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2011 Bourgogne Rouge Halinard, Domaine Dugat-Py
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Dugat-Py is a high class Gevrey-Chambertin Domaine that has risen to prominence in the last 10 years. It was run for many years by Pierre Dugat and, astonishingly, only began estate bottling in 1989. It is now run by Pierre's son Bernard, who is recognised as one of the shrewdest winemakers on the Côte. The Domaine consists of 5 hectares of vineyards and includes holdings in several Premiers Crus sites and 3 Grands Crus. Bernard Dugat-Py, wife Joscelyne and son Loïc, are based at the Aulmônerie, whose cellars were constructed in the 12th century to store wine for the Abbey of St Benigné in Dijon. With rapturous praise emanating especially from across the Atlantic, this is perhaps even more of a cult domaine than that of Bernard’s cousin Claude Dugat. I was a little sceptical, having tasted some wines at then years old which seemed to have dried out, making me fear over extraction. However a visit to the domaine in November 2009 changed my thinking.
The key to the success is in the vineyard with exceptionally meticulous control of the work, there being five people working full time on 10 hectares. The vines are for the most part extremely old, averaging 65 years old across the domaine, and all the trimming is done by hand, while a horse is used to plough a few of the vineyards. Replanting is done with selections from their own vine stock, never with clones. The domaine has been fully organic since 2003 while son Loïc has been doing some biodynamic work with consultant Paul Masson. The wines are vinified with as little intervention as possible and are bottled unfined and unfiltered. "I don't like opulent wines; I like elegant wines", says Dugat. Consequently, the wines are concentrated, yet extremely stylish and well balanced. The wines are very approachable in youth but show at their best with 5-8 years of bottle ageing.
Contrary to some practitioners of deep-coloured wines in Gevrey-Chambertin, the grapes are picked relatively early. Stems are usually kept, depending on the vintage, though to a lesser degree for the Charmes-Chambertin whose primary fruit would be masked by the stalks. There is no cool pre-maceration, except whatever may happen naturally, one punch down and one pump over per day during fermentation in cement and wooden vats, and temperatures are not maintained after the fermentation is over. All in all, it is a low intervention regime. The wines are then matured in François Frères barrel, all new from the premiers crus upwards.
Recent expansion into the Côte de Beaune has seen the addition of Pommard and some white wines from Meursault and Chassagne-Montrachet.
Jasper Morris MW, Burgundy Wine Director and author of the award-winning Inside Burgundy comprehensive handbook.
Pinot Noir is probably the most frustrating, and at times infuriating, wine grape in the world. However when it is successful, it can produce some of the most sublime wines known to man. This thin-skinned grape which grows in small, tight bunches performs well on well-drained, deepish limestone based subsoils as are found on Burgundy's Côte d'Or.
Pinot Noir is more susceptible than other varieties to over cropping - concentration and varietal character disappear rapidly if yields are excessive and yields as little as 25hl/ha are the norm for some climats of the Côte d`Or.
Because of the thinness of the skins, Pinot Noir wines are lighter in colour, body and tannins. However the best wines have grip, complexity and an intensity of fruit seldom found in wine from other grapes. Young Pinot Noir can smell almost sweet, redolent with freshly crushed raspberries, cherries and redcurrants. When mature, the best wines develop a sensuous, silky mouth feel with the fruit flavours deepening and gamey "sous-bois" nuances emerging.
The best examples are still found in Burgundy, although Pinot Noir`s key role in Champagne should not be forgotten. It is grown throughout the world with notable success in the Carneros and Russian River Valley districts of California, and the Martinborough and Central Otago regions of New Zealand.
Bourgogne Rouge is the term used to apply to red wines from Burgundy that fall under the generic Bourgogne AOC, which can be produced by over 350 individual villages across the region. As with Bourgogne Blanc and Bourgogne Rosé, this is a very general appellation and thus is hard to pinpoint any specific characteristics of the wine as a whole, due to the huge variety of wines produced.
Around 4,600 acres of land across Burgundy are used to produce Bourgogne Rouge, which is around twice as much as is dedicated towards the production of generic whites.
Pinot Noir is the primary grape used in Bourgogne Rouge production, although Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris and in Yonne, César grapes are all also permitted to make up the rest of the wine. These wines tend to be focused and acidic, with the fruit less cloying than in some New World wines also made from Pinot Noir, and they develop more floral notes as they age.
Although an entry-level wine, some Bourgogne Rouges can be exquisite depending on the area and producer, and yet at a very affordable price.