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The Corton-Charlemagne is divided into 15 parcels, all of which are vinified and aged separately, until the second racking. When Jean-Charles took over the domaine about ¾ of it was planted to selections massales. The clones his parents used to replant were very good ones. But wanting to preserve the mutations specific to his vineyards, he has his own conservatory. For now, he still uses both clones and massales for vine replacements.
The domaine’s land is contiguous and is situated in the heart of the appellation, in En Charlemagne in Pernand-Vergelesses, and in Le Charlemagne in Aloxe-Corton. It most likely includes the 1.5 hectares owned by Emperor Charlemagne until 775. The vineyards are located on a diagonal that runs from the top En Charlemagne to the bottom of Le Charlemagne.
An oddity in Cote d’Or, the vineyard faces west —west/southwest in Aloxe, to west/northwest in Pernand. It is the only grand cru in Cote d’Or exposed to the setting sun and it gets substantially longer sunlight in the evening than the east facing slopes. Vines functioning through photosynthesis, Jean-Charles believes that this unique exposition is the main reason why Corton-Charlemagne stands apart from the other white grand crus, displaying extraordinary intensity, yet with little fat.
In 2006, Jean-Charles commissioned a geological study of his domaine. It revealed 9 distinct geological facies. In general, Corton-Charlemagne has almost no clay. Its topsoil is mostly silt that contains a lot of silica. It sits on a bed of white marl. Depending on where you are on the hill, the blocks of rock dip in opposite directions: down at the bottom of the slope, up at the top. There is a zone of faults in mid-slope. The sandy nature of the topsoil is a worry, and highly subject to erosion. The hill is steep for Burgundy, up to a 30% grade.
The west facing slope sits at the mouth of the valley of Echevronne, where Jean-Charles says there is a quasi-permanent breeze. Even when everything appears to be totally still, the direction of the biodynamic sprays leaves no doubt that there is air movement.