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2003 Volnay, Robardelles, Carre Courbin Domaine Carré-Courbin
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Domaine Carre Courbin is an exciting newcomer to our list. It is based in Beaune but with excellent vineyard sites in Volnay and Pommard. Previous generations of the Carré family have not produced much to get excited about but Philippe & Maëlle, who took over in 1995, and have since moved to much more serviceable premises in Beaune, have changed all that. Philippe looks after the vineyards and the élevage; his wife Maëlle is responsible for the vinification and the commercial side.
Philippe & Maëlle are rutheless in their pursuit of quality - Yields are severely restrictred and the wines are bottled as gently and naturally as possible. They produce some superb wines, beautifully representing the different vineyard characteristics. Tasting their Volnay and Pommard side by side gives a textbook illustration of the difference between these two neighbouring villages.The range of exciting red wines (plus a few barrels of white) is developing but quantities are very small.
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.
The finest and most elegant red wines of the Côte de Beaune are grown in Volnay, a village which might be twinned with Chambolle- Musigny in the Côte de Nuits, for the high active chalk content in the soil and comparatively low clay content.Whereas in earlier times Volnay was made in a particularly light, early drinking style, these days there are many producers making wines which age extremely well. The best vineyards run either side of the RN73 trunk road.