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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.
Extremely invinting. Ripe fruit and intense mocha aroma and fully spiced. Thick and full in the mouth, the deepest pile tannins of the wines tasted in this flight but very smooth. Rich and voluptuous and dense with no hint of overripeness of fruit or harshness of tannin and just enough freshness. Unexpectedly delicious and hedonistic. Chewy and mouthfilling and fragrant on the finish with a warmth at the very end. 18/20. Drink 2009-20 (Julia Harding - JancisRobinson.com - Corney & Barrow Tasting March 26th 2009).
Les cigales sont en avance d'au moins deux semaines : ça veut dire que le soleil va boire la moitié du vin" (The cicadas are at least two weeks early: that means the sun will soak up half the wine') Marcel Pagnol (Manon des Sources). During the summer of 2003, France and, in particular, Burgundy experienced extreme, scorching temperatures sometimes in excess of 104°F. The consequences of this heatwave were considerable: a small harvest but exceptional wines.
The vines had been hit first by frost, which in April caused some damage to the young shoots and buds which were ready to bloom. At the end of May, some bunches of grapes were already in flower : flowering was therefore about two weeks earlier than usual. Already the presence of cicadas chirring around the flowers had announced this advance.The Pinot Noir life cycle normally takes place over 5 months, from the budbreak around April 20th until the grape harvest around September 20th. This period was reduced to 4 months as a result of the heat during the summer of 2003 ! After the flowering, the length of time normally necessary for the grapes to ripen of 90 - 100 days was shortened to between 75 and 80 days ! In spite of this, 2003 should not be regarded simply as a drought year, but as an abnormal year, the result of a summer heatwave. With the occasional exception, the vines were not too badly damaged and the foliage remained green throughout the vegetal period thanks to the fact that the vines were deeply rooted in a subsoil which was still cool and humid. Some of the grapes, however, suffered from the heat which dried them up or burnt them.
In the Côte de Beaune and Côte de Nuits regions, permission to harvest was given on August 19th. The 1893 record was therefore broken : earlier evidence of a harvest starting in mid-August dates back to 1420 and 1422, according to Dr. Jules Lavalle in his book Histoire et statistiques de la vigne et des grands vins de la Côte-d'Or published in 1855. The vinegrowers started panicking since most of their grape-pickers were still on holiday and therefore it was difficult to contact them.
At the Clos de Tart domain, the grape samples we took on August 20th indicated a likelihood of only 11 degrees potential alcohol. Therefore, we had to wait to harvest because the vine had most likely suffered from a lack of water which was not visible on the foliage but which prevented further ripening. We were right to wait before harvesting because at the end of August, a small amount of rain fell : this not only cooled down the atmosphere but also enabled the grapes to start ripening again. In fact, we started harvesting on September 2nd, in other words, two weeks later than the 1976 harvest which, up until this point, had been the earliest recorded harvest in the 20th century. The temperatures, which were higher than 95°F at the end of August, fell to normal levels. This allowed us to harvest grapes which were sufficiently cool to be put in vats without being refrigerated beforehand.
We had never before had such wonderful raw materials : small bunches of grapes in the shape of pine cones, small dark blue/violet colored berries, in an absolutely perfect healthy state with no trace whatsoever of Botrytis : in short, any grand cru producer's dream come true! Once again, the unusual north-south direction of the rows in our vineyard, in other words, perpendicular to the vineyard slope, enabled us to avoid the berries being burnt too much. During the long summer days, the sun's rays light up one side of the grapes in the morning and the other in the afternoon, thereby evenly distributing the effect of the heat. As a result, the loss in our harvest due to excessive heat from the sun was limited to 25 %, whereas in other vineyards sometimes it affected 70 % of the crop.
These grapes needed a suitable vinification and tailor-made maturing techniques. Therefore, we decided to carry out operations which were less intense than usual : 80% destemming, a reduced maceration time (18 days), fermentation with lower temperatures (82.4° F max), less frequent punching of the cap and shortened aging times (16.5 months in Allier and Troncais French oak.)
Our fears of producing atypical wines in comparison with our Burgundy Pinot noir were quickly put to rest after the malolactic fermentations which, despite a very small quantity of malic acid, took place rather belatedly in August, thanks to an excellent control of temperature in our cellars.
The bottling, without fining or filtering beforehand, was carried out in our cellars on February 8th -11th, 2005.