Aurélie Giraudon at Domaine Giraudon in Chitry-le-Fort, Burgundy.
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hat makes Chitry interesting is the fact that we have slopes facing both south and north. When you blend the two you get both freshness and body in the wine. Some might think it’s a pity not to make separate cuvées, but it’s always the blend which becomes the best.

Aurélie Giraudon runs Domaine Giraudon in Chitry-le-Fort, the home of one of Burgundy’s smallest and least known appellations – Bourgogne Chitry. It is a regional appellation which comes in both red and white, but there is more chardonnay than pinot noir planted.

– For most of the growers in the village the white Chitry is the main wine, she says. We are a bit different since we produce more red Chitry than the average domaine.

Chitry-les-Fort, Burgundy.Chitry-le-Fort is a small village southeast of Chablis, perhaps best known for its peculiar fortified church. It is a 15-minute drive between the two villages and it will take you just outside the Chablis appellation. Due to the proximity most domaines in Chitry-le-Fort have at least one Chablis in their portfolio.

– 20 years ago the Chablis was used as a way to have people come taste the Chitry wines, explains Aurélie Giraudon. That is no longer the case. We are not looking for more Chablis to produce. The Chablis is not the flagship of the domaine. Our most important appellations are the Bourgogne Aligoté and the Chitry in red and white.

The Chablis comes from a parcel near Beine, six kilometres west of Chablis. There is a small lake and across the road is the premier cru Vau de Vey, where also the parcel of village Chablis of Domaine Giraudon is located.

Chitry-les-Fort, Burgundy.– All growers in Chitry have something like one hectare of Chablis, allowing them to offer a broader range, explains Aurélie Giraudon. Buying land in Chitry is much easier than in Chablis, where prices are higher.

While Chablis is a gigantic appellation covering around 4000 hectares, Bourgogne Chitry is tiny. There is just 42 hectares in white and 40 hectares in red. To make supply even more scarce about half of the pinot noir is sold to the local cooperative in Bailly where it is blended with grapes from other villages and labelled as Bourgogne rouge. For the coming five years the growers of the appellation plan to plant another 20 hectares of Bourgogne Chitry.

Chitry-les-Fort, Burgundy.– Around the village there still remains something like 160 hectares which could be planted, continues Aurélie Giraudon. It is mainly the growers in the village who owns the vineyards here. It has changed a bit the last few years when growers without anyone to take on the domaines have retired. In those cases they have sold the vineyards to growers in neighbouring villages like Saint-Cyr-les-Colons or Saint-Bris le Vineux.

– There is Domaine Pascal Henry in Saint-Cyr-les-Colons. You have Domaine Boivin in Quenne as well as Laurent Notton in Chichée, whose wife’s grandmother is from Chitry-le-Fort. In Courgis you have Olivier De Moor who also has some Chitry.

Aurélie Giraudon is running the domaine together with her brother Thibaut. Aurélie is mainly responsible for the cellar, while Thibaut is dealing with the vineyards. Their father Marcel is mainly occupying himself with the non-wine part of the estate, such as cereals and cherries.

Chitry-les-Fort, Burgundy.– The history of the domaine begins with my grandmother about 80 years ago, says Aurélie Giraudon. Like many domaines at the time it was a mix of wine, cereals, cherries and cattle. My grandparents planted the Chablis vineyard. My father arrived at the domaine in the 1970s and continued developing the vineyards. In the 1990s he began bottling. I arrived here in 2001 and my brother in 2004.

– For me it was a natural choice to become a winegrower. Our mother is a teacher, but I really wanted to work with this. For example, Véronique Vallenot, the oenologist, was a great source of inspiration. She was a pioneer in her field and she would come to our house for tastings.

Having obtained her oenology diploma Aurélie Giraudon returned to Chitry-le-Fort and the family domaine. The domaine covers 30 hectares. 25 hectares are in production. The remaining five hectares are either young vines or vineyards that have been uprooted.

Chitry-les-Fort, Burgundy.– We have seven hectares of aligoté, seven hectares of Chitry blanc, seven hectares of Chitry rouge and three and a half hectares of Chablis. The rest is Crémant de Bourgogne and a small plot of sacy, a grape variety which is on its way to disappear. The gamay we uprooted in 2016.

The seven hectares of aligoté are split between several parcels, all located in Chitry-le-Fort and mostly on slopes facing north or northeast. Aurélie Giraudon’s father planted a lot of aligoté so the average age of the vines is between 30 and 35 years.

– The vinication process, for all our wines, is traditional. Quite simple. We harvest parcel by parcel and we also vinify them separately. At the end, after tasting, we blend. Since we have limited space we bottle several times a year. Especially with the Chitry rouge we make different cuvées over the year. The first ones are usually lighter and with more fruit. Later in the year we have ones which require more time before they are ready to drink.

Aurélie Giraudon at Domaine Giraudon in Chitry-les-Fort, Burgundy.For the Chitry blanc they have chardonnay planted on five slopes. The soil is clay and limestone, white clay. The main parcel is on the very steep slope on your right as you enter the village from Courgis.

– With the chardonnay from the slopes facing north you get a wine with crisp, citrusy flavours. From the other slopes you get something which is richer and fatter, but sometimes a bit heavy. Chitry is known for its minerality. The wines keep well. Ten years plus for the best vintages.

At Domaine Giraudon there are no barrels. Aurélie Giraudon says her father was never particularly fond of them, and she has continued the tradition.

– I think we are the last ones to only use tanks for the Chitry blanc, she says. Everybody else use at least some barrels. We might give barrels a try one day, but for the moment I don’t think the wines need it. If you decide to bring in barrels you also need to change your approach. You need to choose the parcels carefully and you need to keep the character of the vintage in mind.

© 2018 Ola Bergman