avier Durand began his winemaking career in style. His first vintage after taking on the family domaine in Comblanchien was the highly acclaimed 2009. He got rid of all rented vines, concentrating on the seven hectares of owned vines.
– The domaine dates back to my grandfather Alexis, says Xavier Durand. He bought the vines in the Côte de Nuits-Villages, the Bourgogne and the Ladoix appellations. Then my father René added the Corton in 1984 and the Aloxe-Corton in 1985.
Despite being located right in the middle of the Côte d'Or this is a relatively unknown village. Comblanchien and its two neighbours – Prémeaux-Prissey to the north and Corgoloin to the north – form the southern end of the Côte de Nuits. None of them has an appellation of its own. While Prémeaux-Prissey is the home of some of the Nuits-Saint-Georges premier crus – most notably the Clos de la Maréchale – the other two villages have to share the Côte de Nuits-Villages appellation with two villages at the top of the Côte de Nuits – Fixin and Brochon.
– Since I took on the domaine in 2009 I have added some Nuits-Saint-Georges. It's village appellation, in Les Charmois, just behind the village, says Xavier Durand. I have also bought some more Aloxe-Corton, this time in Les Chaillots, which is just below Chateau d'Aloxe-Corton. I have also made a lot of investments, I have been buying a lot of new equipment. For example, I am now working by gravity.
The vineyards of Domaine Xavier Durand are located along a eleven kilometre stretch of the Côte d'Or. From Aloxe-Corton in the south to Nuits-Saint-Georges in the north; in-between are Ladoix-Serrigny, Corgoloin, Comblanchien and Prémeaux-Prissey.
– Côte de Nuits-Villages is my largest appellation. In total I have 2.75 hectares of it planted with pinot noir. Part of it is sélection massale and part of it sélection clonale. The soil is very calcareous here. Very heavy and hard. I blend all of it into a single cuvée.
The parcel in question is located at the northern end of Comblanchien, in a lieu-dit called Saint-Seine. Just across the Comblanchien/Prémeaux-Prissey border, only some hundred metres away, is the Nuits-Saint-Georges premier cru Clos de la Maréchale.
Despite being one of the lesser-known appellation of the Côte d'Or Xavier Durand does not find it difficult to sell. Lesser-known means a lower price, creating a, as he puts it, more honest price/quality ratio.
For the time being Domaine Xavier Durand is red. There is some Bourgogne Aligoté, but the rest of the production is red wine. In the coming years more white wine will be added. Chardonnay vines have, or will be, planted in the Ladoix, Côte de Nuits-Villages and Bourgogne appellations.
– I only use barrels for my wines, with a maximum of 25 per cent new oak, explains Xavier Durand. All rest on its lees up until bottling. No filtration, just clarification. I normally use my barrels for four or five wines. I don't like it when the oak hides the wine. New barrels works in an appellation like Aloxe-Corton, where you in general have wines which are harder. For these wines I use 25 per cent new oak.
– In the vineyard I have a traditional approach. I work along the lutte raisonnée principles. I plough five or six times a year. I use some treatments from February to April, then I stop. I train the vines quite high in order to increase the number of leaves that are exposed to the sun.
Domaine Xavier Durand makes two Aloxe-Corton cuvées, both from village appellation. One straight Aloxe-Corton and one Aloxe-Corton, Les Chaillots.
– The Aloxe-Corton comes from Les Boutières, says Xavier Durand. It's the southern tip of the Aloxe-Corton appellation, just by the Chorey-lès-Beaune border. This and Les Chaillots are two very different parcels. Les Boutières is marly clay, quite deep, heavy soil. Les Chaillots below the Chateau, and right next to the premier cru Les Valoziéres, has more red soil. There is more substance. The tannins are finer.
– Aloxe-Corton is a very good appellation. But you have to choose the parcels carefully. You have the Corton hill which have a lot of gullies which take all the water.
– Then if you compare with my Nuits-Saint-Georges, Les Charmois, the Aloxe-Corton wines are very different. In Aloxe-Corton the soil is heavy, with clay. In Les Charmois the soil is lighter; there is more sand. The wine is softer, more supple.
The vines at Domaine Xavier Durand are between 35 and 80 years old. All wines are vinified exactly the same way, from the generic Bourgogne rouge up to the grand cru Corton Rognet. The Rognet part of the Corton hill is in the commune of Ladoix-Serrigny, just north of Corton Les Renardes. The domaine has no premier crus.
The red Ladoix, from the village appellation, is a blend of different parcels. La Rangie and a couple more below Les Gréchons, not very far from Corton Rognet. It's also from here that he will have his white Ladoix.
© 2012 Ola Bergman