The Domaine Comte de Vogüé
dates back to 1450 when Jean Moisson constructed the original building. The property stayed in the same family, passing through the female line from time to time until a Catherine Bouhier married Cerice-Melchior de Vogüé in 1766. Somehow the family, though in exile in England, managed to retain control of the domaine during the French revolution. Modern history and the current label begin with Comte Georges de Vogüé who took over in 1925. The first heyday of the domaine came during the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. The domaine owns 7.25 hectares of the fabled Le Musigny
vineyard which constitutes 80% of the whole site. In addition, it has 2.75 hectares of Bonnes-Mares
and 1.8 hectares of Premier Cru Chambolle-Musigny
Under the aegis of estate manager Jean-Luc Pepin
, with winemaker François Millet
and the aptly named Eric Bourgogne
in the vineyards, this domaine currently cannot put a foot wrong; it ranks amongst the very best Burgundy houses. Tastings at de Vogüé have become a perverse highlight of any buying trip - nobody is allowed to taste unless François is present. In his exemplary measured English François will distill the essence of each vintage in a mixture of metaphysical and anthropomorphic metaphors.
The average age of vines in Le Musigny is 40 years old and all is labelled as Vieilles Vignes
. This is Red Burgundy at its sublime best - marvellously perfumed, rich, ripe fruit, perfectly balanced and exquisitely harmonious. The best wines will keep for up to 50 years.
The vineyards are run more or less organically by Eric Bourgogne and his team, though they do not claim organic status. There is a mix of guyot and cordon training, in either case pruned for low yields. In the cellar François Millet will adapt techniques to suit the year. He likes a cool pre-maceration since glycerol is enhanced during this phase. Thereafter the temperature during fermentation should not exceed 32-33ºc. The oak regime is light on new wood: typically 15% for the village Chambolle and 35% for the grands crus, occasionally a little more.
Le Musigny (7.20ha inc. white vines) 6.55ha
Bonnes Mares 2.70ha
Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru Les Amoureuses 0.56ha
Chambolle Musigny (inc. 0.24ha 1er cru) 2.04ha
BourgogneBlanc/Musigny Blanc 0.65ha
Bourgogne Blanc/Musigny Blanc
Currently the vines date from between 1986 and 1997, plus two patches which have been topgrafted over from pinot in 2006 and 2008. The last vintage of old vine Musigny Blanc was 1993, since which time the wine has been sold simply as Bourgogne Blanc – though we must be close to the return of the Musigny designation.
The bulk of the production comes from Les Porlottes, a hillside vineyard, to which are added the grapes from very small holdings of premiers crus Les Baudes and Les Fuées.
Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru
This cuvée is entirely made from the younger vines, for example those up to 25 years old, of Le Musigny. The young vines have the advantage that the finest plant material was selected. A mini Musigny, with the class and elegance but not the weight or power.
Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru Les Amoureuses
For once the domaine does not have the lion’s share of the vineyard. Most of their holding was replanted in 1974, with one patch dating back to 1964 – so the vines are becoming nicely mature. The de Vogüé example shares the magical, explosive , sensual qualities of other great Amoureuses bottlings.
The de Vogüé holding is mostly in one substantial block beginning in the south-east (bottom left) corner of Bonnes Mares, thus on the red soil part of the vineyard, giving quiet a different character to the rest of the range. There are various dates of planting between 1945 and 1995. As in other Chambolle cellars, the Bonnes Mares always tastes a little out of line compared to village Chambolle, les Amoureuses and Musigny, especially in texture. There is frequently a fascinating aromatic quality, very floral, perhaps suggesting peonies.
The domaine owns the whole of the Petits Musigny block (4.19ha) and a substantial chunk of Grands Musigny. There is no excuse not to make one of Burgundy’s very greatest wines, and fortunately there have been some magnificent wines under the current regime, as well as in the distant past. How can such density of flavour be achieved without any feeling of heaviness? It is rarely a black fruit wine, but it unquestionably reaches the heights of grandeur. Fine vintages should not be touched for 15 years and 25 would be better.