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2012 Bourgogne Rouge, Domaine Ghislaine Barthod
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Ghislaine Barthod's domaine originates in the 1920s with Marcel Noëllat whose daughter married Gaston Barthod, a soldier stationed in Dijon who came to buy some wine and got the girl as well. He gave up military life for the vineyards in 1960. His daughter, Ghislaine, and her partner Louis Boillot bought their current premises overlooking 1er cru Les Feusselottes in 1986. Though they share the team who work the vineyards for both of them, the vinification and commercial aspects of their businesses are kept completely separate. Ghislaine's father Gaston died in 1999, yet effectively Ghislaine had been making the wine for the last decade or so.
The grapes are destalked, allowed a brief cool soak, then fermented with more punching down than pumping over. Barrel maturation does not rely on new oak, with no more than 30% for the premiers crus. The wines are usually bottled after 18 months, after one racking.
The strength of the domaine is the range of Chambolle wines, with eight separate premier cru bottlings. While each wine displays the idiosyncracies of its particular terroir, the overall effect of tasting at the domaine is to come away with a palate coated in sensual Chambolle fruit. There is an adorable Bourgogne Rouge as well, from the Bons Bâtons vineyard across the main road. Ghislaine Barthod's wines are always supremely elegant and harmonious and display admirable concentration and length. The best examples can age gracefully for up to twenty years.
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.