Domaine Mouton Givry 1er Cru 'Clos Jus' 2021
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.
Nothing abides. Just as we Burgundy purists begrudgingly acknowledged the vitality and variety of the three previous hot-weather vintages, along came 2021, classic Burgundy with its frost, damp and low yields.
Way back when, in pre-climate-change conditions, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay would struggle, year after year, to come to maturity in what was this, the northernmost spot in Europe where grapes could ripen enough to make still wine. That struggle was, in fact, the very definition of viticulture in Burgundy (chaptalization notwithstanding).
But then weather patterns started to change, not drastically, but gradually: milder winters and earlier springs; hotter summers and earlier autumns. By the time we got to 2018, then 2019 and then 2020, those mild winters were breeding grounds for mildew, the early springs were prone to killer frosts, those hot summers forced ripeness onto reticent grapes varieties, and early autumns left little time to the winemaker to sort it all out.
If this all sounds like an accident waiting to happen, hang on to your hat; it’s all perspective.
2018 was wet, wet, wet through winter and up to mid-April. Then an explosive bud-burst sent the winemakers scurrying to control the vegetation. But then it got hot, hot, south-of-Spain hot, and mildew never stood a chance. Early harvest, no health issues. Big crop. Great vintage.
2019 was wet through the winter. Early bud burst, then frost took part of the crop. A warm set up flowering, but cold weather set in, taking another part of the crop. Then it got hot and very dry. Well-tend vines and, especially, old vines did well because there was last winter’s water in the water table, and good vines can go deep for water. Hot, healthy harvest. Great really ripe vintage.
2020 was precocious. Mild wet winter. Bud burst in mid-April. From that point on, there is not much to report weatherwise. It was hot and dry from June through to the end. Harvest started in August. Indeed, there was more stress on the winemakers than there was on the vines. When to pick? Overall, great vintage both white and red.
See a pattern?
And 2021…well in 2021 things returned to ‘normal’ (if such a thing is possible in Burgundy!) First came devastating frosts in the early part of April, which were followed by a cool May, leading to a damp summer with the ever-present threat of hail.
Chardonnay was more affected than Pinot Noir in that the red grapes come into leaf later. What all this means for the Burgundy harvest is that it will be a story of low yields (miniscule in places) and a late harvest.
When the older winemakers talk about what to expect this year, words such as ‘historic’ are used and comparisons are drawn with the harvest of 1970.
Some say we could be down 30% on 2020s already low yields. But it isn’t all bad news. Winemakers are nothing if not hardy, and their optimism cannot be shaken that easily. Fewer grapes on the vine means that those which have survived should have an intensity of flavor which sets them apart and may mark this harvest out as extraordinary. There may be other upsides, too: because the harvest is later, the grapes have had more ‘hang time’ which could mean good phenolic maturity.
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