Burgundy lovers seeking that elusive confluence of first-rate appellations, skillful winemaking, and refreshingly accessible prices need look no further than these expressive gems from Mark O'Connell's Volnay-based Domaine Clos de la Chapelle. For several years these have been on my short list of Burgundy's finest values, and a quality upsurge in recent vintages has done much to deepen this impression. Lovers of understated elegance should pounce on a few bottles of the flagship 'Clos de la Chapelle,' a silky-textured stylishly perfumed 1er Cru adjacent to the Church in the heart of the village. I've always had a shine for the Pommard 'Les Chanlins,' which will successfully challenge any doubt about this village's ability to yield wines of clarity and finesse. The value proposition here should be irresistible, in particular with this offering's mature vintages, all of which are direct from the domaine. - Jason
Clos de la Chapelle is the product of a passionate love for Burgundy that has resurrected a domaine centered around the eponymous vineyard in the heart of Volnay. Mark O'Connell, a lifelong wine collector from Kansas City, began a closer connection with the winemaking of the region when following the élevage on several barrels purchased from the Hospices de Beaune. After then working harvest in Burgundy, he took the plunge on an opportunity to set up a domaine of his own. Mark, having completed an oenological degree at UC Davis, has a strong team around him including Pierre Meurgey as general manager of the domaine.
Vineyards are farmed with great care and the domaine is certified organic. While the winemaking has never been better, there is a great continuity of style across the years. Bunches are mostly destemmed followed by a short cold maceration and the wines see around 25% new oak. The domaine has fine holdings from the hill of Corton to their heart in Volnay; a short commentary of some particularly special sites, with quotations from Mark, follows.
Volnay 1er Cru 'Clos de la Chapelle' - “This harmonizes many of the great terroirs of Volnay, and has been continuously planted since the 14th century.” In practically the direct center of Volnay, an upslope-downslope corridor next to Clos de la Bousse d'Or, this has a perfect balance of the influences of clay and limestone found in the village. The wine is floral and perfumed with a supple palate and a long fanning finish.
Pommard 1er Cru 'Les Chanlins' - “We tend to think that old vines make great wine, but the vines are old because the wines that issue are great." These vines planted in 1930 are ideally sited high on the slope at the border with Volnay and produces a most refined style of Pommard. "Still with some of that classic Pommard dusty cocoa powder, but a great introduction to a more elegant side of the village."
Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru - These vines are in 'En Charlemagne' facing NW. "This used to be a lesser regarded area for CC yet these days even in warmer vintages our wines are still in the 12.5 to 13 range. On this side, you still get classic Corton-Charlemagne wines; rich yes, but with precision, drive and underlying tension."
Along with exciting recent releases, for which a couple critic notes follow, we are thrilled to have a wealth of library releases offering exceptional value on fine, mature Burgundy. Quantities are small; don't miss out.
2018 Corton-Charlemagne - Classic smart-white-burgundy aroma: there's a slight smokiness, subtle cedar and spice from the oak and still pure grapefruit-like citrus freshness. The palate echoes that complexity and the fruit is quite rich and ripe but still very fresh. Complete and long and there's more complexity to come. Spicy finish with a mealy character from the oak and so fresh. - Julia Harding MW, Jancis Robinson Purple Pages
2019 Volnay 1er Cru 'Clos de la Chapelle' - Monopole. Fresh mid purple, offering a very lively sensual nose, I thought whole bunch, but no, it is the vineyard, but this is gorgeous with soft ripe strawberry fruit lifted by some top raspberry notes. Certainly a ripe style of pinot, but its lovely. The bad news is that the yield was a ridiculously low 10 hl/ha. - Jasper Morris, Inside Burgundy