Chandon de Briailles Pernand-Vergelesses Ile des Vergelesses Premier Cru Blanc 2018
In Remington Norman and Charles Taylor's book, The Great Domaines of Burgundy, Les Vergelesses and Île des Vergelesses are described as top sites in the village of Pernand-Vergelesses, "wines of weight and structure, capable of aging for twenty years or more." Les Vergelesses is just below Île, lower on the slope with more clay and iron. This parcel faces east, like the best vineyards of Corton, and the 1.22 hectare parcel was planted in 1954.
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The 2018 Pernand-Vergelesses 1er Cru Ile de Vergelesses Blanc has picked up considerable additional tension since I tasted it from barrel. Exhibiting notes of pear, waxy citrus rind, white flowers and fresh pastry, it's medium to full-bodied, satiny and incisive, energetic and saline.
At Chandon de Briailles, the vineyard management has been fully biodynamic since 2005 and organic since 1998. Claude's brother, Francois de Nicolay joined the domaine in 2001.
In the cellar, no enological products are used (except for sulfur in very small quantities), no tartaric acid, no exogenous yeasts, no tannin powder, no enzymes, etc. The Chandon de Briailles wines are quite unique in the fact that there is a negligible amount of new oak for aging and most wines are made with a whole-cluster fermentation. The domaine has cut back on its use of whole cluster fermentation since 2011 and adapts vintage to vintage. The Savigny-les-Beaune village is typically de-stemmed and the premier cru and grand cru will have up to 100% whole cluster in a sunny year (with good phenolic maturity). Fermentations start naturally a few days after harvest in open top cement tanks. Aging is carried out in used barrels (up to eight years-old) and the wine are bottled without fining or filtration. Claude likes to describe her wines as having 'no make-up', referring to the lack of new oak.
John Gilman (View From the Cellar) wrote: “This domaine is quickly becoming one of the very finest to be found anywhere in the Côte D’Or...these are great, classically styled, terroir-driven red and white Burgundies that age brilliantly, and are among the treasures to be found in the Côte de Beaune for those adventurous enough to try a few bottles.”
Occupying the most northerly combe (the French term for a valley that cuts through a hillside) of the Côte de Beaune, Pernand-Vergelles sits to the west of and behind the hill of Corton. The most sought after whites of the village come from the slope of Pernand on the side of Corton where Pernand-Vergelles shares the Grand Cru Corton-Charlemagne with Aloxe-Corton. The best red producing Cru is Les Vergelles, which overlaps into Savigny-les-Beaune. Reds here are fleshy, seductive and structured while whites are both lively and age worthy.
One of the most popular and versatile white wine grapes, Chardonnay offers a wide range of flavors and styles depending on where it is grown and how it is made. While it tends to flourish in most environments, Chardonnay from its Burgundian homeland produces some of the most remarkable and longest lived examples. California produces both oaky, buttery styles and leaner, European-inspired wines. Somm Secret—The Burgundian subregion of Chablis, while typically using older oak barrels, produces a bright style similar to the unoaked style. Anyone who doesn't like oaky Chardonnay would likely enjoy Chablis.