An introduction to the ‘Clos’ of the Champagne region (2/3)
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 des Monnaies, sustainable growing
Clos des Monnaies in Damery has two owners: Champagne Goutorbe-Bouillot and Champagne Éric Lemaire, but only the former produces a champagne from the Clos. This 0.28-hectare plot was planted by Jules Goutorbe in 1930 and is surrounded by walls and bushes. Champagne Goutorbe-Bouillot practises sustainable growing on this plot.
The Clos is named "Clos des Monnaies" because there was a Gallo-Roman coin-making factory on the site in 360 AD.
Clos des Goisses, the oldest Clos
This is the oldest Clos in Champagne, and the steepest, and certainly the most famous. Clos des Goisses comprises 5.5 hectares of south-facing vines, enclosed by walls since 1887. The plot is located on the south-facing slopes of Mareuil-sur-Aÿ which enables the grapes to attain exceptional maturity.
In the old Champagne dialect, the term "gois" or "goisses" means "sloping hillside". It would also appear that "goisse" is the transcription of "hard work". For such a steep Clos, this definition would certainly make sense!
Clos Saint Hilaire, the garden that became a Clos
At the start of the 1950s, Clos Saint-Hilaire was still just a simple green space used by the Billecart family for recreation. 15 years later, the first Pinot Noir vines were planted. This one-hectare vineyard meets strict standards: a single plot, enclosed as a single block, with a fully equipped winemaking facility on-site. To work this plot, Billecart-Salmon decided to return to the Champagne region's ancestral method of working the land with a draught horse.
Clos Saint-Hilaire is named in honour of the patron saint of the church in Mareuil-sur-Aÿ.
Clos Jacquesson, the best-kept secret
Champagne Jacquesson, located in Dizy, in the Vallée de la Marne, owns a Clos adjoining the company's premises. Little known to the general public, the Clos Jacquesson champagne was only available in the finest French restaurants, and only by the glass. It is now impossible to get hold of a bottle because the Champagne House has ceased production.
Initially, Clos Jacquesson was planted with 100% Meunier. The Champagne House tested it with the 2002 and 2004 vintages, but when they were not convinced of the quality, they decided to grub up all the Meunier vines and replace them with Pinot Noir.
Clos des Chaudes Terres and Clos Saint-Jacques, the ‘méthode champenoise’
Lily Bollinger had the idea of producing a champagne ("Les Vieilles Vignes") made from vines miraculously preserved from phylloxera and therefore ungrafted. These vines are those of Clos des Chaudes des Terres (0.36 hectare) and Clos Saint-Jacques (0.21 hectare). Both plots, located in Aÿ, have been planted with Pinot Noir since 1969 and are cultivated using the Champagne 'en foule' (high density) method and worked by horse.
The planting density is 30,000 vines per hectare, whereas the average in Champagne is around 8,000 vines.
Clos Jarot, future promise
Thanks to its Clos Jarot, the Nowack family is able to welcome visitors in a lovely rural setting. The very first Clos Jarot wine will not be released until 2022!
Today’s owner of the Clos, Frédéric Nowack, has named the champagne from Clos Jarot after the former owner of a plot of Chardonnay.
Le Clos de Cumières, respect for natural cycles
Hervé Jestin, a pioneer and expert in organic and biodynamic viticulture, founded Champagne Jestin in 2006. He acquired Clos de Cumières shortly afterwards. The plot is completely walled and includes a house dating from the 18th century, but the vineyard itself has been around since 1964. Two grape varieties are grown there: Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
Clos Cumières used to belong to Champagne Leclerc Briant when it was known as Clos des Champions.
Clos l’Abbé, Hubert’s garden
Hubert Soreau does not see the Clos l'Abbé as a vineyard, but more as a garden that he tends to with a passion. The walls that surround it preserve the history of this plot, first planted by monks several centuries ago. The 0.21 hectare is entirely planted with Chardonnay and some of the vines belong to the Henriot Champagne House, which does not produce a Clos champagne from them.
Clos l'Abbé is located on the site of the former abbey of Épernay. The monks used to make their own wine from the grapes growing in this plot planted in the 9th century.
Clos 667, a small quantity production
Little known to the general public, Clos 667 is owned by Champagne Patrick Boivin. The 100% Chardonnay vines, located near the family home in Épernay, were planted in 2006. The vintage champagnes from this Clos are only produced in outstanding years.
Clos Cazals, the family adventure
The Cazals family acquired the eponymous Clos in 1950. Located in Oger, the estate includes a gorgeous building, a garden with trees and flowers, and 3.7 hectares of Chardonnay vines. For the Cazals family, this estate is "more than a work tool, it is an exceptional place where [Delphine] likes to recharge her batteries and share special moments with lovers of champagne and nature (...)".
The property once belonged to the MP and minister Léon Bourgeois, who was also one of the founders of the League of Nations and the Nobel Peace Prize.
Clos Faubourg de Notre-Dame, the family monopoly
Clos Faubourg de Notre-Dame has been a Fourny family monopoly since 1930. Located in the village of Vertus - Premier Cru (Côte des Blancs), the Clos is a small 0.25 hectare-plot that is the origin of a 100% Chardonnay champagne.
The Abbaye Notre-Dame and its Clos were founded in the medieval village of Vertus in the 12th century. As a result of various historical events, the Abbey has since disappeared, but the Abbey's ice house, an underground storage area for ice and snow in the winter, still exists today.`