On the slopes of the most northern-reaching zone of Burgundy the pretty village of Irancy is like a bottle of red wine in a sea of white – notably Chablis.
The Colinots own a tiny 12.5 hectare vineyard in the pretty village of Irancy, which has been in the family for generations, and regularly win awards for their wines. The wines are made from Pinot Noir, as in other parts of Burgundy, but the appellation of Irancy is quite unique in having up to small percentage of the rare variety César, which dates back to Roman plantings in the 11th century. This variety gives both colour and perfume. The terroir is Kimmeridgian limestone, and the slopes, as seen in the photo below, afford excellent drainage and exposure to the sun. Until recently all the wines from the village were classified as simple AC Bourgogne Rouge, but in 1999 in recognition of their much improved character and quality they were awarded their own appellation of AC Irancy.
Over the past 15 years we have seen a dramatic change in the quality of Irancy reds. Whereas in the past the red grapes would struggle to ripen, global warming has led to hotter and sunnier summers with a consequent great improvement in the quality of the fruit.
The Colinots are acknowledged as one of the top two producers in the village. Their daughter Stéphanie qualified in Oenology at Beaune University and since 2001 she has thrown herself into the wine making with great enthusiasm. She has introduced new techniques as clearly demonstrated by these elegant 2013s.
Since we last shipped her wines, Stéphanie has married Jean-Paul Durup of the famous Château Maligny in Chablis, and it was a pleasure to meet them both and their two young children, when we went for an extensive tasting of the new vintage in April this year.
The grapes from each slope are vinified separately in open vats, without oak maturation, and age well over 5-10 years. Each slope or lieu-dit has its own soil structure and microclimate – what the French call “terroir”, and the Colinots are fervent believers in allowing each vineyard to express its individual characteristics.
In a world of increasing conformity, it is like a breath of fresh air to find wines of such individuality, and each wine expresses its own character. Red Burgundy will always be expensive – the difficulties in growing Pinot Noir, the marginal climate, and the increasing world demand in the face of tiny quantities will always see to that. However, these wines are truly remarkable value!
The last vintage we purchased was 2005, and the wines sold out to members within four weeks. More than 10 years on, they are still drinking beautifully!
2013 Vintage : The wines are ripe with good concentration and acidity, displaying excellent balance, but above all great elegance. This makes them ideal for drinking now but with the potential for ageing for another five years. Now is the time to buy!
Terroir : This is a fantastic opportunity to discover what the French mean when they talk about terroir. Each wine is vinified in the same way, and on tasting them you will recognise many common features. However, there are some striking differences and these represent the different soil structure, the exposure to the sun, the drainage and the microclimate of each site, which then shows in the individual character in its wine.
A case of 6 bottles consists of two bottles of three different wines –
Vieilles Vignes 2013
This is made from 100% Pinot Noir, from 40 year old vines. Stéphanie now destems the bunches before fermentation, to produce a softer, more feminine style. It is medium depth of colour, with a fragrant fruit-driven nose, which leads into a softly textured mouthful of delicate strawberry fruit, gentle tannin and fresh acidity. Only £13.50 from us – it retails elsewhere in the UK at £15.85!
Les Cailles 2013
Another 100% Pinot Noir wine. Slightly deeper in colour with a hint of age at the rim. This has a superb young vivacious Pinot Noir nose – with floral nuances, redcurrants and mineral tones. On the palate there are layers of red and black fruits with cherries. There is more concentration, it is beautifully ripe and silky with lovely acidity, a touch of ripe tannin, and good length. Another wine of great elegance, and amazingly delicious to drink now! Only £14.50 from us but £19.25 at another UK stockist!
Très Vieilles Vignes 2013
This is made exclusively from vines with an average age of 80 years! And with a fascinating difference – Irancy is the only Burgundy appellation allowed to use the ancient Roman grape variety of César, which precedes the planting of Pinot Noir. There is 70% Pinot Noir and 30% of rare, very old vine César in the assemblage!
It is even deeper in colour, with an opulent black fruit nose. In the mouth, it is bursting with soft, strawberry, blackberry and blueberry fruit flavours, but with greater minerality, reflecting its terroir. A truly original wine.
All three wines are all perfect to drink now, but the last two will develop further over the next five years.