An introduction to the ‘Clos’ of the Champagne region (3/3)
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 du Mesnil, Chardonnay at its very finest
Clos du Mesnil is the Krug Champagne House's legendary vineyard, covering 1.84 hectares. The plot has been walled since 1698. Clos du Mesnil overlooks the church in Mesnil-sur-Oger, an iconic Chardonnay village. Originally, Clos du Mesnil was only supposed to provide a stable supply of Chardonnay for the Krug Grande Cuvée blend, but it turned out otherwise, as the quality of the Clos wines stood out at every tasting.
When brothers Rémi and Henri Krug came across this Clos, they were able to read an inscription engraved in the stone stating “In the year 1698, this wall was built by Claude Jannin and Pierre Dehée Metoen and in the same year the vines were planted by Gaspard Jannin, son of Claude.”
Clos Mandois, the "After Dinner" Clos
Clos Mandois is a historical plot belonging to the Champagne House of the same name. The 1.5-hectare Clos is located in the heart of the estate in the lower end of Pierry. Some of the 100% Meunier vines were planted in 1955 and have been owned by the Mandois family since 1963. Clos Mandois was the result of Claude Mandois' desire to create an "After Dinner" champagne, a champagne that could be enjoyed at the end of a meal, as an after-dinner drink.
The family home, tucked away in the heart of the vineyards, is a former coaching inn dating from the time of Louis XIV.
Clos Bourmault, a haven of peace
Located in Avize, Clos Bourmault is located behind Christian Bourmault’s family home. The plot, enclosed by walls and hedges, has been worked organically and biodynamically for the past two years. The Clos, a real haven of peace, is the standard-bearer for the Champagne House.
Although Clos Bourmault is only 20 years old, the trees in its grounds are well over a century old.
Clos de l’Abbaye, respect for the soil
Located in Vertus - Premier Cru Clos de l'Abbaye is owned by Champagne Doyard. The half-hectare walled plot is located behind the company's premises and is entirely planted with Chardonnay. Its location and very chalky soil result in a very early ripening of its grapes. To respect the environment, no chemicals are used and the soil is worked by horse.
The vines were planted in 1956, but have only been produced as a 'Clos' since 2007.
Clos des Bouveries, an early vegetative cycle
Clos des Bouveries is a historic vineyard in the village of Vertus, owned by the Duval-Leroy family. The Clos is situated halfway up the hillside and faces due east, benefiting from the exceptional conditions that result in a very early vegetative cycle.
The Clos des Bouveries champagne was born out of Carol Duval-Leroy's desire to create special champagnes best representing the Champagne terroir. It is therefore both a single-varietal (Chardonnay) and single-vineyard (the Clos) champagne.
Clos des Belvals, the Burgundy spirit
The village of Vertus certainly has no shortage of Clos as Clos des Belvals is also located here. Dominique Person acquired this 1.2-hectare plot in 2006. It is entirely planted with Chardonnay vines which are worked biodynamically, like the rest of the Person Champagne vineyards.
The Clos des Belvals champagne is made in a Burgundy style. Its flavours are reminiscent of the great wines of Chablis.
Clos des Maladries, the importance of the Chardonnay
Le Clos des Maladries est une petite parcelle de 15 ares située dans le village d’Avize. Les vignes, toutes de Chardonnay, ont été plantées dans les années 1970 par le grand-père d’Etienne. Les murs du clos et l’exposition plein Sud permettent de retenir la chaleur, favorisant ainsi la maturation des raisins. Voulant pratiquer une agriculture biologique, Etienne travaille le sol au cheval uniquement.
Le clos se nomme ainsi en référence aux « Maladries », hôpitaux du Moyen-Âge dans lesquels étaient gardés des patients contagieux. Un hôpital de ce genre se trouvait sur ce site il y a des centaines d’années.
Clos Jacquin, respect for tradition
Located in Avize in the heart of the Côte des Blancs, Clos Jacquin sits atop an east-facing hill. Planted exclusively with Chardonnay, the grapes from this plot are used to craft non-vintage champagnes. They are picked at full maturity at the end of the harvest and carefully pressed in the purest Champagne tradition.
The Clos Jacquin champagne bears the name of one of the lieux-dits in Avize
La cuvée du Clos Jacquin porte le nom d’un des lieux-dits d’Avize.
Clos Rocher, the fulfilment of a dream
Jean-Michel Gremillet's dream of creating his own Clos came true in 2012! Clos Rocher lies in the famous Les Riceys area and is situated only a few metres from the Champagne Gremillet cellars. The 1.40-hectare vineyard, planted entirely with Pinot Noir, is surrounded by low walls and wrought iron.
Adjacent to Clos Rocher, you will find the "Arboretum des Vaucelles", a specialised botanical garden that houses as many conifers of various origins as there are countries where Gremillet Champagne is distributed (i.e. 82).
Clos Sainte-Sophie, at the origin of a Japanese vineyard
To reach Clos Sainte-Sophie, we have to head to the Aube region, to Montgueux, to be precise. This 0.4-hectare plot is enclosed by a hedge. The champagne it produces is a cuvée from old Chardonnay vines planted between 1968 and 1975. Clos Sainte Sophie is vinified in Burgundy, Jura and Cognac oak barrels.
In 1876 and 1877, two Japanese apprentices were sent to Clos Sainte Sophie by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture. They left with 100 plants which were used to create the first Japanese vineyard in Yamanashi, near Mount Fuji.
Clos du Château de Bligny, the Clos of forgotten grape varieties
Château de Bligny is nestled in the heart of the Côte des Bar in the Aube region. A récoltant-manipulant owned by GH Martel, it is the only champagne to use the name "Château". The 0.80-hectare Clos is located within the château grounds and faces due south. The champagne it produces is composed of equal proportions of 6 grape varieties: Pinot Noir, Meunier, Chardonnay, Arbane, Petit Meslier and Pinot Blanc.
Château de Bligny was built over the foundations of a medieval castle by the Marquis de Dampierre in 1773.