Big, powerful wine of true grand cru stature with lovely freshness and very long finish. 2024–2035.
Product Code: BU58511
View all products by Domaine Bruno Clair
Bruno Clair began on his own in 1979 when his father's famous Domaine Clair-Dau was fragmented as a result of family disagreements and France’s Napoleonic inheritance laws. Bruno began with plots in Marsannay and Fixin, a small parcel in Savigny-Les-Beaune and a fallow plot that needed replanting in Morey-Saint-Denis, upon which he established an excellent reputation. By 1985 the parts of the old estates which had been retained by his family were in disarray and the various members asked Bruno to take control which he gladly did, adding vines in Clos de Bèze, Cazetiers, Clos-Saint-Jacques, Vosne-Romanée, Clos de Fonteny and Chambolle-Musigny to the portfolio. During the 1990s purchases of land in Corton-Charlemagne, Pernand-Vergelesses, Aloxe-Corton, and Gevrey-Chambertin Petite Chapelle further enhanced the holdings under his command and brought the total area to 23 hectares. Not only does Domaine Bruno Clair have a prestigious portfolio but it also has an enviable selection of clones, pioneered by his father and developed by Bruno during careful observation in the vineyards. In his work he is aided by his close friend and valued colleague Philippe Brun, who has been with him from the very beginning.The viticulture throughout is built on organic principles though without seeking certification in order that any particularly difficult vintages can be treated as a last resort. However, yields are kept low through painstaking work and everything is hand-harvested and sorted in the vineyards. Reds are partially destemmed prior to fermentation through the action of natural yeasts in open wooden vats for up to three weeks before seeing time in oak. The amount of new oak each wine sees depend on its designation within the hierarchy. White grapes are gently pressed and the juice fermented again through the use of natural yeasts in oak barrels with batonnage. Thee whites then spend between 16 and 20 months in 20-50% new oak. The domaine also produces rosé in Marsannay as well as aligoté.
Taking its name from the town at its heart, Nuits-St-Georges, the Côte de Nuits is the northern half of the Côte d’Or, the escarpment upon which lie the greatest of Burgundy’s vineyards. Though there are a number of very fine white wines made it is the reds for which the Côte de Nuits is truly famous. Compared with the red wines of the Côte de Beaune the reds from Nuits have more sophisticated tannins, extra body and a more sumptuous texture than their southern counterparts. The soils of the area are predominantly limestone of various types, which is excellent for drainage but also retention of water. The finest have a happy conjunction of silt and scree over marl with protected and sunny aspects in some of the side-valleys that cut into the escarpment from west to east. These cuts provide a number of meso- and microclimates as well as the various aspects. The best sites are neither at the top or the bottom of these slopes where the soils are too impoverished or too fertile respectively. More generic wines are produced at the top and bottom of these slopes, with the Premiers Crus and Grand Crus in a band running along the upper middle. The climate here is semi-continental, though northerly winds can temper a hot summer while warmer winds from the south can bring warmth. Westerly winds that ultimately originate in the Atlantic can bring rain but at its worst may deliver devastating hail in incredibly localised storms. There is a degree of unpredictability about vintages in Burgundy that mean more variation than in any other fine wine region.The appellations that sit above the generic regional ACs in the hierarchy are Marsannay, Fixin, Gevrey-Chambertin, Morey-St-Denis, Chambolle-Musigny, Vougeot, Vosne-Romanée, Echézaux and Nuits-St-George. Côte de Nuits –Villages is made from grapes grown at either end of the Côte, where the soils and sites are less impressive. Gevrey-Chambertin is a complete and balanced wine, full and harmonious. Wines from Nuits-St-Georges are the most tannic and, like Pommards, need long maturation. For many Vosne-Romanée is the summit. Its wines have beautiful velvety palates: dense and soft, sensuous and tactile. Chambolle-Musigny is the lightest yet one of the most fragrant wines of the Côte de Nuits. It is perhaps Nuits's equivalent of Volnay; a pretty, fine boned wine with exquisite perfume and a silky palate.
While there is much to enjoy in 2013, there was considerable weather variation and generalisations are difficult so sub regions are treated separately below.In the Côte de Nuits succulent, fresh and lifted red wines were made with sweet but unobtrusive tannins and modest alcohol levels. There is enough structure here for mid to long-term maturation thanks to the small size of the crop and the protracted ripening time that the vines enjoyed. Also significant was the preponderance of millerandage, when berries remain small after flowering, which means there is a higher ratio of skin to pulp and few if any pips. The Côte de Beaune was variable due to hail. As with the Côte de Nuits poor flowering also affected the crop, but it was the hail that caused devastation on 23rd July, in a swathe from Ladoix to Meursault. It has led to losses between 40-100% but overall has meant a halving of the crop. However, there was enough time for some leaves to grow and there was time for damaged grapes to drop and wounds on the vine to heal and still allow time for the fruit remaining to ripen. Reds are fresh and vibrant, and this is a vintage to trade up to premier cru for the greater ripeness that such sites can achieve. Whites in the Côte de Beaune can be lovely, with moderate alcohols and a fresh mineral style. Saint-Aubin, Chassagne, Puligny and Meursault all performed well.In Chablis the best wines were made from grapes picked before the storm of 5th and 6th October. Those that picked thus have made taut, firm and mineral wines that are classic Chablis. Some who picked after the storm suffered from attacks of botrytis and though a little of such an infection can add a honeyed nuance to the wines too much, can override the subtleties and minerality that one looks for in good Chablis.Mâcon performed very well in 2013. There were fewer problems of flowering, no hail and only a small amount of botrytis after the storms. There are well-balanced, ripe but fresh whites.
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The Society's wine buyers work very closely with our suppliers to determine how best to seal our wines. We list below those closures currently in use with a brief description of each.
A technical cork made up of the remnants from the production of natural corks which are ground down into particles and cleaned and then combined using a food-grade polyurethane glue. A cheaper closure which The Society's buyers discourage suppliers from using.
A technical cork made from cheaper-grade natural cork where the naturally occurring pores are filled with ground down cork particles and then the whole is sealed with a food-grade wax coating. Generally only used for wines with a short shelf-life.
Diam corks look like agglomerate corks but are far superior and are designed to put an end to cork taint and random oxidation. The production process chops cork into pieces and sorts the superior, highly elastic, suberin component from the less elastic lignin, which is discarded. It mixes the suberin with microscopic spheres of the same substance used for contact lenses, which fills the voids between the cork particles reducing porosity to air and increasing elasticity without introducing humidity. Finally the pieces are mixed with a glue and moulded under pressure. The mechanical properties of the cork are guaranteed for a certain minimum number of years depending on the grade of cork - for example Diam 2 is guaranteed for two years; Diam 3, 5 and 10 are also available.
The Champagne cork is 90% agglomerate made from cork off-cuts which are ground down, cleaned, compressed and then glued together with two disks of good quality natural cork glued onto the end which protrudes into the bottle.
Natural corks harvested from the cork oak (Quercus suber) forests in Spain and Portugal have been the closure of choice for wine for the 300 years. The bark of the cork oak is stripped from mature trees every nine years. The planks are stored and then cleaned and graded before the corks are punched out of the wood. For wines destined for long-ageing, high-grade natural corks are still the closure of choice.
Cost-effective synthetic 'corks' made from food-grade plastic with a silicone coating (similar to that used on natural corks). Generally used for wines for short-term cellaring.
A glass stopper with a plastic 'O' ring which acts as an interface between the top of the bottle and the stopper, held in place by a metal, tamper-proof seal. Relatively expensive as a closure and not widely used. Can be removed by hand.
A short natural or agglomerate cork with a plastic or wooden top to enable the stopper to be removed by hand. Traditionally used for whiskies, sherries, Madeira etc.
Aluminium alloy screwcaps made with an expanded polyethylene wadding for the lining. Screwcaps are also known as ROTEs (roll-on tamper evident) or by the brand name (Stelvin is a popular brand). Widely used in Australia and New Zealand and for wines for short-term cellaring. Becoming increasingly sophisticated in terms of allowing differing levels of permeability so mimicking the properties of natural cork offering winemakers more choice depending of the style of wine being made. There is still a lack of sound data regarding the performance of screwcaps for longer-term cellaring.
This is an agglomerate cork with a disk of good-quality natural cork adhered to both ends. A reasonably priced, reliable alternative to natural cork.
This is the metal pilfer-proof cap usually used to seal beer bottles but also used in the production of Champagne and sparkling wine when wines are stored under crown cap before the dosage is added. A few producers use crown caps to seal wine bottles. Open with a standard bottle opener.
Jamie Goode has written an excellent book on the subject of closures for those wishing to find out more (Wine Bottle Closures, Flavour Press).
Alcohol by volume%
Units per standard bottle
The Society includes the alcohol by volume percentage figure for each wine available online, in Lists and offers.
It is generally accepted that alcohol levels in wine have been increasing in the last 20 years. There are many reasons why, but the single most important factor is the vast improvement in vineyard management techniques which have resulted in healthier, riper fruit being harvested. Alcohol is a by-product of the fermentation of sugars in the grapes and the best-quality wines are made from grapes that have reached physiological ripeness (colour, flavour and tannin), and this generally happens after sugar ripeness.
There are several techniques that can be used to reduce alcohol levels but currently most are intrusive and strip flavour as well as alcohol and we don't buy wines made in this way. In actual fact, more than half of our still table wines have an abv of 13% or less. Members looking to choose wines with lower levels of alcohol can now search our range by level of alcohol.
Excellent-quality wine is at the heart of everything we do at The Wine Society and balance is the single most important feature of quality. The interaction of a wine's main components of sugar, acidity, tannin, alcohol and flavour matter more than the actual level of alcohol. A well-made wine of 14.5%, for example, will taste more balanced than an inferior-quality wine with 10% alcohol. Furthermore, alcohol levels are only a guide to a wine's fullness: a 12.5% cabernet sauvignon may feel heavier and more full-bodied in the mouth than, say, a gamay of 13.5%. Members should refer to the wine's tasting note for a description of the style and fullness of the wine.
The Society is committed to promoting the responsible enjoyment of wines and spirits by providing relevant information to our members that allows them to make their own informed choices. An additional figure is beginning to be used on labels: the number of (UK) units of alcohol contained in that bottle. This is simply the alcohol by volume percentage multiplied by the content. Thus a 13% wine in a standard 75cl bottle will have 9.7 units of alcohol. All new labels of Society and Exhibition wines will include this information. drinkaware.co.uk
The Society's buyers provide recommended drink dates for all of our wines to help members decide the right time to pop the cork.
Should be drunk over the coming months, certainly within the year.
Now to 2016
Ready to drink now but will keep until 2016.
2018 to 2042
We recommend keeping longer before opening. In 2018 it will be ready to drink but still young and will keep until 2042. It's a matter of personal taste when such wines should be drunk. Many members prefer to try the wines over many years from the opening drink date to the last to watch the wine evolve.
Within one year of purchase
A non-vintage wine that should be drunk within 12 months.
Within two years of purchase
A non-vintage wine that is ready now but will keep for two years.
As a general rule, most everyday white wines are best enjoyed within a year of purchase, and most everyday reds within two years.
Certain fine wines, however, those with the right structure and balance, have the ability to evolve over time and gain complexity and finer nuances of flavour.
Savouring the wonderfully complex and intense bouquet and flavour of a wine drank at its peak is undoubtedly one of life's greatest pleasures. As with people, the ageing process will vary from wine to wine. Over the years the wine's primary aromas of fresh fruit will develop more complicated and persistent secondary and tertiary aromas. The fruity flavours of, for example, a premier cru white Burgundy will, over time, evolve buttery, toasty and yeast aromas, or fine reds may develop coffee, cedar, tobacco, vegetal, or even 'animal' flavours as they age.
There is much pleasure to be had by experimenting with bottles at different stages of maturity; finding out how a wine evolves with age and, perhaps more importantly, establishing your own preference in terms of taste for mature wine are all part of the interest and excitement of cellaring wine.
The drinking window we provide is a guide to when the wines will be at their best. Many will favour the wines in the youthful early stages of their development; others will enjoy the wines at their most mature.
Decanting is a useful way of softening the tannins, rounding out the flavours and releasing the potential of a young wine. To find out more please visit our Serving Wine guide.
The Society's purpose-built, temperature-controlled Members' Reserves offers members access to optimum storage conditions for their wines.
For more help and advice about how best to enjoy your wines contact us via our enquiry form.
Oak plays a very important role in the production of wine throughout the world. However, the level of oak detectible in a wine can vary depending on a number of factors – for example, the age and size of the barrel and the type of oak used, as well as the length of time the wine is aged in wood. Oak also influences the structure and tannins of the final wine. For wines on our website, we use the following classifications:
This suggests that a wine has either seen no oak at all, or may have been produced using very large, old oak barrels, resulting in a wine that has no taste of oak. Expect these wines to be crisp, fruit-forward and aromatic.
Some oak has been used in the production, yet it has not been a defining factor in the style of the wine. In this instance, the oak may have played more of a part in the structure of the wine but there will still be discreet flavours associated with the use of new oak.
Wines that are defined by and known for their use of new oak. This must not be confused with a wine which is 'overly oaky' as that would purely be down to bad winemaking! We buy only wines that, we believe, use oak in a balanced and appealing way, enhancing flavour and complexity, and/or imparting structure.
How detectable oak is depends a good deal on the size of the barrel and how new it is. New oak provides a much more evident flavour and aroma and must be used carefully. The size of the barrel is important, as the smaller the barrel, the more surface area of the wine is in contact with the wood and the more flavour will be drawn out. Often, very large old oak barrels are used, which impart little or no oak flavour to the wine at all. They will still bring an extra dynamic to the final taste of a wine though, when compared to stainless steel or concrete vessels, as oak is porous and therefore lets a small amount of air into the barrel. This controlled oxidation has a positive effect on wines, softening the tannins and developing secondary flavours, all helping to add a complexity which comes with age.
There are many ways that people rate wines, whether it is on the 100 or 20 point scales, 5 stars, 3 glasses or simply thumbs up or down. The pleasure of a bottle of wine is hard to express in figures, but it does help give the memory of that wine a context, and a way of sharing your opinion with others.
In response to members' requests we have added a star rating option to the site so you can mark your favourites, or maybe those occasional less-than-welcome experiences, and make your next order easier.
You can use the 5-star rating tool to record your experiences however you wish, but if you are looking for some guidance we believe that a focus on the 'value' of the wine takes into account the quality but also the pleasure it provided, and whether it is something you would recommend to friends.