2016 Domaine des Valanges Saint Veran Les Cras

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The commune of Davayé is located in the southern part of Burgundy, in the heart of the Mâcon wine country near Cluny and west of Mâcon.  This small winegrowing village is nestled at the foot of the Roche de Solutré and the Roche de Vergisson.

The beautiful view of steep slopes from Les Valanges is like a picture post card of the Mâcon region.

Domaine Valanges was created in 1980.  At the time, all the vineyards were in the commune of Davayé, and totalled 2.5 hectares.  For the last 30+ years they have worked tirelessly to expand the estate.  In addition to this they have also built a new facility where the wine is made, stored, and prepared for shipment, which also houses a barrel cellar.

Little by little, they acquired several plots with just the right terroir, and the vineyards now cover 11 hectares in Davayé, of which 8 are entitled to the Saint Véran appellation.

The family has always been passionately attached to this land, faithful to the terroir, and committed to making unique wines from the limestone soil.

Their 11 hectares of vines are located halfway up the slope in climats, or vineyard sites, that are among the best in the Mâcon region.

Sun exposure is south by south-east and the soil in all instances clay-limestone (mostly limestone).  Most of the vines grow at an altitude of 200-300 metres.

This terroir is wonderful for Chardonnay, producing very expressive, mineral, floral wines with a great deal of fruit.

Domaine des Valanges has always tended my vines in a spirit of respect for the environment, and in view of making fine wine.

The focus here is on traditional methods that reflect the terroir in order to produce wines of character.  Furthermore, they feel it is important to let the vines find a natural equilibrium within their ecosystem. Therefore they intervene as little as possible in both viticulture and winemaking to retain each cuvée’s personality, as well as vintage character.

They decided to introduce supervised pest control based on observation, reflection, respect for the terroir and environmental protection.  They also do their utmost to obtain the best from each vine, also thinking about keeping the soil healthy and alive by ploughing and adding organic fertilizer only as necessary.

The quintessence of Chardonnay, the Domaine Valanges wines reflect differences in soil, sun exposure, microclimate, etc. in the various vineyard plots from which they are produced.  It is still fun for Mathieu and Camille Paquet, the sons of Michel Paquetto to study the unique personality of each plot and each terroir. After spending many years acquiring an intimate knowledge of the domaine, blending wines with different characteristics, and experimenting with several winemaking methods, they have learned a fundamental lesson: there is no such thing as luck when it comes to making great wine, or a successful blend. Straightforward, well-focused, mineral, and expressive wines can only result from a harmonious marriage between wine from different plots.

The 2013 vintage was another difficult year in Burgundy and although they had a series of challenges throughout the growing season some are claiming to have made some very good wines like this Macon wine from Domaine Valanges.  Here is what the world’s leading authority Clive Coates had to say about the 2013 vintage in Burgundy:  “Spring, as I have already reported, was damp, cold and miserable. The sortie of potential bunches was already diminished as a result of poor weather conditions in 2012, and further reduced by the bad 2013 spring. There was much millerandage. The crop was then affected by a devastating hail storm on July 23rd. This particularly hit the vineyards from Pernand-Vergelesses, through Savigny-Lès-Beaune and Beaune itself, and down into Pommard, Volnay and Meursault. Here some domaines have lost 90 percent of their harvest. Elsewhere the crop is 30 percent less than the average.

The weather did not start to improve until the beginning of July. This month the sun shone and it was even quite hot from time to time. August was also largely fine, though colder at night. Once we got to September conditions began to deteriorate, with cool, wet days at the beginning of the month, followed by mainly dry but merely bright rather than sunny days through to the end of the month.

The poor start to the season indicated a late harvest, and this is what ensued. Today we normally start picking around September 10th. In 2013 nothing was ready, even in the Beaujolais, until the last week of the month. A few brave souls started to collect some Chardonnays on Tuesday September 25th. Most waited until the following week-end. The Mâconnais and Chablis began picking at the same time as the Cöte d'Or. Even then the Pinots were not ripe. These did not arrive at full maturity until the first week-end of October. Laurent Ponsot, always late to commit himself, began on Wednesday October 9th. Some growers were still in their vineyards 10 days later.

The fine weather in July and August has done much to compensate for the cool, wet spring. First reports, cautious as always, are quite positive, even quite enthusiastic (if we separate out the question of yield) about the red wines. This is particularly marked in the Côte de Nuits and in the communes to the north of that section such as Chambolle and Gevrey. It seems that here the precipitation in the weeks leading up to the vendange was at its lowest. It often has been, for some reason, in recent years. We may see some surprisingly good wines here. Throughout, but especially vital this year, has been the need to sort out the good from the bad on the tables de tri. One important domaine, not known for its exaggeration, mentioned 2010. Acidities are high, but if the wines are concentrated this is no bad thing. Opinions on the whites indicate a lower level of quality. Some fear that acidities are too high. The fruit, reports suggest, lacks real richness and depth. On both sides growers will tell you that the wines get better and better as one climbs the hierarchy. But that is also something one often sees is difficult vintages.

So we will see. It is far to early either to acclaim this vintage or to suggest that it is a write-off. One thing we do know, however, is that there will be little of it. And that is bound to be reflected in the prices.”  - Clive Coates

This cuvée is a blend of wine made from thirty years old vines on various slopes in the commune of Davaye in the following climats (vineyards sites): Les Valanges, Les Carettes, Les Terres-Noires and Les Creches. The Vineyards plots face south by south-east and north-east. The terroir is clay limestone with a high percentage of fairly lean limestone soil. The vines grow on the middle of the Solutre and Vergisson Slopes.


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