I have so far neglected the Morey-Saint-Denis appellation in my vineyard research .. but now its time to take on the wolves.
Morey-Saint-Denis have several Grand Crus to offer .. Clos de Tart, a part of Bonnes Mares, Clos Saint Denis and Clos des Lambrays …but the signature wine of Morey is in my book somehow the mighty Clos de la Roche.
Clos de la Roche is often overlooked when the great grand crus of Burgundy are mentioned, but the delight and pleasure of a fully mature Clos de la Roche should not be missed in the quest for gorgeous Burgundy moments. I have had some truly lovely moments with Clos de la Roche from producers like Hubert Lignier, Ponsot and Dujac.
Clos de la Roche is however a rather complex vineyard, as it has been enlarged significantly from it’s original size and shape by including parts of the surrounding vineyards.
So let’s take a closer look at Clos de la Roche…
Clos de la Roche .. one name several vineyards!
Clos de la Roche consists of plots in 8 climats located on the upper northern side of Morey-Saint-Denis – see map below.
Plots from the following climats are today included in Clos de la Roche:
- Clos de la Roche – 4.5740 ha
- Les Chabiots – 2.1475 ha
- Les Fremiéres – 2.3600 ha
- Les Froichots – 0.6410 ha
- Les Mochamps – 2.5120 ha
- Monts Luisants – 3.1100 ha
- Les Genavriéres – 0.8020 ha
- Les Chaffots – 0.0725 ha
Please note only a part of Les Genavriéres, Les Chaffots and Monts Luisants are included in Clos de la Roche, the upper parts of these climats are classified as 1er cru and sold under the climate name i.e. Morey-Saint-Denis Monts Luisants and Les Genavriéres.
Les Chaffots is even more complex, as a quite large part of Les Chaffots is included in Clos Saint Denis, and the top part produces some excellent 1er crus.
The total area of Clos de la Roche is 16.9 ha, after being expanded at least two times over the last 80 years.
The original Clos de la Roche – the core
The original Clos de la Roche was 4.5740 ha and only included the climate Clos de la Roche (surprise!!).
Lavalle1 mention Clos de la Roche as Premiére Cuvée with a total area of 4.5740 ha in 1855 and this is supported by the 1861 classification2 where the area is quoted as 4.5740 ha. Rodier 2comfirmed the area in his book .. so Clos de la Roche was not expanded when he wrote his book in 1920.
The map below shows the current (white) and the original (red) Clos de la Roche … quite a difference in size to say the least.
The first expansion was most likely in 1936 when the AOC Morey-Saint-Denis was finalized in a decree dated December 8th 1936. The second round seems to have been in 1971 where a few additional plots were added – to complete the vineyard we know today.
The first expansion of Clos de la Roche
As mentioned above ..Clos de la Roche was presumably expanded in 1936 in connection with the classification of the vineyards – the AOC for Morey-Saint-Denis and Clos de la Roche was finalized on December 8th 1936.
I have however not been able to find documentation for this expansion as the INAO decree from 1936 seems to be impossible to find.
I have however managed to find a decree from 1944, where the plots and the area of Clos de la Roche are mentioned in detail – see below.
The decree shows that in total 10,7705 ha from the vineyards Les Chabiots, Les Fremiéres, Les Froichots, Les Mochamps and Monts Luisants had been included in the Clos de la Roche thus expanding the total area to 15,3445 ha.
Most sources indicate that the major expansion happened in 1936, so that is the most likely scenario, and perhaps the 1944 decree included further plots. But without the decree from 1936 it’s impossible to see if plots were added in 1944.
Nevertheless we can conclude that most of the expansion of Clos de La Roche happened before July 4th 1944.
The expansion can be seen on the map below … the original Clos de la Roche (red) and the expanded Clos de la Roche (white).
Looking at the expansion not all added plots were of the same standard as the original Clos de la Roche according to Lavalle1. He rated Les Chabiots, Les Fremiéres, Les Mochamps as Deuxiéme Cuvée and Les Froichots was only rated quartiémes cuvée by Lavalle.
The 1861 classification2 does however support the expansion as most of – if not all the included plots were rated as 1re Classé. Actually it looks like the expansion was done using the 1861 classification as a guideline.
Rodier4 on the other hand rates Les Monts Luisants as Deuxieme Cuvée while the other plots included are Premieres Cuvées.
The 1971 expansion
In 1971 Clos de la Roche was expanded again … filling in the gaps and taking in a part of Les Genavriéres and a miniscule part of Les Chaffots – see photo of the four rows below.
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