Domaine Mouton Givry 1er Cru 'Clos Jus' 2013
Domaine Mouton's aptly-named 'Clos Jus' ('jus' means 'juice') is the Mouton wine we go to first. Always ripe and juicy, ready to drink relatively early. Minerality is the key here, from a vineyard with different soil make-up to the rest of the appellation. Dark fruit, earth notes, delicate structure fleshed out to fullness. We appreciate the finesse in the winemaking, an unstinting perfectionism that has been communicated across a generation. The self-effacing Moutons would be the last to admit it, but for us their wines are nearly always perfect.
Gerard Mouton and his son Laurent work about 24 acres of vines, mostly in ‘appellation’ Givry in the Cote Chalonnaise. We've know them since Laurent was just a little boy. They make four Givry first growths. But we start here with our favorite, the aptly-named 'Clos Jus'. Always ripe and juicy, ready to drink relatively early. We appreciate the finesse in the winemaking, an unstinting perfectionism that has been communicated across a generation. For us their wines are always perfect.
Burgundy 2013 was yet another small crop. The fourth in as many years. Some of it will be very good, in both red and white. But for some producers it was a disaster. As we always do, let’s start with a run-down of the weather conditions over the growing season (what the locals tellingly call ‘the campaign’).
Winter was wet and hung on stubbornly. March snow gave way to a few spring-like days, and everyone thought the worst was over. But no. April was cold and wet. May was the wettest on record. We posted photos of ducks swimming in the flooded vineyards. And winter gloom and temperatures persisted.
June was better, but just. Flowering started in the early part of the month, but with the cool wet conditions it was erratic and irregular. Lots of coulure and millerandange as a result. These aborted grapes would be one of the reasons for a small 2013 yield, and would come in to play in the final outcome at harvest.
Summer arrived late in the month. But even the warm temperatures and relatively fine weather did little to dispel the feeling of instability. There was nothing consistent to make you feel like you could just settle in to grape growing.
Then in the third week of July, high pressure and high humidity built up to a series of storms, the most violent of which tore out of the Savigny valley on the 23rd. Like a military gunship, the hail storm swept across the Savigny vines, hit Pernand on the west side of the Corton Mountain and headed south across Beaune, Pommard and Volnay. Producers tell us it lasted almost half an hour. It was the second year running that Pommard and Volnay were ravaged.
The humidity continued into August, and producers up and down the Cote nervously watched the sky. The big fear now was that damaged grapes would rot of mildew and odium, so preventive spraying intensified. If there was a bright spot in the growing season, it was the dry spell in mid-August. The damaged grapes shriveled and dropped off the vine, making the inevitable sorting at harvest more manageable.
Yields were tiny, even in the areas not ripped by hail. But the quality of the fruit was good going into September in the Cotes de Nuits and the white wine production south of Beaune, as well as in the Chalonnaise, Maconnais and Chablis.
Most of the harvest came in in the first weeks of October, the latest Burgundy vintages since 1991 and 1978. Maturity arrived at the end. Slowly at first, just like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay like it to be. But that slow maturity turned into a gallop, especially for the whites. From Macon to Chablis, the quality of 2013 whites comes down to crucial decisions about when to pick in the final few days.
Two months prior to harvest, the mood was gloomy. And granted, those poor producers who got slammed in July will suffer for years. (Some say that another small crop in 2014 could force some out of business.) But there is quality in many cellars. The reds will be highly variable, but the best wines (from domains that sorted the harvest carefully as it came to the cuverie) are fresh, deeply colored and beautifully ripe, with balance that seems apt for long aging. As always, you have to know who made the wine. There is more consistent quality in the whites across the board. Some say an excellent exciting year.
The Cote Chalonnaise begins at the southern tip of the Cote de Beaune, but covers a different ridge slightly to the east. The five Cote Chalonnaise appellations run generally north to south from Bouzeron, through Rully, with Mercurey covering a basin a bit more to the west, then on down to Givry and finally Montagny. The big town is Chalon-sur Saone, but in spirit you are closer to Chassagne-Montrachet and Volnay. Givry (with its hamlets of Poncey, Cortiambles and Russilly), Dracy-le-Fort, and Jambles form a distinct wine production zone. Here red wines represent 80% of the appellation, and there are 240 acres of premier cru red (and a mere 24 acres of premier cru white).
Produced in the communes of Givry, Dracy-le-Fort and Jambles, the appellation Givry includes 26 premiers crus.
Givry is primarily a red wine made from Pinot Noir. A good one will be brilliant crimson with purple hints in youth. The nose should be floral with red and black woodland fruits. It can be spicy, black pepper and cloves, and gamey as it ages. It can show tight tannins early on, and generally needs 3 to 5 years to fully come around, showing structure and fullness, and at the same time supple finesse.
White Givry is Chardonnay, and should be a bright, limpid pale gold. Aromas of honey and lemon show good structure, while tight floral and dried fruit notes develop with age. A good Givry white is delicate, with enough balance between alcohol and acidity to leave a long finish and the promise of aging well.
Much of the area is planted on brown soils derived from the breakdown of Oxfordian Jurassic limestone and clay limestone. Most of the vines are planted facing east-south-east or due south at altitudes between 240 and 280 meters with some slightly higher.
Mainly reds - Pinot NoirWhite wines - Chardonnay
Production surface area
1 hectare (ha) = 2.4 acres
Reds : 223.52 ha (including 96.68 ha premier cru)
Whites : 45.46 ha (including 9.45 ha premier cru)
The firm structure of the reds enrobes a delicate center, and makes this a great wine for charcuterie of all types: pâtés and terrines, as well as cured hams. However, it is solid enough for roast beef joints and braised and stewed fibrous cuts. We're not far from Bresse here, so poultry (especially the famous blue-footed Bresse chicken) is often on the menu in better local restaurants. It is equally well-matched with soft cheeses like Camembert, Brie and Reblochon.
Givry whites are well matched with fish in light sauces. Freshwater fish like pike and pike-perch from the Saone river are the base of many traditional dishes of the area. As for cheeses, try pressed-curd cheeses such as Saint-Nectaire and Cantal.
On the label, the appellations 'Givry' and 'Givry 1er Cru' may be followed by the name of a specific vineyard, known as a climat.
The following climats are classified as premier cru:
A Vigne Rouge
Clos de la Baraude
Clos du Cras long
Clos du Vernoy
La Grande Berge
Le Petit Prétan
Les Bois Chevaux
Les Bois Gautiers
Les Grandes Vignes
Les Grands Prétans
Clos du Cellier aux Moines
La Petite Berge
Le Champ Lalot
Le Pied du Clou
Pied de Chaume
The following climats are village wines from a single vineyard, known as a lieu-dit.
Brusseaux de Charron
Champ la Dame
Clos de la Brûlée
Les Plants Sont Fleuris
Les Vignes Rondes
Teppe des Chenèves