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2013 Clos Vougeot, Vieilles Vignes, Château de La Tour
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The name Château de la Tour denotes the ‘other’ building in the Clos de Vougeot after the famous monastic cellar which is now the headquarters of the Confrerie des Chevaliers du tastevin. This building was constructed in 1890 by a Monsieur Beaudet of Beaune, whose daughter married Jean Morin of Nuits St Georges. Morin was quite an accomplished sportsman, appearing in both the summer and winter Olympics of 1948. His daughters married respectively into the Labet and Déchelette families, Pierre Labet himself owning a domaine based in Beaune. Currently Francois Labet is responsible for both the wines of Domaine Pierre Labet and Château de la Tour, made in the Château’s commodious winery and cellars inside the walls of Clos de Vougeot.
The holding of Clos de Vougeot covers 5.48ha in all, including one plot of approximately one hectare of ancient vines planted in 1910. Part of this is used for a limited edition vieilles vignes cuvée, typically amounting to 8 barrels worth (2400 bottles) while the remainder will be incorporated into the cuvée classique.
The domaine has been farmed organically since 1992. Francois Labet prefers to control yields by rubbing out every second bud, which gives a well spaced out canopy, and does not approve of systematic green harvesting or leaf plucking. The grapes are then sorted to remove anything undesirable, placed as whole bunches in the fermenting vats, lightly sprinkled with sulphur, cooled to 6 or 7°C and left for a week to begin fermenting on their own. Thereafter the must is kept at a maximum of 28-29°C and as soon as fermentation is over the juice is removed, to avoid any post-fermentation maceration which might unleash harsh tannins from the stems. The wines are then aged in barrel, using approximately 50% new wood for the regular cuvée and 100% for the old vines. All the barrels now come from Chassin, the previous sole supplier having been let go.
So far the domaine has not created waves on the international scene, but perhaps this is just round the corner. Certainly Francois Labet and his team seem to be taking considerable pains to produce fine wines. Perhaps the stems prevent the wines from showing a competitive seductiveness when young.
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.
Most of the wine produced in this small village comes from a single, walled Grand Cru vineyard, the famous Clos de Vougeot. The vineyard in its present form dates from 1336 (when it was first planted by monks of Cîteaux), although it was not until the following century that it was entirely enclosed by stone walls.Clos de Vougeot is both the smallest commune and the largest Clos in the Cote d’Or. It consists of 50 hectares of vineyards shared among 82 owners, with six soil types. There is quite a difference in quality between the upper (best) and lower (least fine) parts of the vineyard, though in medieval times a blend from all sectors was considered optimum.
Le Domaine de la Vougeraie makes a very fine white wine from Le Clos Blanc de Vougeot, first picked out by the monks of Cîteaux as being suitable ground for white grapes in the year 1110.
- Five hectares of village Vougeot
- 12 hectares of Premier Cru vineyards (four in all): Les Cras, Les Petits-Vougeots, Clos de la Perrière and Clos Blanc de Vougeot
- 51 hectares of Grand Cru vineyard – Clos de Vougeot
- Recommended producers: Domaine de la Vougeraie, Domaine Bertagna, Engel, Anne Gros, Grivot, Liger-Belair, Meo-Camuzet.