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Of all the villages of the Côte de Nuits, Morey-Saint-Denis is one of the most fruitful in terms of the number of its Grands Crus. The Clos de Tart, which remains a solely-held entity, was founded by the Cistercians of Tart in 1141. Since that date, it has been owned by only three families. The Clos Saint-Denis came on the scene in the 11th century, thanks to the fortress of Vergy. The Clos de la Roche and Clos des Lambrays are both semi-monopoles and both have long histories which have involved some adjustment of boundaries between Climats. The Clos de la Roche and Clos Saint-Denis were awarded their Grand Cru appellations on 8 December 1936, Clos de Tart on 4 January 1939, and Clos des Lambrays 27 April 1981.
Facing east or slightly south of east at around 250 metres above sea-level, these Climats may be seen as a southerly extension of the Grands Crus of Gevrey-Chambertin. First comes the Clos de la Roche, then Clos Saint-Denis followed by Clos des Lambrays, and finally Clos de Tart leading to Bonnes-Mares.
Limestone dominates in the Clos de la Roche where the soil is barely 30 cm deep with few pebbles but with large boulders which give the climat its name. In the Clos de Tart, scree-derived soils 40-120 cm thick cover the underlying limestone. The Upper part of the Clos des Lambrays is marly with claylimestone soil further down. The Clos Saint-Denis at the foot of the slope has pebble-free brown limestone soils which contain phosphorus (like Chambertin) and clay (like Musigny).
Diversity is to be expected as each Grand Cru has its own personality. To the eye, this wine is plain ruby, sometimes a bit darker. Veiled in strawberry and violet, the Clos de Tart offers both robustness and charm. Quite tannic when young, it softens with age while gaining in complexity. The Clos des Lambrays is a true aristocrat, fully rounded in youth and with added depth and gravity as the years go by. The Clos Saint-Denis impresses by its finely–tuned nuances – this wine is the Mozart of the Côte de Nuits. The Clos de la Roche is firmer, deeper and more serious, closely akin to Chambertin. Aromas of humus and truffle are often precursors to notes of small red or black fruits. A small part of the BONNES-MARES appellation lies in this commune, but the greater part is in Chambolle-Musigny. (See Fact-sheet No. 5).
Intense and full-bodied when fully mature, these wines have a densely tannic texture and an aromatic richness which makes them a fitting - and equal - partner for feathered game. They are perfect, too, with a rib steak and, for lovers of Asian cuisine, adapt well to the aromatic intensity of glazed poultry. Their supple but virile tannins go well with veal (braised or in sauce) and with roast or braised lamb. One must also not forget their invaluable affinity for strong-flavoured soft-centred cheeses.
Serving temperatures : 12 to 13 °C for young wines, 15 to 16 °C for older wines.
1999 VINTAGE in Burgundy
The last harvest of the century
Generous yields and exceptional quality for Burgundy's 1999 harvest
Burgundy, France, November 1999 ? The 1999 Burgundy wine harvest was as generous in terms of yield as it was exceptional in terms of quality. According to the Burgundy Wine Bureau (BIVB), the climatic conditions permitted, as happens only rarely, the number of grape bunches per plant to exceed the average of the last five years.
The harvest was marked by sunny conditions and record levels of maturity in the crop. Though there was rain in the last few days, well-tended vines yielded a promising harvest of grapes rich in sugar. Volume is expected to total around 1.5 million hectolitres, which is higher than 1998.
The first two weeks of September in Burgundy saw temperature records being broken and, as a result, well-ripened grapes. Sugars were at an average of 180 g/l (16.8g of sugar yields 1% alcohol) for the Chardonnay grapes, the highest average figure reached at the start of the harvest in the last ten years. In the Mâconnais, levels approached those of 1995 (an exceptional vintage). While the sugar level of the grapes in the Côte Chalonnaise left other years far behind, in the Yonne, it fell between that of 1995 and 1996.
The Pinot Noir grapes also experienced record levels of maturity. One vineyard in the Côte de Beaune yielded grapes with sugars at 230g/l at the beginning of September. In the Côte de Beaune, sugars reached 1995 levels, and in the Saône-et-Loire and Yonne records were broken as well. On average, sugar levels were 25g/l above those for 1988. The polyphenolic structure of the grapes (which determines the colour and structure of the wine) was excellent.
Every gourmet knows that the right balance between sweetness and acidity with food is crucial. The same is true of grapes. The sugar level determines the alcoholic strength of the wine while acidity is responsible for the perfect balance to give a wine its keeping qualities. It is clear that the high sugar levels seen in the grapes this year are matched by excellent levels of total acidity derived from the tartaric acid naturally present in the fruit. In the Pinot Noir grapes, average levels of tartaric acid, at around 7.5g/l, are higher than the average for the last ten years and close to those of 1991 and 1993. Equally, average total acidity in the Chardonnay grapes matches the average of the last decade.
From mid-September onwards Burgundy saw the return of rain, especially at night, and this upset the smooth progress of the harvest to some extent. However, the health of the grapes remained excellent and the rain had only limited effects on the quality of the crop, especially in the case of those growers who had the foresight and concern for quality which led them to carry out crop thinning or a green harvest earlier in the season.
At Domaine Latour the picking started on the 17th September with the vineyards in Beaune, the average sugar levels were 12.5% potential alcohol with some vineyards, including the Corton Charlemagne at 14%! Our harvest was finished by 27th thus we avoided much of the heavy rains.
The wines have now finished their alcoholic fermentation and will spend the next 18 months in barrel acquiring structure, flavour and complexity.
Our two sister wineries in the Valley of the Ardéche and further south in the Var both reported an excellent crop of healthy ripe fruit.
In the Ardéche isolated patches of spring frost and summer hail reduced our yield, leaving a small quantity of fully ripe and concentrated fruit. The two week harvest began on 2nd September under clear blue skies as the Chardonnay d?Ardéche came in at 13.2° whilst the Grand Ardéche easily made 13.5°. The wines have good rich fruitiness, and supportive acidity which gives excellent ageing potential to these well balanced young wines.
The Pinot Noir at Domaine de Valmoissine enjoyed an exceptional year with optimal levels of sun and rain throughout the growing season. The harvest began on 13th September, and lasted for 10 days. Whilst there was a little rain on the 8th day, all the fruit was harvested at 13.5°. This will be Valmoissines? best year yet, already the wines are showing ample richness, subtleness and a silky smoothness.