The 2021 Vintage at Domaine Clos des Rocs

Clos des Rocs in field

The incoming 2021s from Clos des Rocs offer a bright, classically built, chiseled rendering of the domaine’s impressive holdings.

When we began working with Olivier Giroux and his Domaine Clos des Rocs almost a decade ago, we knew we had a future star on our hands. His home appellation of Pouilly-Loché may remain little known, but Olivier’s hugely expressive single-site bottlings stand comfortably alongside any white Burgundies from those pricier zip codes to the north. Furthermore, rather than hewing to the modish hyper-reductivity mold, Olivier’s wines are effusive, reveling in their Maconnais lusciousness while simultaneously delivering a frank and profound minerality.

Over the years, Oliver’s wines have improved from an already high bar. He has always been inordinately tough on himself, but his verbal self-flagellation during our cellar tastings seems never to align with the astonishing quality and personality of each successive cuvée we encounter. Olivier’s minimal approach to batonnage, his judicious oak regimen, and his sparing touch with sulfur allow the underlying glowing health of his fruit—farmed without chemicals since he acquired the estate in the early 2000s—to be showcased unencumbered.

Aside from one Pouilly-Loché which blends several separate parcels, all of Olivier’s wines are single-site offerings, with several sourced from richer alluvial soils on one side of a geological fault and several others from poorer Jurassic limestone on the opposite side. The former wines tend to be more fruit-driven whereas the latter are more intensely mineral, but all offer a vividness and balance that is very much a hallmark of the domaine. In addition to his six hectares of Pouilly-Loché, Olivier owns six hectares spread among holdings in Macon-Loché and Macon-Fuissé from which he produces stunning exemplars of these relatively humble appellations.

The domaine is anchored by the Clos des Rocs itself, an east-facing slope adjacent to the winery with 85-year-old Chardonnay vines growing in soils beautifully balanced between limestone and clay, streaked with iron and littered with stones. Here, as with all his vineyards, trees and fields surround the vines—a stark and welcome contrast to the relative monoculture of the Côte d’Or. Ever in search of greater expressiveness and healthier vineyards, Olivier began biodynamic conversion in earnest with the 2021 growing season after several years of thoughtful experimentation.

The first few years of our partnership, though we purchased with gratitude as much as he would offer us, Oliver’s wines occasionally took time to find an audience. In some ways this was a blessing in disguise as they only blossomed with some time in bottle, but those days are now long behind us, and each vintage now justly sells through long before the arrival of the successive one. The incoming 2021s from Clos des Rocs offer a bright, classically built, chiseled rendering of the domaine’s impressive holdings. Rather than being hamstrung by the growing season’s arduous weather, Olivier shepherded into existence a collection of wines as detailed and satisfying as ever, with perhaps even more finesse than usual.

More on Domaine Clos des Rocs here.