Domaine Chandon de Briailles, Corton Blanc 2003-2014

I tasted with Claude, who with her brother François de Nicolay, manages the family domaine.

The Corton Blanc comes from two different terroir. The top part of Les Bressandes and two barrels from Les Chaumes, which is much lower and in the Aloxe area.

Prior to, and including, the 2010 vintage Corton Blanc included Les Renardes, which gave the minerality. Chandon de Briailles have the last parcel in Renardes before the boarder with Ladoix. This is now made separately as Corton-Charlemagne.

The Corton Blanc section of Bressandes (the upper part) was planted in Chardonnay by default. When Claude and Francois’s mother came to plant, the nursery had run out of Pinot Noir and suggested Chardonnay. This wine is a happy accident.

35 hl/ha is a normal crop. “Maybe because we de-bud a lot. My mother started like this and we continue,” remarks Claude.

“Picking date is very important. We do not like too much alcohol. 12.6 is maximum for us …riper than this and we do not like the style.”

The tasting revealed an interesting point. Despite the vintage variation the sugars and pHs are not that different, but the picking date is. (These are provided with each wine below).

Claude explains making the wine: “It is important to ferment very cold, not above 22 degrees. We have one cold deep cellar which is also humid. Here the fermentation is very slow.”

“We press with a pneumatic press, but in 2016 we bought a vertical press and want to press with this. So this may change the style. The vertical press will help to include more air. I like it because there is no turning and no strong action. I feel the pneumatic is stronger. I began by thinking it would be used more for red than white, but Francois wanted to try it for the whites and we experimented with the 2016 as we had so very little.”

“Contact with air is so important. Up to 2011 we racked with natural air and we are now racking with nitrogen, so this a difference. The must is gently oxidised without sulphur and has 24 hours settling with no sulphur in tank and some is then added just before barreling to select the right yeast. We use 20% new wood for Corton Blanc. One 600l barrel. 4 year old barrels for the main part.”

“The air contact right from the beginning works as a natural antibiotic.”

“1 year in barrel (the MLF starts pretty much immediately in January) then it’s racked to stainless steel in September and has 3 months to be bottled just before or after Christmas. No filtration or fining.”

“I make wine by feeling. I don’t know how to make whites. The less you touch them, the better. Best not to use oenology.”

“The whites are easier to vinify in a cooler year. When it’s a hot vintage we have to question the picking dates …to capture the right moment. In 2015 we picked on the 30th August. We had a great pH at 3.3 and 13.2% potential alcohol (versus 2014 at 12.8 degrees.) The biodynamics is very important for this as it helps with the acidity.”

Tasting Notes

*Corton, Blanc 2014
This has lively citrus notes, pear and floral too. Lifted. This is pure and straight and well defined on the palate. Very good intensity. Focus in the middle palate. Very good acidity. Lively long and mineral on the finish. Wonderful depth to this wine. A lovely harmony. The balance is just perfect. A very long finish. This needs at least 10 years and will age for 20. Exceptional. Score 19.25

Picked 16th September

Corton, Blanc 2013
This is a spicy on the nose with a touch of guava. Not at all rich, but the aromatics are spicy on the palate. Firm acidity in the middle and then much more savoury, mineral and fresh on the finish with some fennel notes. This tastes of a colder vintage. I would say leave this for 7 or 8 years. Score 18.2

3rd October. Very late picking.

*Corton, Blanc 2012
This has a tight, ripe and concentrated nose. Touch of cucumber. There is also a hint of anise and mint. The strike is rich and there is marked viscosity to the palate. Very concentrated and it has good acidity. It has a straight and deep palate and is a little like the 2014, but with more viscosity. The finish is salty and straight. Very long finish. I think this will age very well. I would age this for 10 years at least. It needs ageing. Score 18.85

Harvest 21st September for Bressandes and 23rd for Chaumes. 12.6% and pH 3.10 at picking and at bottling a pH of 3.3. 28 hl/ha.

Corton, Blanc 2011
This has a slight note of evolution, a little nutty and a touch of silex. This ripples easily on the palate. (Ripe apricot aroma in the empty glass). It is lovely now. Lighter for sure. Elegant and even. Very harmonious. Slightly sweet on the finish and then, at the end, a stoney note. Not as long as the 2012, or 2014 or even the 2013. It is in a ‘good place’. You could drink this soon – in a year or three. Score 17.75

35/hl per hectare. 3rd of September and 12.2 and pH 3.2 and after MLF it was 3.3

Note: Pre 2011 Renardes was included in the blend. Now it is kept separate and made as Corton-Charlemagne.

*Corton, Blanc 2010
The nose is very alluring with candied lemon and peach …and this opens to become more floral and blossomy. Very intense. This is juicy on the palate. There is richness and generosity, but so lively. A good combination of freshness and succulence. It has plenty of matter in the palate. A good density onto the finish and it straightens out to a wet stone finish. This is delicious. This will age very well. Wait for this wine. (The cellars here are very cold). Wait for another 5 years at least and will develop beautifully over at least another another 10. It is richer than the 2014, but as good. Score 19

12.6 picked pH 3.06. 3.3 after. 24th September.

25 hl/ha.

This was racked with air…

*Corton, Blanc 2009
This has a touch of chestnut on the nose. It is certainly ripe. Slightly smoky note too. Sweet on the strike. Ripe peach and passion fruit in the middle palate. It is rounded, creamy with a touch of chocolate but with decent enough acidity and very good minerality underscoring the palate. Here there is the stoniness on the finish which really supports the lower acidity. There is sweetness and stone at the end. It is long and should age well. At least 20 years. Score 18.75

“I believe the Renardes was very helpful in this vintage,” says Claude.

Bressandes was picked on the 10th at 13% and the Chaumes on the 13th with the Renardes and therefore pressed together.

pH 3.3 Bressandes and 3.2 for Chaumes/Renardes and bottled at pH 3.35 and with a little more So2 because of the vintage.


Corton, Blanc 2008
This is deeper in colour than the 2007. This has aged quite quickly. Note of marmalade. It has a high tone with this. The concentration by the north wind in 2008 makes a wine which is both cold and concentrated. It is more developed in the nose and less so on the palate, although the aromatics on the palate are quite evolved as well. I like the freshness on the finish though. I would keep this for 2 or 3 years and see what happens. It is awkward now. Maybe bottle variation. This is not as good as I thought it would be. Score 17

Claude, “This was a bad vintage for us – a big problem with mildew, but in Corton we managed. It was a late picking – like 2013 so from the 30th September. Alcohol 12.2 (I prefer not to chaptalise). The style of the wine has developed more quickly than we had thought. Maybe we did too much racking – we did the first racking with air. In the time, it was the way we did it. We racked twice – once after the MLF to get rid of the lees and we did it with air. The second to tank was protected. With the 2011 we changed things and only do one racking and put into stainless steel for longer and the whole ageing is shorter.”

*Corton, Blanc 2007
This is more lifted. There is a light citrus note. This light on the palate. It is slim textured, fresh, lemony, touch of mint and some good minerality. It is quite a lot better than the 2008. It was better than expected. From now onwards. Score 17.5

“This is a good surprise,” says Claude.

Harvest at a potential alcohol 12 to 12.2 on the different parcels. 3.10-3.2 pH at harvest. 22-24th September. 11.9 the lowest. “So this is the only time we chaptalised,” says Claude.

Corton, Blanc 2006 (magnum)
This has a deeper colour than the 2005 beside it. It is nutty – macadamia nuts. Creamy aroma. Here a touch of chestnuts too. Succulent on the front palate. It is juicy and much brighter than expected. It is rounded and rich. There is a touch of greengage. It is lively in the middle and fresh on the finish. It is more citrus at the end too. There is just a touch of salt at the end. This exceeds expectations. Better than 2007 and 2008. This is probably because it is a magnum. Drink from now onwards, given most will be in bottle. Score 17.75

Picked on the 20th. So classic (reds were the 27th) 3.3 a high pH and 13 alcohol. ended up at 3.4.

*Corton, Blanc 2005
This has an impressive note. Very intense and concentrated. Youthful fruit on the nose. This is compact on the palate. Rich and vigorous. A powerful wine with a fruit laden long, full throttled finish. This has hardly evolved. A powerhouse of a wine. Dense and fresh and muscular. This needs plenty of time. I would wait another 3 years at least, but it will age for many years. Score 19.

Picked on the 15th September. 12.2 and 3.2 pH. And a touch of chaptalisation to 12.7 and pH 3.3 at bottling.

Corton, Blanc 2004
“This was rain and rain and rain! My mother made this vintage.”
This has a deeper colour than the 2003. There is a very minty note. Butter-mints. It is quite evolved on the palate. Crunchy leafy note with this. On the positive side it is fresh and bright. Charming in fact, but a little lacking in stuffing and short. Score 17.25

“It could have been more evolved, so I am pleasantly surprised,” says Claude.

12.6 and picked 23rd September. pH 3.12 and at bottling 3.3.

Corton, Blanc 2003
Acorns and toffee and ripe lime cordial. An impressive nose …strong and attractive. The palate is rich and generous. It is juicy and rounded. It is good on the finish – assertive and there is sweetness and a stoney quality to the finish. Ends fresh. It’s a good 2003. Baroque in a good way, as there is balance. Score 17.5

Picked in August 16th 12.6 and pH 3.4 and at bottling pH 3.5