Spring=Chardonnay=Domaine Sainte Barbe

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2012 Viré-Clessé from Domaine Sainte Barbe

Now that it’s officially spring, we can look ahead to all of the excitement that comes with it! Of the many great things about springtime, especially here in SF, is the warmer weather. And when it warms up, it just makes sense to enjoy a little chill in your vino! Anya recently regaled us about Jean-Marie Chaland’s unoaked Mâcon Villages Les Tilles, citing its sophistication for an entry-level offering. Jean-Marie also makes wines from Viré-Clessé, and if you love pure Chardonnay expression for a very fair price, you’re not going to want to miss out on these …
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Viré-Clessé is a recently created appellation (1999) in southern Burgundy, singling out a small parcel of land outside of Mâcon’s Pouilly appellations which is capable of producing high-quality Chardonnay. It’s interesting to note that the appellation’s rules dictate that only the dryest (3g residual sugar per liter or lower) wines are allowed to bear the Viré-Clessé label, and Chaland makes some sensational wines from this slice of southern Burgundy.

For his 2012 Viré-Clessé Vieilles Vignes, Jean-Marie’s sources are vines all in excess of 55 years old planted in clay and limestone soils. All tank vinified, the wine is aged on its lees for 14 months and bottled. It’s pure, unadulterated Chardonnay, all business, no pretense. Its structure suggests it should be hitting its happy zone from 2017, but an hour or so of decanting now will have it dancing effortlessly on your palate.
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Only 250 cases of Saint Barbe’s 2012 Viré-Clessé Perrière were made. The vines from this vineyard are 35 years old, and typically, the Perrière shows plentiful amounts of mineral notes. It’s aged in barrel, mostly 1 and 2 year old, with 10% being new. The 2012 is a wine marked by rich, ripe, fleshy white fruit flavors. The palate is full, expressive, and accessible; game on!

The vines in Chaland’s L’Épinet vineyard were planted in 1940! The soil consists of gravel upon red clay, and it sits on top a hill with southeast exposure. Jean-Marie uses one new barrel and the rest neutral in aging his l’Épinet, giving it a little texture to complement the dazzling, bright yellow fruit. Bottled unfined and unfiltered, the amalgam of complexity in the 2012 Viré-Clessé L’Épinet drinks well beyond its modest price-point.

Wow! Exciting times indeed. Springtime is here, warm weather straight ahead! Here are a trio of tasty Chardonnays that will impress your palates without “Burgundizing” your pocketbooks. Enjoy!

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Filed under Jean-Marie Chaland, Peter Zavialoff, Viré-Clessé