It modern times, negotiants have increasingly been seen as imposters in Burgundy. As small famous estate names have increasingly taken all the kudos, the negotiants, long the backbone of the region, have increasingly fallen into the shadows. The underlying concept has been that a small producer would give more love and attention in the vineyards and cellar as well as often bottling wines from small parcels that can best showcase a micro-terroir. But as anyone who drinks a bit of Burgundy knows, there are many underperforming estates as well as negociants.
But today Burgundy has bigger problems – price. Those tiny estates, some with only mediocre quality, have now become wines that are out of reach for only a tiny proportion of wine consumers with the best negociants increasingly coming back into fashion. The key though to the best negociants is their focus on growing fruit first, then winemaking, which provides full control to maximise quality.
Domaine Chanson is in this category and, while always dependable, has in recent years moved up a couple of rungs in terms of quality, in part thanks to its purchase by the owners of Bollinger in 1999. They have made changes across the board, one of which has been the installation of a purpose built tunnel that cools fruit post harvest down to between five and seven degrees in seconds, which is particularly useful for Pinot Noir before a ten to twelve day cold soak. Chanson’s significant ownership in one of Burgundy’s most undervalued villages, Beaune, certainly also helps their cause to craft quality wines at reasonable prices
While 2020 was a warm vintage in Burgundy, the top wines from Chanson have kept their shape and typicity which is delivered in quite powerful and expressive packages. It also seems to be a significant step up in quality on 2019.
Domain Chanson Savigny-lès-Beaune Hauts Marconnets 1er Cru 2020
$120 – Drink 2022-2030
This attractive Chardonnay is already drinking well with a good volume of fruit – citrus, and melon aromas coming together with quite generous nougat and vanillin oak providing immediate appeal. Fleshy nectarine and floral flavours are then delivered in an open-knit style with a fresh acid bite providing definition and length to enjoy over the medium term.
Domain Chanson Beaune Hauts Clos des Mouches 1er Cru 2020
$250 – Drink 2025-2033
Very impressive and quite classic in style although definitely on the richer end of the spectrum with cashew and melon wrapped up in a thick blanket of oak that is quite well integrated, although that will improve in time. Impressive flavour focus follows with a silky, textural palate underlined by a zesty backbone of acidity which drives a long, sustained finish. Best years are ahead when the oak has come back a touch.
Domain Chanson Beaune Greves 1er Cru 2020
$140 – Drink 2026-2035
Here we have quite a young and tight Pinot that is not yet ready to enjoy although there is already a delicious delicacy on show. It’s pretty and ethereal thanks to layers of rose petal and spice just staring to emerge backed by dark beetroot aromas. A mid-weight, sinewy mouthfeel with layers of meat and spicy flavour follow and showing all the hallmarks of a wine that will age very well, particularly its exceptional length. Give it time.
Domain Chanson Beaune Clos du Roi 1er Cru 2020
$130 – Drink 2022-2033
The colour that Chanson get out of Pinot Noir is very impressive and the long cold soak certainly gives these wines some real density and power yet without losing delicacy. This wine radiates with raspberry conserve, violets, spice and dark earthy tones with toasty oak in support. A mouth filling palate follows, fleshy and rich with strong dark berry and earthy undertones before delivering a powerful, firm finish. It’s young and will flower beautifully over the next decade but also offers a hedonistic Pinot experience right now for an Australian Pinot palate.