An introduction to the ‘Clos’ of the Champagne region (1/3)
Exclusive champagnes or well-kept secrets, the wines from the Champagne 'Clos' are often synonymous with scarcity! But what exactly is a 'Clos'? a Clos is simply a plot of vines enclosed by walls or hedges that “a rider cannot jump over with his horse” (decree of 19 August 1921).
The following is a quick round-up of these little gems...
Clos A. Doré, the discreet Clos
An orchard in a former life, Clos A. Doré has been planted with Chardonnay vines since 1978. This poetically named Clos is located in Ludes - Premier Cru and its 0.55 hectare of vines is surrounded by walls. The plot has been designated as a 'mother vine', i.e., a source of grafts, by the INRA (Institut National de Recherche en Agronomie) and the CIVC (Comité Interprofessionnel des Vins de Champagne).
The Clos A. Doré is hidden away in the very heart of Ludes, so it is invisible from the street.
Clos des Trois Clochers, biodynamics in the vineyards
Clos des Trois Clochers surrounds the villa built by architect Max Sainseaulieu, who saved the statuary of the Reims Cathedral during the First World War. It is located in the Premier Cru village of Villers-Allerand and has been owned by the Leclerc Briant Champagne House since 2013. The plot covering around 0.40 hectare, surrounded by hedges and planted entirely with Chardonnay (not usual for this area), is certified organic and biodynamic.
The name of the Clos was not chosen at random, as the former owner of the property explains: "In the middle of the grounds, there is a precise spot from where you can see the bell towers of the Church of Rilly-la-Montagne, the Cathedral of Reims and Villers-Allerand. In the morning, if I'm feeling a bit low, I come here, I look at my three bell towers for a couple of minutes and go home feeling better, I'm all set for the day.”
Clos des Bergeronneau, a hymn to the old vines
Located in the heart of the village of Ville-Dommange, Clos des Bergeronneau is enclosed by gates, hedges and restored 19th-century walls. 2.10 hectares of Pinot Noir and Meunier vines grow quietly behind its large gate. The estate is in the process of converting to organic growing and has received "Haute Valeur Environnementale" (High Environmental Value) certification. The champagne from Clos des Bergeronneau comes from the small proportion of old vines.
Clos des Bergeronneau is the fulfilment of Véronique and Florent Bergeronneau’s dream, one they had thought impossible, but which came true in 2007.
Clos Barnaut, on Coteaux Champenois land
Clos Barnaut, tucked away behind the Edmond Barnaut Champagne House presses and cellars, was resurrected by Philippe Secondé, who inherited the Champagne House founded in 1874. It is located in Bouzy, a village famous for its Coteaux Champenois. Since 2018, the plot has been dedicated to the production of Champagne Clos de Bouzy Barnaut. Exclusively a vintage champagne, the first will be released around 2026.
Clos Barnaut is the only Clos to have produced a Coteaux Champenois, Bouzy Rosé. What's more, the Coteaux Champenois rosés are something of a rarity!
Clos du Moulin, half Pinot Noir half Chardonnay
The Clos du Moulin plot is located near Chigny-les-Roses, in the heart of the Montagne de Reims, at the top of a hill where it receives plenty of sunshine. Jean Cattier acquired this Clos in the early 1950s, and the following year he produced a few wines on a modest scale. Half of the Clos du Moulin is planted with Chardonnay and the other half with Pinot Noir.
Interestingly, it is only surrounded by a low wall. The Clos du Moulin is so named because during the French Revolution when the land was redistributed to the peasants, a wooden mill stood above it. After it was destroyed by fire, it was replaced by a stone mill, which did not survive the two world wars.
Clos Lanson, the secret garden
In the heart of Reims, lies the Lanson Champagne House's secret garden: its famous Clos. Facing the Cathedral, this historical one-hectare plot of Chardonnay is enclosed by walls. Clos Lanson boasts chalky soil and a microclimate that endow the champagne with complex notes.
Although a Clos Lanson champagne has only existed since 2006, references to the Clos can be found in some 18th-century archives
Clos d’Ambonnay, an ode to Pinot Noir
The village of Ambonnay has been Krug's main source of grapes pretty much since its creation. Covering a small 0.68 hectare, Clos d'Ambonnay is located in the heart of the village of the same name. The Clos'only grape variety is, of course, the Pinot Noir, Ambonnay's flagship grape. Vines have been growing there, surrounded by walls and secured by an imposing gate, since 1766.
A few weeks after the release of the very rare Clos d'Ambonnay 1995, a charity auction took place in Las Vegas at which one of the bottles sold for the modest sum of ... 4,400 dollars! If one bottle fills 6 glasses, then that's $730 a glass!
Le Petit Clos, the Clos that lives up to its name
The Jean Vesselle Champagne House is located in Bouzy, a village classified as a Grand Cru. At the heart of the family domaine there is a rare Clos, Le Petit Clos, which is one of the smallest ‘Grand Cru’-classified Clos in Champagne. With its 0.82 hectares of Pinot Noir, only a few hundred bottles of "Le Petit Clos" are produced each year, all revealing incredible aromas of juicy, tasty, sun-drenched fruit.
Every year, the Champagne House buys a new Champagne ‘pièce’ (barrel), as three barrels are always used for Le Petit Clos: one brand new, one already used for one fill, and one used for 2 fills.
Clos Pompadour, the largest Clos
With its 25 hectares of vines, Clos Pompadour is the largest Clos in the region. It is located on the Pommery estate, in the hills above Reims. Its name is a tribute to Louis XV's favourite, the Marquise de Pompadour.
It was born of a desire to create a "true Reims champagne", from vines within the city limits. To mark the exceptional character of this Clos, its champagne is only available in magnums, produced in 2,000-3,000 units.
At the start of 2021, Champagne Pommery introduced sheep to the Clos Pompadour vineyard, a move that is in keeping with the Champagne House's objective of converting to organic growing through the practice of eco-grazing.
Clos Virgile, the elegance of Chardonnay combined with Pinot Noir
Clos Virgile represents the elegance of the Chardonnay combined with the Pinot Noir.
It is a plot of vines adjoining the Champagne Paul-Sadi property in Beaumont-sur-Vesle. The vineyard is surrounded by a wall, which protects it from the wind. The Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vines growing there were planted in 1993 and inaugurated the same year.
It is one of the few Clos to be classified as Grand Cru.
Clos de Marzilly, the importance of the Pinot Meunier
Clos de Marzilly is an exceptional plot of sandy-clay soil from the Saint-Thierry massif. It is located in Marzilly, a lieu-dit near the village of Hermonville. The Clos, 100% Meunier, is owned by Champagne Michel Fagot.
Clos de Marzilly dates back to the 15th century and was used to produce wine for the Bishop of Reims.