Clos de la Roche

Clos de la Roche is the most northerly of Morey-Saint-Denis’ four grand cru vineyards. It is located on the slopes of the Côte d’Or escarpment, above the Route des Grands Crus road (the D122), and covers 16.9 hectares (42 acres) of Pinot Noir vines – more than twice that of Clos Saint-Denis to the south.

Clos de la Roche is considered as one of Morey-Saint-Denis’ best climats, and makes plump, structured wines with cherry and truffle characters.

The original Clos de la Roche vineyard site (or climat) covers only around 4.5 hectares (11 acres), 500m (0.3 miles) due north of the center of Morey village. When the appellations rules concerning the vineyard were produced in 1936, it was decided to include six other, neighboring climats, or parts of climats.

Of the six vineyards that make up the wider Clos de la Roche title, Les Chabiots (bordering the northern edge of Morey village), Les Fremières, Les Frochots and Les Mochamps are entirely given over to the grand cru.

The remaining two, on the western portion of the vineyard, are split, being considered grand cru around the Clos de la Roche site and premier cru on the upper slopes of the Côte d’Or escarpment. These are: Les Genavrières and Monts Luisants.

This expansion of the Clos de la Roche means it is now one of the larger grand cru sites on the Côte d’Or, beaten only by Corton, Clos de Vougeot, Echezeaux and its close neighbor to the north, Charmes-Chambertin.

The terroir in Clos de la Roche is based largely on limestone, with the lower slope underlaid with Bajocian marl from the middle Jurassic while the steeper, western, portions of the site are Bathonian (slightly newer, but still from the mid-Jurassic age, 160 to 170 million years ago)

The thin topsoils, which vary from tens of centimeters to around one meter in depth, are composed of pebbly limestone and clay over the solid limestone subsoil.

This, combined with the gentle easterly slope of the site, makes for good drainage and exposure to the morning and midday sun. The result is healthy, strong vines that produce high-quality berries with good concentration.

The names of all of Morey’s vineyards – as is the case with most Burgundy communes – are full of historical and religious references. The Clos de la Roche is no exception, although its origins are much earlier than those of Clos de Tart and Clos Saint-Denis.

In the days before Christianity reached eastern France, the “roche” (rock) in question is reputed to have been used by local druids in their ritual sacrifices. Whether this piece of folklore is accurate or not is hard to ascertain, and the more believable alternative is that the name is a reference to the stony soils in the vineyard.

The original “clos” (a wall encompassing the vineyard) has long since disappeared.

Estates with major holdings in the vineyard include Domaine Ponsot, Domaine Dujac, and Domaine Armand Rousseau.