The ‘Clos’ of Champagne

The word Clos in french means, closed, but in wine slang ‘Clos’ is "a closed vineyard where an horse can't pass through with its rider."

Isabel Chuecos-Ruiz. 31/03/2015
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Pascal Doquet in his hometown, next to the famous Clos du Mesnil in the centre of Le Mesnil-sur-Oger. © Copyright Photos: Champagne & Business

It’s difficult to explain why these walls were built around the vineyards. Perhaps to protect them from robberies or from the cold winds. Or more simply, it was a way to ensure continuity closing and identifying a place, as if they wanted to save something they don’t want to lose. Maybe they were closed because belonged to the monks, who were for centuries the biggest producers of wine. Or rather it’s pieces of land seeking notoriety. Interest, collective memory, colonization of a territory.

Although grapes of different vintages and vineyards are mixed in a Champagne, but a Clos Champagne is made from grapes of a single vineyard, which bears its name, producing wines with very specific characteristics of the microclimate. So I decided to review the existing Clos in Champagne and understood that there wasn’t an exhaustive list, that’s why I compiled all of them below:

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Clos du Mesnil, vineyard of Chardonnay. © Copyright Photos: Champagne & Business

1. Clos des Goisses (Mareuil-sur-Aÿ) Champagne Philipponnat, 2. Clos du Mesnil (Mesnil sur Oger) y 3. Clos d’Ambonnay (Ambonnay) Champagne Krug, 4. Clos Saint-Hilaire (Mareuil-sur-Aÿ) Champagne Billecart-Salmon, 5. Clos du Moulin (Chigny les Roses) Champagne Cattier, 6. Clos Cazals (Oger) Champagne Claude Cazals, 7. Clos des Chaulins (Pargny les Reims) Champagne Médot, 8. Clos des Champions (Cumières) Champagne Leclerc Briant, 9. Clos des Plants de Chênes (Moussy) Champagne José Michel, 10. Clos Saint Jacques y Clos Chaudes (Aÿ) Champagne Bollinger, 11. Clos Virgile (Beaumont-sur-Vesle) Champagne Portier, 12. Petit Clos (Bouzy) Champagne Jean Vesselle, 13. Clos l’Abbé (Cramant) Champagne Hubert Soreau, 14. Clos des Faubourgs de Notre Dame (Vertus) Champagne Veuve Fourney, 15. Clos des Bergeronneau y Clos de L’Aurore  (Villledommange) Champagne Florent Bergeronneau-Marion, 16. Clos Lanson (Reims) Champagne Lanson, 17. Clos des Bouveries (Vertus) Duval-Leroy, 18. Clos Barnaut (Bouzy) Champagne Edmond Barnaut, 19. Clos du Château de Bligny Champagne G.H Martel, 20. Clos des Monnaies (Damery) Champagne Goutorbe-Bouillot, 21. Clos Sainte-Sophie (Montgueux) owned by the Valton family that produces Champagne made by Jacques Lassaigne.

Fortunately the Philoxera couldn’t go beyond the walls of two of these famous vineyards: Clos St Jacques and Clos Des Chaudes, both owned by Bollinger.These two vineyards form the legendary Vielles Vignes Françaises and lead to exclusive and prestigious Cuvée with exorbitant prices per bottle.

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Clos du Mesnil, vineyard of Chardonnay. © Copyright Photos: Champagne & Business

Further information about more known Clos Champagne: Clos du Mesnil in Le Mesnil-sur-Oger with 1.84 hectares 100% Chardonnay, or Clos d ‘Ambonnay with only 0.685 hectares, both belonging to Krug. Or the Premier Cru (rating 99%) of Philipponat Clos des Goisses in Mareuil-sur-Ay with is 5,5 hectares is the steepest vineyard in the Champagne. I keep searching and find with two hectares, the Clos St-Hilaire of Billecart-Salmon. Finally remark the only Clos within the city of Reims, which is owned by Lanson since 1976, Clos Lanson.

In the picture, I’m behind the camera with Pascal Doquet next to Clos du Mesnil, a vineyard protected by walls since 1698, a name which tries to conquer the place, marking his territory, setting fire to a name that does not disappear. Identitée, identity, identidad, perhaps all this started when Georges Perec said: «… we would have to name everything … .The space is a doubt: I continually need to mark it, designate, never mine, is never given me, I have to conquer it».

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