2017 Domaine Berthelemot Beaune 1er Cru Clos des Mouches Rouge
Burgundy’s Napoleonic inheritance laws are in effect to this day. That’s one reason Burgundy gets so confusing so quickly – when Dad, or Mom, retires, the family holdings must be equally split among their children. This gives rise to lots of wineries with the same last name: the LeClercs in Gevrey, the Collins in Chassagne, the Moreys – all 32 different families across the Cote d’Or, etc.
But here’s a story of a domaine that reverses the equation, and all the better for us – and them.
Brigitte Berthelemot, a native of Burgundy, is a passionate wine lover who all her life dreamed of owning an estate among the vines of her childhood. This did indeed happen when a very small parcel of family holdings passed into her hands about 13 years ago.
And then Fate intervened. Two other family-friend domaines (Darviot and Garaudet) suffered collapse almost as soon as Brigitte set up shop. Suffered collapse isn’t quite accurate. To my understanding, they were caught in a now-somewhat-regular Burgundy crucible- no inheritor to take the mantel, sort the legal stuff and pay the taxes. But also not wanting to dump generations of winemaking into le toilette. Brigitte stepped in to help out and consolidated all three domaines into one.
She kept on the longstanding winemaker of Darviot, Marc Cugney, and Jean Garaudet still fondly works the vineyards. Brigitte is working towards biodynamic practices and has built a state-of-the-art winery outside of Meursault. She is one busy and astute woman.
But why on earth does all of this matter to us? Two reasons – one, she’s making delectable Burgundy; and two, she’s doing it on the cheap. Our example today is the Premier Cru Clos des Mouches, the vineyard of the apiarists, and it’s outstanding:
A beautiful raspberry fruit note opens up the nose in all its pure glory. Clos des Mouches, so named because the vineyard was once also used by beekeepers, is arguably a Grand Cru in all but name. This outcropping of clay and limestone soil has the perfect aspect to ripen Pinot Noir to Burgundian perfection – the cool raspberry character is joined by notes of savory underbrush, morel mushrooms roasted in butter and veal stock reduction. It is a perfect harmony of fruit and savory elements. It is from the 2017 vintage, a great and classic year in Burgundy, and that shows in the bottle. While it drinks well now – though I’d argue for at least a 30-minute decant—it will also make glorious old bones in your cellar. I estimate it will make at least three decades or more.
The vineyard of Clos de Mouches, and its resulting wines, almost never come cheap. Every single one of her neighbors is charging at least three times this price! Yet thanks to Brigitte’s guiding hand, we’re sitting on a Burgundy goldmine. You, and your future self, will appreciate a generous purchase.