The best of Beaunes … ?; While there are many 1er crus in the Beaune appellation there is no Grand Crus – and the appellation is perhaps more known for it’s special cuvées than for the vineyards that produce these.
Cuvées or like Beaune Clos des Ursules, Beaune Vigne de L’Enfant Jesus, Beaune Clos de L’Ecu and Beaune Clos des Fèves are regarded as the most prominent wines or even brands – and the vineyard names are sometimes toned down while the cuvée names are highlighted.
Furthermore the Hospice de Beaune makes several cuvées that are produced as a blend of several vineyards, thus also blurring the focus on the individual Beaune vineyards.
Beaune Les Fèves is one of the most prominent vineyards in the old classifications, and is today mainly producing one of the more prominent Beaune cuvées – Domaine Chanson Beaune Clos de Fèves. While Chanson may not enjoy the highest of reputation, the Clos des Fèves is in my view still a wine that should be counted among the best of the Beaune cuvèes – hence also as one of the best wines produced from the appellation.
So lets take a closer look at Beaune Les Fèves and Beaune Clos des Fèves – so lets do a Vineyard and terroir Insight – thats almost, but not quite the same thing in this case.
Historic classifcation of the Beaune vineyards
Lets start out with a short view at the historic classifications of the Beaune vineyards – to explore the Beaune Les Fèves qualities seen in perspective and historically.
Beaune was highly regarded in the old classifications and these classifications do hold some information that can be used to complete a more nuanced picture of the qualities of the individual Beaune vineyards.
Lavalle1 1855 was quite detailed about the Beaune appellation – and he considered the following five vineyards as the best of the appellation – as Téte de Cuvée:
Téte de Cuvée:
- Les Féves
- Les Gréves
- Aux Crais
- Les Champs-Pimonts
Lavalle1 noted that the best part of Beaune Gréves was Vigne de L’Enfant Jésus then owned by M. Buretey. It should further be noted that Lavalle forgot/omitted Beaune Bressandes and l’Ecu when he made the classification – so not complete in that sense.
Chanson was not owner of Le Fèves in 1855 when Lavalle wrote his book, but in 1882 when Danguy & Aubertin3 completed their book, Chanson was among the owners. The large number of owners mentioned by Danguy & Aubertin does however indicate that the Chanson holdings was expanded futher after 1892. In 1920 Rodier4 only mentioned three owners one being Chanson pére et fils.
Moving on to the 1861 classification2 we see a both more detailed but also a less clear classification, as most of the vineyards received a 1eres Cuvees in the classification – the pink areas on the map below.
The 1861 recognize a consistent and high quality level of the vineyards – but is not very nuanced towards the top of the classification – an as such it resembles the current classification with a lot of 1er crus.
Moving on to Rodier4 1920 – he is mych more detailed and did actually mention the following Premiére Cuvées with capital letters – thus indicating that he considered these to be the best of the Beaune vineyards – his Téte de Cuvées so to speak.
“Téte de Cuvée – according to Rodier”:
- Les Féves
- Les Gréves
- Aux Crais
- Les Bressandes
- Les Marconnets
- Le Clos de la Mousse
- Le Clos de la Mouches
Rodier included more vineyards than Lavalle and omitted one of Lavalle’s Téte de Cuvées – Les Champs-Pimonts. Les Bressandes was not mentioned by Lavalle, and Les Marconnets, Le Clos de la Mousse, Le Clos de la Mouches were “only” classified as Premiére Cuvée by Lavalle.
Looking at the classifications it is clear that Beaune Les Féves has been considered as one of the best vineyards in the Beaune appellation in all the prominent classifications.
Beaune – the cuvées and the vineyards within the vineyards
While there are no Grand Crus in Beune there are some legendary “vineyards within the vineyards” often mentioned as Clos … – vinyards like Clos de Ursules, Clos des Fèves, Vigne de L’Enfant Jesus and Clos de L’Ecu …
These “monopoles” are brands outside the regular classifications of the vineyards. Clos de Ursules is – as mentioned – a part of the 1er cru Vignes Franches, and is a monopole owned by Louis Jadot. Clos de Ursules is a quite strong brand, and the vineyards name is secondary on the label.
Moving on to the Beaune Greves Vigne de L’Enfant Jésus – also a monopole – and owned by Bouchard Pere et Fils. This vineyard was mentioned by Lavalle as the best part of Beaune Greves, and is a historic vineyard – see the full article about Vigne de L’Enfant Jésus. It’s a strong brand for Bouchard and often this is overshadowing the fact that it is a key part of Beaune Greves.
Clos de L’Ecu is another quite well known brand – previously owned by Jaboulet Vercherre now a part of Domaine Faiveley. Again – the wine/the cuvée is perhaps more well known than the 1er cru itself, as it also represents a large part of A l’Ecu.
Lastly – and the topic of the article: Beaune Clos de Fèves another fine “brand” and monopole owned by Domaine Chanson. It’s a large Clos – 4.12 ha – including a large part of the current Les Feves vineyard + a piece of the neighbouring L’Ecu 1er cru – more about this below.
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