Pierre Chapuis at Domaine Chapuis in Aloxe-Corton, Burgundy.

orton-Languettes is a rare wine. One of the few who still produce this grand cru is Domaine Chapuis in Aloxe-Corton. Over the years most owners here have replanted, with a change of appellation as a result. This part of the Corton hill produces Corton-Languettes when planted with pinot noir, but Corton-Charlemagne when planted with chardonnay.

– There are only two domaines who make Corton-Languettes, says Pierre Chapuis at Domaine Chapuis. There is us and there is Domaine Louis Lequin in Santenay. Traditional Corton is more structured, more powerful. Languettes is more about finesse. Tasted blind people often find it difficult to tell what it is.

Pierre Chapuis is part of the new generation at Domaine Chapuis. His first vintage was in 2018 and he has since been joined by his sister Claire on the commercial side of the domaine. Their parents – Anne-Marie and Maurice – are still working, even if the latter technically has retired.

Corton-Languettes and Corton-Perrières in Aloxe-Corton, Burgundy.– What’s interesting is that our Corton-Languettes parcel is just five metres away from our Corton-Perrières parcel, continues Pierre Chapuis. Despite being so close the two wines are distinctly different in character. The soil in Corton-Languettes is limestone and marl, while there is very little soil in Corton-Perrières. There is no marl in Corton-Perrières, which is an old quarry.

– Both are vinified in the same manner. But Corton-Perrières has much more tannins. It is more well-built and it is a wine for laying down. 20 years in a good vintage. Corton-Languettes on the other hand can be drunk much younger.

Corton-Pougets, Aloxe-Corton, Burgundy.Domaine Chapuis has all its vineyards – a total of ten and a half hectares – in Aloxe-Corton or in one of the neighbouring villages. When it comes to the work at the domaine there has been a few changes since the arrival of Pierre.

– 2018 was the first year we were using only gravity when bringing in the grapes, he explains. In the winery everything is done by gravity today. My dad used to have a pump for moving the grapes into the tanks. That has changed. There is also less extraction of tannins. The wines are already quite tannic, so we are trying to make them a bit more supple and elegant. It’s more fruit, less tannins. Just around ten per cent of new oak. A little bit more for the grand crus.

– In the vineyards we have begun employing a different pruning system. In some parcels we are experimenting with the Guyot-Poussard system. It makes it easier for the sap to flow within the vine.

Aloxe-Corton premier cru Les Vercots, Burgundy.The third red grand cru from the Corton hill at Domaine Chapuis is the recently replanted Corton-Chaumes. The vines are still very young, just six years. Compared with Bressandes or Perrières this is a slightly lighter wine, easier to drink young.

Aloxe-Corton, Burgundy.– In white there is our Corton-Charlemagne, says Pierre Chapuis. We have three parcels – Languettes, Pougets and Charlemagne. Languettes is facing straight east. Pougets and Charlemagne are facing straight south, which is the best exposure in the Corton-Charlemagne area.

It was Pierre Chapuis’ great-grandfather, also called Maurice, who bought the Corton-Languettes. It was a very different time when it came to the price of the land. To begin with the parcel was sold just before harvest, meaning the whole crop was included. And already after the harvest the following year Maurice Chapuis had broke even financially. In a little more than one year he had made enough profit from the vineyard to cover what he had paid for it.

The oldest part of the cellars at Domaine Chapuis dates back to the 14th century. The house itself was built in 1735 and where it sits in front of the premier cru Clos du Chapitre in the middle of the village it is not far from the three parcels that make up the Aloxe-Corton premier cru blend of the domaine. West of the village you have Les Guérets and Les Vercots. North-east of the village you have Les Valozières. They are vinified separately and then blended before bottling.

Corton-Languetts, Aloxe-Corton, Burgundy.– Les Guérets and Les Vercots are both very powerful, says Pierre Chapuis. Les Valozières is just below Corton-Bressandes. It brings a very welcome finesse to the blend. Together the three make a wine which has a very nice balance.

Up until 2017 the blend also included almost a quarter of Les Fournières. Currently the proportions are slightly more than two fifths of Les Vercots and Les Valozières respectively. The remaining 15 per cent are Les Guérets.

Pierre Chapuis at Domaine Chapuis in Aloxe-Corton, Burgundy.– Les Vercots is a peculiar premier cru in the sense that it is flat. It’s in the middle of the village appellation and you have a flat island which is classified as premier cru.

Just behind the domaine is Les Caillettes. Together with another four lieux-dits this is was produces the village appellation Aloxe-Corton of the domaine.

– We have parcels in Les Valozières (village appellation), Les Morais, Les Bryères, Les Brunettes and Les Caillettes, says Pierre Chapuis. All of the lower parts of Aloxe-Corton is very humid. It’s not the same type of soil across the appellation. Some parts are more about finesse, other more about power. Les Caillettes is more delicate, but lacks in power. When you blend with Les Valozières and Les Brunettes you get a much more balanced wine.

Domaine Chapuis produces Chorey-lès-Beaune, but only in white. The appellation is mainly a red appellation. Chardonnay only makes up a mere four per cent of the total production.

– We have always only made white Chorey-lès-Beaune. Already my grandfather did it, even if the appellation Chorey-lès-Beaune did not exist back then. The vines are between four and 60 years old and you’ll find them in Petits Champs Longs, Tue-Boeuf and Les Grandes Rèpes.

© 2020 Ola Bergman