omaine Felettig is the perfect example of how morcellated Burgundy can be. This Chambolle-Musigny estate has its 12.5 hectares spread out over 100 parcels.
– On village level we have two Chambolle-Musigny cuvées, says Gilbert Felettig. One of them really is a patchwork. The grapes come from 25–30 different plots, from the Morey-Saint-Denis side of Chambolle-Musigny all the way down to Vougeot.
Admittedly, on paper it looks worse. In reality some parcels are adjoining, making the number of parcels a bit lower. But there is still a large number of parcels to take care of.
– When you have many small parcels working organically becomes very difficult, especially if your neighbour is not, says Gilbert Felettig. Working organically also means you have to treat the vines quickly. In my case that means I have to drive the tractor a lot, moving from one parcel to another.
Gilbert Felettig describes the domaine as a quite recent creation. Run today by Gilbert and his sister Christine it was originally created in 1974 by their parents.
– My father started out as a vineyard worker here in the village, explains Gilbert Felettig. My grandmother had two small parcels of vines. My father started buying and renting vines. 60 per cent of our 12.5 hectares are rented and the rest is owned. I started working at the domaine when I was 18 years old.
Today Domaine Felettig covers many of the well-known villages on the Côte de Nuits – Gevrey-Chambertin, Vosne-Romanée, Nuits-Saint-Georges – but the focus is on Chambolle-Musigny. A large part of the domaine is made up of village Chambolle-Musigny and there is a hand-full of Chambolle-Musigny premier crus.
– For the village Chambolle-Musigny the soil changes depending on where you are. In Les Combottes, below the village (both premier cru and village), you are on the limestone base, with very little clay. On the Morey-Saint-Denis side the soil is deeper and stony. Throughout Chambolle-Musigny the soil is very varied. There is not one single type of soil. Even inside Les Combottes you have different types.
The other village Chambolle-Musigny cuvée comes from a single vineyard. Up behind the village, to the left as you have passed the church coming from Vougeot, is Clos le Village.
– This was the first parcel my father planted in 1974, says Gilbert Felettig. It is also our largest parcel, half a hectare. The soil is on limestone base, with 30 centimetres of clay and stones on top of it. It is the kind of soil which doesn’t give very high yields. For me this is a typical Chambolle-Musigny. The vineyard has an eastern exposure.
Domaine Felettig are the only ones to bottle the Chambolle-Musigny premier cru Les Carrières. It is not a monopole, but the other two owners – Sigaut and de Villamont – have holdings large enough for separate bottlings.
– It is a parcel my father bought in the 1980’s, says Gilbert Felettig. The vines are old. One part is 40 years, one part 50 years. We bottle all the premier crus separately, so the quantities are small, says Gilbert Felettig.
– Les Carrières is special in the sense that the soil is primarily composed of white marl. A bit like Les Cras and part of Bonnes Mares. It has a very special profile. Les Carrières always has a good maturity and a high acidity, similar to the Vosne-Romanée premier crus. It always has a very good balance.
Les Carrières is just below the Chambolle-Musigny, on the Morey-Saint-Denis side. Between the village and the grand cru Bonnes Mares you’ll find Les Fuées.
– Les Fuées is always very ripe too, says Gilbert Felettig. But the aromas are slightly heavier. It’s a more dense wine. We have two parcels in Les Fuées. This premier crus is the continuation of Bonnes Mares to the south. One of our parcels has whiter soil, the other one more reddish soil with stones. The two are very different in character. The young vines on the red soil on the Bonnes Mares side of Les Fuées bring the richness, the opulence. The older vines on the Les Cras side bring balance and acidity.
At Domaine Felettig the regional Bourgogne rouge sees ten per cent new oak. Village Chambolle-Musigny sees one third new oak, one third one year old barrels and one third two year old barrels. The premier crus see 50 per cent new oak and 50 per cent one year old barrels.
– Élevage is quite long here, says Gilbert Felettig. 14–15 months for the Bourgogne rouge. 16 months for village Chambolle-Musigny and 16–18 months for the premier crus. The malolactic fermentations are very slow.
Domaine Felettig bottle five different Chambolle-Musigny premier crus – Les Carrières, Les Fuées, Les Combottes, Les Feusselottes and Les Charmes. They have a few more, but they are sold off to négociants.
– Les Combottes is the one with the most finesse. It is a very good example of the Chambolle character, like the Clos le Village. It offers lots of delicacy. But working in the vineyard is difficult. There is only a thin layer of clay, 15–20 centimetres. Then there is the rock. The vines are old, 55 years old, and they have to fight for nutrients and moisture. Yields are always low.
– Like Les Combottes Les Charmes has lots of finesse, but with the structure and the precision of Les Carrières.
© 2012 Ola Bergman