Clos de la Perrière
- Côte de Nuits, Fixin, Burgundy, France
”Wines from Clos de la Perrière were, for generations, regarded among the greatest of all Burgundy; only Chambertin and Clos de Bèze held the same status.” – Bill Nanson, The Finest Wines of Burgundy.
“…I visited Clos de la Perrière, the most famous but long-overlooked vineyard in Fixin (Clos de la Perrière), just north of Gevrey-Chambertin. This is clearly a very special vineyard (from which you can see the outskirts of Dijon, so high is it) and the current incumbent Bénigne Joliet is clearly out to prove that his monopole, the walled Clos de la Perrière, may be under-estimated at its current premier cru status.” - Jancis Robinson, JancisRobinson.com, August 2012.
Clos de la Perrière is an exceptional place and Bénigne Joliet has made it his life's mission to make wines from this site reflect the historied and special terroir. The Cistercian monks valued the Clos de la Perrière as a top site in all of Burgundy and Joliet continues to make wines in the same cellar built by the monks in 1142. The historic, vaulted cellar contains an enormous vertical press, also from 1142, which Joliet’s grandfather used until 1959.
Bénigne Joliet’s family purchased the Clos de la Perrière in 1853, making Bénigne the sixth generation to own the five-hectare monopole domaine in Fixin. Because of the inheritance laws in France, the vineyard was fragmented among his ancestors over the years. His great grandfather and grandfather used to sell off the grapes and juice. In recent history, his father was the first to bottle under the domaine name in the 1970’s. His father made wine in the same way every year and did not account for vintage variances, so the quality fluctuated. Bénigne worked with his father for ten years and in 2004 came to the conclusion that he wanted to purchase back the entire Clos from his family (aunts, uncles, and cousins) with the goal of making the Clos de la Perrière a reverential wine once again.
The Clos de la Perrière has a truly magical feel to it and a special microclimate. It’s at the same elevation as Echézeaux and the top of the Clos de Vougeot. It sits at the top of the slope, above the village, just next to the forest. The five hectares are a true clos, surrounded entirely by a wall, with the chateau/winery at the northern border. The Clos de la Perrière has different soils and Joliet vinifies each separately. One area is very stony and rich in limestone, another has more clay, the third area has a mix of clay and limestone and then the area near the woods at the top of the slope is cooler than the rest of the vineyard. The oldest vines are nearly a hundred years old and overall the average is about fifty.
Joliet farms organically, although he has not sought certification. Flowers and grass grow between the vines and the prunings are left on the ground to add to the humus. In the cellar, Joliet uses partial whole clusters for fermentation depending on the vintage and the primary fermentation happens spontaneously in stainless steel. The wines are then moved to age in the same vaulted cellar that was built by the monks. The amount of new oak varies depending on the vintage and the amount has been reduced steadily since 2005. The wines are not forced and undergo malolactic fermentation at their own pace. As mentioned earlier, Joliet vinifies by parcel and each terroir gives it’s own distinct impressions. Each is interesting on it’s own, but the blend is like hearing a symphony instead of a solo. Joliet treats his vineyards as his own private garden and feels that “it is really a privilege to live and make wine here at Clos de la Perrière.”