About Clos de Tart Grand Cru Monopole 2013
"The 2013 Clos de Tart has a succinct and perfumed bouquet: distant at first but warming to you with time. It is very well defined (as usual) with blackcurrant and cassis, a tangible mineral component courtesy of vines planted on wet limestone. The palate is medium-bodied with tensile tannins, symmetrical with a keen thread of acidity. The whole bunch component is barely tangible, but perhaps it renders it more backward than when I tasted the 2012 last year. It is linear and focused with a subtle brine influence toward the finish. There is an effortlessness about this Clos de Tart.
I cannot remember how many years I have been visiting Clos de Tart. Probably since when it was occupied by nuns at the abbey. But it is always a pleasure to meet the congenial winemaker Sylvain Pitiot who was as erudite and intellectual as ever, perhaps not descending into the inner sanctum of the barrel cellar as nimbly as a few years ago, but still passionate and full of sense. As is the custom, rather than heading directly for the final assemblage I tasted blind through the different parcels of the 9-hectare clos, always an insightful exercise. This year, we discussed in detail the use of stems in the blend, Sylvain was keen to emphasize that it is not merely a question of whether a winemaker blends in the stems or not, but how they are used vis-à-vis extraction via remontage or pigeage, the importance of treating the must gently through the former when using them. To prove his point, it was very difficult to ascertain which of the six cuvées were whole bunch and which were destemmed.
“We picked the 2013 from 8 until 12 October, just four days because the crop was small at 23hl/ha. It was a difficult year, one of the most difficult because of the climate: late flowering, bad flowering with a lot of coulure, late véraison, burnt grapes and the constant pressure of vineyard disease. But there was no rot because bunches were small and not tightly packed together [enhancing air circulation]. We were very tired at the end of the growing season because recent vintages have been so difficult (although the 2014 was easier…until the end of June). It was a surprise because in 2013 the stems were not completely ripe and the seeds were not brown but green. Yet the vegetal aromas did not come through in the cuvées. It was the same in 2008.”
Sylvain appeared relieved that there is almost double the amount of 2013 as 2012, though he admitted that he would not have known what he would have done had Nature denuded him of a decent crop again. That said, the 2013 is still below what an average growing season bestows. The wine is extremely pure and quite structured, full of tension and showing more density than the Clos des Lambrays, as it always does. It faintly reminded me of the 2008 but with more gravitas.
Post-script: following my visit, I received a letter from Sylvain explaining that he will retire from his winemaking duties next year. His will be one face that I will miss on my future travels." - Neil Martin, Wine Advocate