Domaine Mouton Givry 1er Cru 'Clos Jus' 2019
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 2019 VINTAGE
There’s a popular saying here in Burgundy which points out that, since the start of the 20th century, vintages ending in ‘9’ have been exceptional. So when 2019 came around, we were secretly anticipating something special. Little did we know!
Every vintage comes with its own hyperbole: best of the decade; greatest of the century; another 1990. And it’s true, as the climate continues to warm, there has been some remarkable wine produced in recent years. But in Burgundy in 2019, it got hot.
Both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay like to come to maturity slowly. Too much heat cooks the elegance out of them. So climate change is an existential issue for Burgundy wine as we know it.
But in 2019 something remarkable happened. I hesitate to call it a paradigm shift; it may well be a one-off. But in a year where, in some places, grapes turned to raisins on the vine, Burgundy has given us a vintage worthy of the hyperbole.
You won’t find many lacey, delicate wines this year. The vintage will be unapologetically bold and unbelievably concentrated. The whites are indulgent, often explosive, and pinned to a mind-bogglingly good acidic framework, given the summer heat. The reds are sophisticated and elegant, alive.
Perhaps most tellingly, despite the hot summer, this was not one of those late-August harvests that we’re getting accustomed to. The harvest got underway in the Cote de Beaune on 12 September. And some in the Cote de Nuits did not begin picking until the 23rd. The fruit was ripe earlier, but the fine conditions allowed the growers to wait for the holy grail: phenolic maturity.
You rarely get fruit maturity (the sugar part of the equation) plus phenolic maturity (the tannins in the pips and stems) coming together at the same time. Usually you sacrifice one for the other. You can’t force it to happen. Nature bestows it upon you. But when it does happen, that, almost by definition, is a great vintage.
2019 will be a great vintage. Think 2018 with more energy. The only downside is that, as opposed to the bumper crop we saw in 2018, 2019 was a small crop. Down by as much as 60% in the southern zones where it was hottest.
Let’s look quickly at how the season developed. The winter 2018/19 was mild, with higher than average temperatures in December and February. There was a lot of rain in December which many claim could ultimately have saved the vintage from the summer’s drought.
Spring was warm and the growth cycle started earlier than usual. There were precocious zones with bud burst in early April. But cold weather set in on 5 April with frost in many areas. Frost damage would have an effect on yields, particularly in the Maconnais. The cold weather held on through mid-April with several consequential frost risks.
Warm weather returned in May and remained until early June when temperatures dropped again, slowing growth again and hindering flowering. There was a good bit of flower abortion (millerandage), which, again, took its part of the yield at harvest.
Then mid-summer was hot-hot And dry-dry. The vines, for the most part, were in good shape going into the heat wave, but the stress was excessive. Vines handled the conditions differently from one plot to the next. Consensus is that old vines, with their deep roots, were able to find water in the subsoil. And that younger, well-tended vines, had a similar advantage. Vines with roots that went looking for water near the surface, however, suffered towards the end of the season, as they scorched and shriveled.
There was just a bit of rain in August, and from then on through September was hot but fine. In certain areas Pinot Noir ripened before Chardonnay, so harvest planning was complicated. The first Cremant vineyards were picked at the very end of August, and the harvest continued through to mid-October.
Harvest was a joy for the most part. Good weather. No disease. And the fruit that survived frost and fire was beautiful. Fermentation in both white and red went off easily. Whites finished slowly, gently, giving balance and purity. The length of red fermentation varied a lot, but the tannins are fine and the wine has vigor.
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