Domaine de la Vougeraie
 

Sylvie Poillot leads the team at Domaine de la Vougeraie, whose vineyards run the length of the Côte d’Or. She tells us what it takes to run such an intricate operation.

Domaine de la Vougeraie was established in 1999 by négociant Jean-Claude Boisset, bringing together three decades’ worth of vineyard acquisitions across the Côte d’Or. Today, the domaine extends over 42 hectares, with holdings in no less than nine Grand Crus. “It’s a big estate,” says Sylvie Poillot, General Manager and leader of the winemaking team, “but we manage it like a family.”

 
 

Biodynamics at Vougeraie

 

Since its inception, the domaine has been farmed organically. Vintage 2001 saw the first steps into biodynamics; the entire estate is now biodynamic in all but certification. “It would be great for us to be certified,” Sylvie says. “The problem is that I don’t have enough time to do the paperwork!” Third-party certification aside, the estate is a model for biodynamic viticulture: it’s got its own herb garden and plants are dried on-site for biodynamic preparations. “We did the 500P [cow horn] infusion two weeks ago, and to prevent disease we spray an infusion of lavender and lemongrass.” The lunar calendar plays an important role, guiding the timing of practices in the vineyard and cellar. “We do bâtonnage (lees stirring) when the moon is ascending,” she explains, “and we try to do our tastings on fruit days, when you get more expression.”

 
 

Teamwork in the Côte d’Or

 

Sylvie heads up a team of 30. Her role involves day-to-day management and administration as well as winemaking, vineyard management and plenty more besides. The domaine operates a rather flat management structure with a lot of team decision-making. “We’re a little bit unusual,” she admits. “I’m the General Manager, but I work with everybody. We make decisions together.”
The domaine is expansive, with holdings running virtually the entire length of the Côte d’Or, from Gevrey-Chambertin to Chassagne-Montrachet. Two vineyard teams work in tandem: one works the Côte de Nuits from a base in Morey-Saint-Denis. The other, based in Beaune, covers the Côte de Beaune. “It requires a lot of organisation,” Sylvie says. Things get even more complex at harvest. “We have three teams for the harvest, and we organise it two months beforehand. With so many plots, maturity control is very important: it’s vital to know which parcel needs to be harvested at what time.”

The Vougeraie range

 

With such an enviable swathe of prized vineyards, the estate naturally produces some remarkable wines. Sylvie and the team produce 37 individual cuvées each year. “It’s not difficult, it’s just about organisation.” Among the most celebrated is the Clos Blanc de Vougeot, a Premier Cru monopole (solely owned by the domaine) producing the only white wine in Vougeot. “It’s been Chardonnay-only since the Cistercian monks planted it – nine centuries ago.” There’s also a not-insubstantial 1.052-hectare holding in the neighbouring Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru. Another notable Grand Cru is their Musigny, where they have just over 0.2 hectares. “We make three barrels in a good year.” With so many wines, has Sylvie got a favourite? “They’re like our babies,” she says, with more affection than diplomacy. “We love them all!”