About The Wine
David Croix’s Corton-Charlemagne parcel is located in Le Charlemagne, an interior subdivision lieu-dit of this grand cru and part of the commune, Aloxe-Corton. His vineyard is just below the forest that caps this three-sided hill, and faces west at an altitude of 320 to 330 meters. The bedrock here is pernand marl, a white calcareous marlstone with a high silt content, giving the rock a grittier texture to the touch than other usual marls within the Côte d’Or. The topsoil is composed of material derived from the bedrock as well as clay and limestone scree from the top of the hill. The parcel’s Chardonnay vines were completely replanted in the mid- and late-1980s.
On a number of occasions during visits with growers who own vineyard parcels in Corton-Charlemagne (we work with two others: Bruno Clair and Simon Bize), they explained that the picking time during harvest varies depending on where the vines are located. For example, Les Pougets, on the south-southwest face, is often the first picked. At the other extreme, the northwest facing section of Le Charlemagne inside Pernand-Vergelesses, it can be ten days to two weeks later. David’s section lands somewhere in the middle.
The upper section of Le Charlemagne’s white marls and their higher than average silt content seem to impart “a lot of texture with salinity and tannin to the wines—delicate tannins, sensitive to too much new oak,” David explained. In the most recent vintages he’s moved away from aging in newer wood to allow these finely textured grape tannins to not be covered by stronger and potentially harsher wood tannins from newer oak barrels. He now uses 350-liter barrels with a smaller proportion of new wood, which he views as a good compromise. The 228 and 500-liter French oak barrels found throughout his cellar he sees as less ideal given how “dense” the wine is. He believes his Corton-Charlemagne needs longer-term soft massaging through the right amount of aeration without taking on new oak notes to achieve his ideal wine. The longer aging time in the 350-liter barrels builds on the wine’s freshness, its naturally strong core power and intricate complexity.
Barrel aging in the past for this wine was twelve months followed by six months in stainless steel prior to bottling. Now David has extended the barrel aging to twenty months, followed by only a few months in steel to blend the barrels together in preparation for bottling. It’s easy to subscribe to this idea of a longer, older wood elevage because David is in “pursuit of grace and elegance” with a grand cru vineyard that can easily arrive to excessive primary characteristics in its youth that take a long time to develop while possibly missing some potentially elevated moments along the way. Longer wood aging with less newer wood has proven in more traditional winemaking styles (with both red and white wine throughout the world) to allow secondary and tertiary elements—like savory, earthy and mineral characteristics—to begin to take center stage over the primary fruit and fat earlier in the wine’s life without compromising its durability and complexity.
Despite David’s slightly augmented new approach and instinctive adaptation in the cellar, he believes that the vineyards have begun to behave differently in the recent years. Their conversion to organic culture in 2008 is now really starting to, well, bear fruit… Those secondary and tertiary components mentioned earlier began to take on more of the wine’s expression naturally. Perhaps it was the vines that influenced David’s style, not the other way around? Today, he believes that there is more natural balance in all of his wines. And his Corton-Charlemagne is notably more bright and elegant than ever.