Domaine Chanson, Bourgogne: impressive 2020 releases

Domaine Chanson has a sizeable 43 hectares of vines in Bourgogne, and also operates as a negociant. This was a great chance to taste their domaine wines from the 2020 vintage. I really loved them – to the extent that they were a lot better than I was expecting. Chanson seems to be on a roll at the moment. I visited and tasted a couple of years ago, and was impressed, but these are even better.

Vincent Avenel, Chanson

I asked managing director Vincent Avenel how he felt about the 2020 vintage. ‘It’s superb,’ he replied. ‘Unexpectedly superb. Because the weather was very warm. It was an early vintage, and we had drought. Often when you have these conditions the final result is a wine that lacks acidity, is a bit too rich, and isn’t very terroir driven.’

‘This one proves the contrary! We didn’t expect such a classic style. Obviously, there is good concentration and maturity, but at the same time there is nice acidity and good balance overall. There is good terroir definition. We are very happy with this vintage.’

I noted that I didn’t pick up any oak in the reds. ‘We use oak – we use 25% new oak – but we are very cautious not to cover the fruit and the terroir expression. 25% does the job and brings an extra dimension to the wine, but without covering the natural beauty of the wine.’

I also said that my impression was that Chanson is in the ascendancy. ‘To be honest, this started already a few years before I joined,’ says Avenel. There was the first step taken by the previous team: Gilles de Courcel was my predecessor.’ [Avenel took over in July 2017; Bollinger have owned Chanson since 1999.] ‘But it’s true that in the last two years we have a new team and we also have a new approach to the wines. We used to be 100% whole cluster on our reds, and this is something we have adapted. We love whole cluster vinification because it really brings an extra dimension to the wines in terms of complexity and texture and longevity, but perhaps it doesn’t have to be 100% every year and on every plot. We also pick a bit earlier than we used to. The goal is to maintain power and complexity, but also to have a bit more freshness, elegance and balance.’

Do you think that picking earlier is a clearer lens on the terroir? If you pick too early or too late you lose terroir. ‘If you pick too early that is bad because you have green flavours and boring wines. If you pick too late you might have a lot of concentration, but then the fruit tends to dominate the terroir and the tannins might be too strong. Again, there is no perfect solution, it is a question of balance.’

‘Two weeks before the harvest we already know approximately what kind of vintage we will have, and the week before we plan the harvest with my winemaker and vineyard manager. We go through all the plots, we taste the berries, we look at the seeds, we look at the stems and we decide if we think whole cluster will bring something or not.’

And the follow on vintage, 2021? Is it best not to mention it? ‘2021 was a very challenging vintage. We had frost, we had mildew, we had rot. We had everything we wished we wouldn’t have. I think we have done our best, by sorting, defining the right harvest dates and adapting our destemming. I think we are going to produce something nice, but it won’t be the vintage of the century!’


Chanson Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos 2020 Bourgogne, France
This is not a domaine wine. Assertive nose of lime and minerals. Textured, with a mineral streak to the ripe pear fruit with some spice. Lovely. 94/100

Domaine Chanson Savigny Beaune Blanc 1er Cru Hauts Marconnets 2020 Bourgogne, France
Chardonnay is rare in Savigny but the marl/limestone soils in this 2.18 hectare plot encouraged Chanson to plant it. Lively and pure with lovely citrus fruit. Very fine with nice purity and a fine citrus core, showing lovely acidity. Such finesse here. 93/100

Domaine Chanson Pernand Vergelesses Blanc 1er Cru Les Caradeux 2020 Bourgogne, France
East facing plot of 1.9 hectares on mid-slope, sharing soils with its neighbour Corton Charlemagne. Taut, linear and pure with nice precision. Fine spices, lemons and dried herbs, with a taut lemony edge. 93/100

Domaine Chanson Chassagne Montrachet 1er Cru Les Chenevottes 2020 Bourgogne, France
Chanson have 2 hectares of this east facing vineyard with clay limestone soils. Some bready notes on the nose. Fine, linear palate is supple with a nice acid line. Shows precision: fresh with a touch of oak. 93/100

Domaine Chanson Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Les Folatières 2020 Bourgogne, France
Southeast exposure, with predominantly clay soils. This is wonderfully stony and mineral with taut acidity. A fresh, expressive wine with great focus. Tight and linear. 94/100

Domaine Chanson Beaune 1er Cru Clos des Mouches 2020 Bourgogne, France
Chanson have 4.5 hectares of Clos des Mouches, and this comes from a 2 hectare plot with sandy limestone soils. Taut, linear and finely spiced with good acidity and great purity. Bright and focused, this has lightness but also intensity. 94/100

Domaine Chanson Corton Vergennes Grand Cru 2020 Bourgogne, France
A small vineyard on the hump of the hill of Corton. Intense, mineral and stony with a cedary spicy overlay from some very sophisticated oak. Shows great concentration and poise, with lovely freshness. Needs time to integrate. 95/100

Chanson Monthelie 1er Cru Clos Gauthey 2020 Bourgogne, France
West facing vineyard. Lovely pure ripe fruit here: generous cherries. Pure and expressive with a hint of olive and spice. 93/100

Domaine Chanson Santenay Beauregard 1er Cru 2020 Bourgogne, France
They have three hectares here in a plot on the top of the hill, with bony, stony soils. So pure, pretty and floral with lovely fruit focus. Low extraction style with appealing sweet ripe cherries and plums. 93/100

Domaine Chanson Pernand Vergelesses 1er Cru Vergelesses 2020 Bourgogne, France
This has a lively sappy edge to the cherry and raspberry fruit nose. Nice concentration on the palate with good acidity, some green hints and a lively, spicy structural undercurrent. 94/100

Domaine Chanson Savigny 1er Cru Dominode 2020 Bourgogne, France
Chalky soils from the midslope. Wonderful summer pudding fruity nose. Intense, concentrated palate with fresh acidity and lovely defined structure. Great intensity here: lovely fruit and fine structure. 93/100

Domaine Chanson Beaune 1er Cru Clos du Roi 2020 Bourgogne, France
Floral and expressive with nice bright raspberry and cherry fruit. Has good acidity and a chalky, mineral core: a lovely expressive wine. 94/100

Domaine Chanson Beaune 1er Cru Teurons 2020 Bourgogne, France
Four hectares owned by Chanson here. Bright and fruit driven, and also quite pretty. This has lovely focused cherry and berry fruit, with nice acidity. Rounded, supple and appealing. 93/100

Domaine Chanson Beaune 1er Cru Bressandes 2020 Bourgogne, France
A 2 hectare vineyard on the upper part of the hill, facing east. Aromatic, fine and floral with lovely fruit on the nose. Fresh and pretty on the palate with nice elegance and purity, as well as good structure. This is really appealing. 95/100

Domaine Chanson Beaune 1er Cru Grèves 2020 Bourgogne, France
Sandy, gravelly soil. Very pure and fresh, but also well structured, with a firm core covered by sweet cherry fruit. This has a chalky mineral undercurrent. Very expressive. 94/100

Domaine Chanson Beaune 1er Cru Clos des Marconnets 2020 Bourgogne, France
Chanson owns 4 ha of this 10 ha vineyard. Sweetly aromatic, floral and appealing, with a fleshy palate and vivid raspberry fruit. There’s good structure here, as well as a touch of liquorice. 94/100

Domaine Chanson Beaune 1er Cru Clos des Mouches 2020 Bourgogne, France
Limestone subsoil covered with clay. Sweetly floral nose of aromatic cherries and plums. The palate is lively and fresh with good acidity, and it has a chalky, mineral underpinning. Both flesh and bones here. 95/100

Domaine Chanson Beaune 1er Cru Clos des Fèves Monopole 2020 Bourgogne, France
This is a 3.8 hectare Chanson monopole, midslope in the heart of the Beaune 1er Crus. Structured with some oak showing under the sweet vivid red cherry and raspberry fruit. Beautifully structured with nice purity and focus. There’s an openness here, but also good structure. 94/100

UK agent: Mentzendorff

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