- Burgundy, France
Lachaux's négociant project has its raison d'être in his Aligoté, a cuvée inspired by the wines of Domaine d'Auvenay, but its inception has given him the opportunity to purchase fruit from young growers seeking to improve their farming. "I know some of these contracts will be short-lived, as naturally many of my suppliers will want to make their own wines in due course," he tells me, "but in the meantime, I'm happy to have the opportunity to vinify some other appellations." With their distinctive labels, designed by his talented wife, Lachaux has clearly differentiated these from his domaine wines, something which I commend."
—William Kelley, Wine Advocate, January 2021
Charles Lachaux started his micro-négoce because of Aligoté. On several occasions, he had blind tasted d’Auvenay’s Aligoté Sous Châtelet alongside serious premier and grand cru chardonnays. Sometimes it trounced the other whites; sometimes it was a least in the same league —always, it was up there.
The Arnoux family owns Aligoté and used to bottle it. But at some point it was deemed unworthy and the grapes were sold off to négociants. Charles wanted to vinify those grapes again.
In addition to the Aligoté, the début for the Charles Lachaux label included five wines. Only the Aligoté is owned, and the fruit is purchased from friends with conscientious farming practices for the other wines. Incidentally, the label was designed by Charles’ wife Louise who is a graphic designer. The rose is for the couple’s eldest daughter Rose.
With one exception, there are no noteworthy differences in winemaking between the Charles Lachaux and Arnoux-Lachaux wines. The exception is ageing. The Charles Lachaux wines are bottled after a little less than a year as opposed to 18 months for the domaine wines. This difference does have an impact. The négoce wines are fruit-driven, caught before their stay in oak leaves noticeable patina —vins de soif. Of course, they’re still from Burgundy and can age. But the goal is immediate pleasure.
All the grapes are picked by the Lachaux team. All the wines, including the Aligoté, are pressed in a vertical press. Fermentations are with ambient yeasts. There are no additions of sulfur until after malo.
The reds are 100% whole cluster. Macerations are noteworthy for their brevity. In 2019, they range from 9 to 12 days. They are also noteworthy for their lack of extraction. All the reds in 2019 were punched down only twice by foot. There is a daily pump over. The reds were aged in older barrels with the exception of the Nuits Saint Georges 1er Cru les Boudots and the Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru les Suchots, each having one new Stockinger barrel, or 20% of the cuvées. Total sulfur at bottling ranges between 23 and 38ppm.
We remember telling William Kelley over lunch that we thought that with 2016, Charles had shot Arnoux-Lachaux straight into the very top tier of Burgundy. William chuckled and dismissed our hyperbole. He has since changed his mind. In the domaine’s vineyards, Charles has become the single most progressive vigneron in the region —no one had yet had the courage to try no till. In the winery, the crunch, precision, soul, and transparency of the wines, whether from the domaine or the négoce, is magical. - Paul Wasserman, Becky Wasserman and Co.
Photos from Paul Wasserman.