In Focus, by Richard Sagala
Château des Bachelards, (Magnum), Le Clos 2014
Above is a 19th century print showing a French wine growing property, Les Bachelards, located in Burgundy, more specifically in Fleurie, one of the ten Beaujolais Crus (first growths). One can see the wall connected to the main house behind which vines were grown and were called Le Clos (read: the vines in the enclosure). We can equally read on this print that Le Clos wine was awarded a silver medal at the 1872 and 1878 Lyon (France) exhibition. Very impressive, but nothing new since the property was already mentioned in 1100’s by the monks of the Cluny Abbey.
In past centuries, it was frequent to see the best parcels of land, those best spots to cultivate and grow vines, enclosed by a wall. One can’t help but think of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. La Romanée-Conti cru has an area of 1,8 hectares, as does the Clos des Bachelards.
To compare wines from Beaujolais Fleurie appellation and Côte de Nuits Vosne-Romanée (where lies the prestigious Romanée-Conti parcel) is not so far fetched considering that in the 1950’s (if you browse through an older catalogue from the French wine merchant Nicolas), the wines from the prestigious Gevrey-Chambertin appellation were sold at the same price levels as the Fleurie‘s.
Crafted from 100% Gamay grapes, typical for Beaujolais as is Pinot Noir typical of Burgundy Côte de Nuits, Le Clos des Bachelards shares the “élégance bourguignone” style with its cousins from the north.
The wines are crafted in pure burgundian style. No carbonic maceration here or selected yeasts to give it banana flavour… Bachelards is under the supervision of Stéphane Derenoncourt and his team (they don’t do things halfway here).
The wine’s taste profile is caracterised by a purity of fruit, a slender body, light tanins, a silky mid-palate and a lingering finish with a return on red fruit aromas (reminiscent of cherries). Fresh in the mouth, the wine is balanced with a moderate 12,5% alcohol content.
The Clos des Bachelards is organically grown, Demeter biodynamic in fact, the highest level of certification available. This is not the result of a recent conversion from the chemical throes of a less than virtuous past; the actual as well as previous owners have always tended their fields and cultivated them organically, with a high density of vines plantation (10,000 vines per hectare). In fact, with its 8 hectares (20 acres) of organically farmed fruit, it is the largest biodynamic production concern in the region (usually, growers have only a few hectares of biodynamic certified parcels).
Due to its high costs, choosing this path is always a bit hazardous for the grower. His production costs are 4 times higher (Bachelards says), even up to ten times, says Olivier Humbrecht, a famous organic wine producer from Alsace (in Les Maîtres du Vin Français, Amanda Pictures). Sad as it is for the producers though, when the wines from an appellation are not too expensive to start with, the consumers will not pine over it since it allows for a larger audience to get involved and buy their production.
As it stands actually, the Beaujolais Crus offer tremendous value for money.
At the International Montreal Butler Academy we are always on the lookout to find delicious wines that cellar well.
In conclusion, in light of the high quality granitic terroir found at les Bachelards which allows for a great cellaring potential, we recommend that a few, or (even better) many, magnums of 2014 Clos find their way to the smart collectors’ wine racks.
This wine style is polyvalent and will pair well with a variety of dishes. After having double decanted it the night before, we, Alain Cloutier, Guy Doucet and yours truly have enjoyed it on grilled beef….so much so that we (eventually) polished the bottle…
In Vino Veritas!
link to the french version of this wine presentation
To the Château des Bachelards: www.bachelards.com