View from the cellar by John Gilman - Number Forty-Eight
Domaine Chandon de Briailles (Savigny-lès-Beaune)
François and Claude de Nicolay certainly had their share of challenges in 2012 and
2013, as not only was there all of the difficulties of the 2012 and 2013 vintages to contend with,
but on top of that, all the rain in the summer of 2013 pushed the small river in Savigny to
overflow its banks and one of the Chandon de Briailles cellars was flooded and barrels were
floating around until the waters subsided! François noted that they were lucky that there was
very little hail in Savigny in 2012 (the 2013 vintage was a completely different story and they
have lost a huge percentage of their crop in this coming year, with some vineyards so badly
damaged that they will not make any wine from them and there is a real question that of how
well the vines will recover from the damage in this coming year!) and the crop loads for the
Savigny wines were the best of the family's entire range in 2012. As is typical when I visit here in
November, some of the wines were still in barrel, while others were already racked and
assembled in tank for bottling in the spring, while a couple of the whites were already bottled in
September. Despite not every wine overly sanguine about being tasted at the time of my visit, it
was very clear that the 2012 vintage is a ringing success at Domaine Chandon de Briailles and
there are some stellar wines in the making in these cellars this year. I did not taste the domaine's
Bourgogne Rouge "Cuvée Louise” this year. The 2012 white wines from the de Nicolay family
are also excellent and cut in a quite forward and accessible style that will make them delicious to
drink right out of the blocks, but also with the requisite framing acids and balance to age long
and gracefully as well. They possess the concentration of the low yields of the vintage, but are
not overly concentrated and are really quite classic examples of their respective appellations. I
would think that they are quite similar to the domaine's 1992 whites (which I have tasted
recently, but did not have in their youth) with perhaps a bit more depth and transparency. They
are a very strong set of wines as well, though far more forward in style than the Chandon de
Briailles reds in 2012.
2012 Pernand-Vergelesses "Ile de Vergelesses” Blanc- Dom. Chandon de Briailles
The 2102 Ile de Vergelesses Blanc had already been bottled in September of 2013 and
the wine was showing very well at the time of my visit. This is a deep, bright and perfectly
balanced example of the vintage, wafting from the glass in a ripe and refined blend of quince,
tangerine, beeswax, chalky soil tones, spring flowers and a discreet base of vanillin oak. On the
palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and nicely concentrated (but certainly not overly so!), with
lovely focus and balance, bright, framing acids and excellent length and grip on the fresh and
vibrant finish. This will drink very, very well in its youth, but is balanced well enough to age as
long as self-control may last. 2014-2025+. 90+.
2012 Corton Blanc- Domaine Chandon de Briailles
The 2012 Corton Blanc is another concentrated, wide open and very classy example of
the vintage that is going to be very hard not to drink in its youth! The deep, complex and very
classy nose soars from the glass in a blend of pear, peach, clementine, lovely soil tones, crème
patissière, orange blossoms and a touch of vanillin oak. On the palate the wine is deep, fullbodied
and very pure on the attack, with superb complexity, a succulent core, fine acidity and a
lovely sense of backend minerality that almost vibrates on the long and perfectly focused finish.
Fine juice and really tasty out of the blocks! 2014-2025+. 92.
2012 Corton-Charlemagne- Domaine Chandon de Briailles
The domaine's 2012 Corton-Charlemagne is also quite forward in this vintage, but with
stunning mineral drive, impeccable balance and plenty of ripe acidity to also carry it far down
the road. But, it is going to be very, very hard not to want to drink this stellar wine in its relative
youth, as it is complex and wide open for business right out of the blocks! The brilliant nose
delivers a very complex blend of apple, pear, deep and complex chalkiness, a nice touch of pink
grapefruit, dried flowers, citrus zest and a gentle base of vanillin oak. On the palate the wine is
pure, full-bodied and beautifully delineated, with bottomless depth, sound, framing acids and
laser-like focus and great grip on the very, very long, soil-driven and simply delicious finish.
Great juice! 2014-2030. 94.
2012 Savigny-lès-Beaune "les Saucours”- Domaine Chandon de Briailles
The 2012 les Saucours is going to be a really lovely village wine. This was already
assembled in tank, but was showing very well in its complex aromatic mix of black cherries, a
touch of dark berry, cocoa, woodsmoke, Savigny spice tones, incipient gamebirds and a lovely
base of soil. On the palate the wine is pure, full-bodied and quite ample on the attack, with lovely
focus and purity, modest tannins and excellent length and grip. This should drink well from an
early age. 2017-2035. 89-90.
2012 Savigny-lès-Beaune "Fournaux”- Domaine Chandon de Briailles
The 2012 Fournaux from Chandon de Briailles was still in barrel at the time of my visit
and was really singing. The deep and utterly superb nose jumps from the glass in a complex
blend of black cherries, dark berries, gamebirds, Savigny spices, a lovely base of dark soil,
woodsmoke, currant leaf and a hint of the gamebirds to come with further bottle age. On the
palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, pure and very suave on the attack, with a sappy core of fruit,
moderate, ripe tannins and a very, very long, beautifully balanced finish. Fine, fine juice. 2019-
2012 Savigny-lès-Beaune "les Lavières”- Domaine Chandon de Briailles
The 2012 Savigny-lès-Beaune "les Lavières” from Domaine Chandon de Briailles was
also still in barrel and was really showing brilliant potential. The deep, pure and utterly refined
bouquet is a blend of black cherries, red currants, woodsmoke, a beautifully complex base of
minerality, vinesmoke, a nice touch of spices from the stems, incipient notes of both orange peel
and coffee and a topnote of raw cocoa. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, pure and quite
sappy at the core, with great focus and balance, fine-grained tannins and outstanding length and
grip on the nascently complex and very, very transparent finish. Great wine. 2020-2050+. 93+.
2012 Pernand-Vergelesses "les Vergelesses”- Domaine Chandon de Briailles
The 2012 les Vergelesses had already been assembled into tank prior to my visit, but the
wine was showing just fine and is clearly going to be lovely. The classic nose delivers scents of
dark berries, black cherries, coffee bean, incipient notes of venison, iron-infused soil tones,
woodsmoke and a spicy topnote. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and very soil-driven
in personality, with a lovely core of pure fruit, ripe tannins and a long, focused and tangy finish.
A fine example. 2018-2035+. 91+.
2012 Pernand-Vergelesses "Ile de Vergelesses”- Domaine Chandon de Briailles
The 2012 Ile de Vergelesses was still in barrel and was really singing in November,
jumping from the glass in a complex aromatic mélange of red and black cherries, currant leaf,
woodsmoke, a nice touch of youthful stems, iron-like soil tones, gamebirds and exotic spices
tones of cardamom and allspice. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, young and even
more defined by its terroir than the lovely les Vergelesses, with a rock solid core, suave, chewy
tannins, bright acids and beautiful focus and grip on the very, very long, classic finish. Great
potential. 2020-2060. 93+.
2012 Aloxe-Corton "les Valozières”- Domaine Chandon de Briailles
The 2012 Aloxe-Corton "les Valozières” was still in barrel at the time of our visit, and
though this wine is going to be lovely, it did suffer a bit having to follow on the heels of the
stellar Ile de Vergelesses! The bouquet is bright, pure and quite vibrant in its mélange of red and
black cherries, woodsmoke, a bit of game, lovely spice tones and a fine base of soil. On the
palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and nicely broad-shouldered, with a good core, ripe, chewy
tannins and lovely length and grip on the focused finish. This is not the most refined of terroirs and there is a bit of chunkiness to the wine, but it is also a very good bottle in the making that
may have shown even better if served a bit earlier in the lineup! 2019-2035. 89.
2012 Corton "Maréchaudes”- Domaine Chandon de Briailles
The 2012 Corton "Maréchaudes” from the de Nicolay family had already been
assembled into tank prior to my visit, but the wine was showing lovely potential. The complex
and very classy nose wafts from the glass in a blend of red and black cherries, a bit of roasted
venison, cocoa, woodsmoke, dark soil tones, a touch of youthful stems and a very stylish and
gentle underpinning of Corton spice tones. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and
complex, with a fien core, very suave tannins, lovely focus and balance and a long, pure and
classy finish. This is going to be very high class juice! 2020-2055. 92-94.
2012 Corton "Bressandes”- Domaine Chandon de Briailles
The domaine's Bressandes was still in barrel and absolutely singing at the time of my
visit. The gorgeous bouquet is a complex and very pure blend of red and black cherries,
gamebirds, Asian spices, iron-like soil tones, coffee, woodsmoke, cocoa and a touch of fresh
nutmeg in the upper register. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, pure on the attack and
very stony in its soil profile, with a sappy core, superb transparency, ripe, well-integrated tannins
and simply stunning length and grip on the young and very, very refined finish. A great bottle of
Corton in the making! 2022-2060. 95.
2012 Corton "Clos du Roi”- Domaine Chandon de Briailles
The 2012 Clos du Roi had already been racked into tank, but it was clearly the star of this
superb lineup this year! The great nose soars from the glass in a mix of red and black plums,
cherries, cocoa, a very, very complex base of soil, raw cocoa, gamebirds, woodsmoke and a nice
touch of violets in the upper register. On the palate the wine is pure, full-bodied and rock solid at
the core, with a superb synthesis of transparency and sappy fruit, very refined, substantial tannins
and outstanding length and grip on the nascently complex, very classic finish. A great wine in the
making. 2022-2065. 95-96.