a very elegant and soil-driven example of Pommard this year- albeit with all of the depth and structural integrity one expects from the very best wines from this commune. The bouquet is precise, red fruity and youthful, offering up scents of cherries, sweet quince, beautifully complex soil tones, raw cocoa, a bit of bonfire, pigeon, a touch of mustard seed, and a very discreet foundation of cedary oak. On the palate, the wine is full-bodied, transparent and beautifully generous at the core, with ripe, seamless tannins, excellent focus and grip, bright acids, and a long, complex and very promising finish. All this beautiful wine needs is some time in the cellar to properly blossom. 2030-2085. 94 pts
2017 Pommard 1er cru "Grands Epenots": The 2017 Grands Epenots bottling from Clos de la Chapelle is a bit more youthfully plush on the attack than the excellent Chanlins this year, but this too is a superb Pommard that is going to be make very old bones! The bouquet is more black fruity than the Chanlins, wafting from the glass in a very promising constellation of black plums, sweet dark berries, woodsmoke, bitter chocolate, gamebird, a touch of currant leaf, a great base of dark soil tones, gentle spice tones, a hint of violet and a judicious framing of vanillin oak. On the palate, the wine is full-bodied, focused and shows off both excellent soil signature and mid-palate depth of fruit, with ripe, fine-grained tannins, excellent balance, and a long, nascently complex and beautifully focused finish. Great juice. 2030-2090. 94+ pts
2017 Corton "Bressandes" Grand Cru: The Bressandes from Domaine Clos de la Chapelle is now the sole red Grand Cru in the estate's lineup, as Maison Champy has received custody of the Corton "Rognet" as part of the divorce settlement. However, if the superb 2017 vintage is any indication, this is a crown that the Bressandes will have no difficulty wearing in the coming years. The bouquet is very precise and expressive, offering up a youthful blend of cherries, red currants, a touch of orange zest, spit-roasted gamebird, a beautiful base of soil tones, coriander seed, mustard seed, woodsmoke, a hint of cocoa powder, other gentle spice tones, and a lovely foundation of vanillin oak. On the palate, the wine is deep, full-bodied, focused and impeccably balanced, with a great core of fruit, Corton's signature transparency, ripe, buried tannins and a long, tangy and nascently complex finish. I do so love red Corton when it is made at this high level! 2032-2100. 95+ pts
2017 Beaune 1er cru "Reversées" Blanc : The 2017 Beaune "Reversées" Blanc from Clos de la Chapelle is a beautifully precise and esthery example of the vintage, offering up the kind of early appeal that are going to make legions of fans for this wine right from release, but with the structure to also age very nicely. The bouquet is totally enticing, wafting from the glass in a lovely blend of pear, apple, bee pollen, gently musky spring flowers, chalky soil tones and a discreet base of vanillin oak. On the palate the wine is crisp and full-bodied, with fine focus and grip, an excellent core, good soil signature and lovely, bouncy acids that lend lift and brightness, without standing in the way of early complexity and enjoyment. A lovely example of the vintage. 2019-2040. 90+ pts
2017 Pernand-Vergelesses 1er cru "Sous Frétille": The fine Sous Frétille vineyard is one of the ultimate "insider terroirs" in the realm of white Burgundy, as this very well-situated vineyard lies at the base of the hill of Corton and is often referred to as the "Baby Corton-Charlemagne". The 2017 Sous Frétille from Clos de la Chapelle is a very fine expression of this lovely terroir, offering up a complex bouquet of delicious apple, pear, a touch of crème patissière, beautiful, chalky soil tones, a judicious framing of vanillin oak and a topnote of lemon blossoms. On the palate the wine is crisp, complex and full-bodied, with a lovely core, excellent mineral drive, bright acids and a long, youthful and very promising finish. This gently reductive in a very good way that augurs well for its future development. First class white Burgundy! 2019-2050. 92 pts
2017 Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru: The 2017 Corton-Charlemagne from Domaine Clos de la Chapelle is an excellent wine and a classic example of this great grand cru. The youthfully complex nose wafts from the glass in a refined blend of apple, pear, a touch of iodine, limestone minerality, white flowers, a hint of fresh almond and a lovely foundation of vanillin oak. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and nascently complex, with an excellent core of fruit, lovely backend mineral drive, bright, zesty acids and outstanding focus and balance on the long and utterly classic finish. This is not an overly muscular example of Corton-Charlemagne, but rather a wine of excellent depth and intensity of flavor that will deliver a very complex and elegant interpretation of this great terroir in the fullness of time. A quintessential example of Pernand-side Corton Charlie! 2022-2060. 95 pts