2019 is an absolutely top flight Burgundy vintage, and the wines from Maison de la Chapelle in Irancy are the finest we have tasted so far.
We have worked with Grégory and Delphine Viennois for two vintages, but this was our first chance to enjoy a proper visit to their Maison in the pretty village of La Chapelle-Vaupelteigne. Grégory is the technical director of Chablis Laroche where he is responsible for producing over a million bottles of white wine a year. Maison de la Chapelle is his passion project. Here, he makes a little under 12,000 bottles of red from two garages in his garden, doing everything by hand. They are one of a small number of domaines changing the image of Irancy.
Having decided to make red wines, and being based in Chablis, Irancy was the obvious choice. A UNESCO World Heritage site since 2015, this natural amphitheatre of vineyards and cherry trees, influenced by the river Yonne and protected from the north wind, is a special micro-climate, allowing Pinot Noir to ripen fully. Even so, in the past, ripeness could be an issue, but today’s warmer seasons and better viticulture have given a consistency previously impossible. When he arrived in Chablis, Grégory’s first task was to taste as much as possible, and he mirrored this with his own project. Together with Delphine they tasted everything they could, visiting cellars and talking to locals. After this process they had identified several parcels they wanted to work with, and a like-minded grower to help them with viticulture. Their first vintage, tiny, was 2014. Grapes are harvested and sorted in the vineyard by hand. They use natural yeasts and open top fermenters, both wood and concrete, before transferring the wines to barrels, none of which are new. All of the wines are bottled with no filtration and a minimum of SO2.
2019, as elsewhere was warm and dry, and the wines are a little fuller and riper than in previous years, though there is certainly acidity. All three vineyards were harvested on the 21st of September. Grégory and Delphine aim to produce juicy and generous wines without sacrificing freshness or precision. This is a difficult balancing act, especially in a hot year, but in tasting the 2019s it has clearly been achieved. If you haven’t tasted Irancy before, or if you only know the wines of the past, I urge you to try these concentrated, deeply fruited wines which are at once recognisably Burgundian as well as distinctive in their own right.
William Kelley of The Wine Advocate recently visited to taste the 2019s, so I have included his notes alongside my own below. Since our original En Primeur release Gregory and Delphine have also released two new wines, an Aligoté, and a Sans Soufre, without Sulphur, wine – Version Libre. Full details below, but safe to say we are extremely excited by both wines. Sadly, quantities are low and we will have to allocate.
“As I’ve reported before, Maison de la Chapelle is the personal project of Grégory Viennois—technical director of Laroche—and his wife Delphine. Specializing in Irancy, these are rich, succulent reds, framed by powdery tannins and carrying an elegant patina from used oak barrels that situates them among the more contemporary expressions of the appellation. Their Irancy cuvées go from strength to strength, I’m happy to say, and they’re joined this year by a terrific cuvée of Aligoté. Everything reviewed here comes recommended.”William Kelley, Wine Advocate August 2021
We will ship these wines to the UK in October 2021, and they will be available for delivery in November 2021.
Bourgogne Aligoté 2020
From two separate vineyards in the small village of Chitry le Fort, between Chablis and Irancy on beautiful Kimmeridgian limestone terroir. One site is a stony slope, littered with pebbles, while the second site comes from the Yonne’s limestone plateau. Aged in tank with no oak at all. It’s a weightless, crystalline wine with extremely pure stone fruit flavours and a real burst of saline minerality on the finish. Dry and racy it beautifully captures the variety. This will be perfect next summer. 3000 bottles produced.
“From two parcels in Chitry that are vinified in tank, the 2020 Bourgogne Aligoté bursts with aromas of crisp orchard fruit, honeysuckle and fresh bread. Medium to full-bodied, satiny and concentrated, it’s textural but chiseled, concluding with chalky grip. It’s a real success.”*
A blend of four climats, Paradis, Renouel, Beaux Monts and Bâtardes from vines aged between 30 and 50 years. Completely destemmed and 100% raised in old barrels. Bottled one week before tasting. Dark black cherry nose. Concentrated palate, stone fruit, black berries, good balancing acidity, firm tannins, and underneath everything a cool, mineral foundation. Very impressive in 2019, holds its shape into a long, persistent finish of cherry and rose
“Aromas of cherries, sweet berries, smoke, spices and petals preface the 2019 Irancy, a medium to full-bodied, lively and succulent wine that’s matured half in cement tank, half in wood. This has turned out very nicely.”*
Irancy Les Beaux Monts 2019
35-year-old vines planted on a steeply sloping south facing site, thin clay over Kimmeridgian limestone. 40% whole bunches. 3- & 4-year-old barrels. Les Beaux Monts is refined, beautifully textured and balanced, with coal dark, crunchy fruit. It is tightly structured, long and cool, with a pretty florality emerging on the finish.
“The 2019 Irancy Les Beaux Monts unwinds in the glass with notions of cherries and dark berries mingled with raw cocoa and warm spices. Medium to full-bodied, layered and nicely concentrated, with tangy acids and rich, powdery tannins, it concludes with a long, youthfully chewy finish. This year, the Beaux Monts was vinified with some 60% whole bunches.”*
Irancy Les Bâtardes 2019
30-year-old vines planted on a northwest facing slope. 40% whole bunches. 3- & 4-year-old barrels. This vineyard gives an ethereal wine with very little fat yet a huge sense of energy and life. Grégory says les Bâtardes produces tiny, concentrated grapes – he likened it to Chablis’s Montée de Tonnerre, but red! The sunny vintage has given the 2019 more body, as well as riper fruit – this isn’t as elegant as previous vintages. Hard to taste today, maybe the recent bottling. Shows some of its refined character on the finish – it’s so floral and pure.
“The 2019 Irancy Les Bâtardes is beautiful, bursting with aromas of dark berries, cherries, clove and dark chocolate. Medium to full-bodied, velvety and concentrated, it’s bright and gourmand, its refined tannins framing a generous core of fruit. This has turned out especially well.”*
Irancy Version Libre 2019
A blend of Beaux Monts and Bâtardes, made with out any sulphur at all. Otherwise this is made in the same way as the other single vineyard wines, 100% in older barrels. Bottled in October 2020 with no fining or filtration. Only 400 bottles and 100 magnums produced.
“If the words “this year we’ve made a sans soufre cuvée” are increasingly liable to strike terror into this wine critic’s heart, my fears were rapidly dispelled when I tasted the excellent 2019 Irancy Version Libre. Offering up expressive aromas of cherries, cassis, sweet spices, dark chocolate and rose petals, it’s medium to full-bodied, ample and charming, with lovely precision and length. It represents one barrel, blending Beaux Monts and Bâtardes.”*