About this WINE
Domaine du Prieure Roch
It is hard to know what to make of this Burgundy wine domaine which was created by Henri-Frédéric Roch in 1988 by buying some parcels of vineyards which Domaine de la Romanée-Conti – of which his family is part-owner – was selling, in order to buy the large slice of Romanée St-Vivant Domaine Marey-Monge which it had been farming. The Prieuré part of the name has been added because Monsieur Roch liked the sound of it. The Chambertin-Clos de Bèze has been leased from Domaine Marion in Fixin since 1994.
The vines are farmed organically with half an eye on biodynamics. The grapes are vinified with all their stems in wooden vats, with old-style human punching down (rip the clothes off and leap in but be careful of the carbon dioxide). No sulphur is used at all at any stage except once, when the wines are racked.
The barrels in the cellar in Prémeaux are kept at a tilt that looks untidy to those used to rows of perfectly aligned barrels, but has the practical purpose of encouraging the sediment of the fine lees to gather in one spot, below the tap-hole through which the wine will eventually be racked. At the moment the wines are kept for a maximum of 24 months in barrel because there is not the space for a third vintage in the cellar, but Henri-Frédéric Roch and his right-hand man, Yannick Champ, are evidently tempted. One batch from 2002 was kept in wood for 44 months as a trial. Barrel tasting is no longer allowed, so my experience of the Roch wines is from bottle.
One person will be fascinated by the practices at this domaine, another may mock. Is this cutting edge, or are they out where the buses don’t run? The proof of the pudding is in the wines themselves, once bottled, and if you can afford them.
Chambertin-Clos de Bèze, Grand Cru 1.01ha, Clos de Vougeot, Grand Cru 0.68ha, Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Les Suchots 1.02ha, Nuits-St-Georges 1er Cru Les Corvées 5.21ha, Vosne-Romanée Les Clous 0.72ha, Vosne-Romanée Clos Goillotte 0.55ha, Vosne-Romanée Hautes Maizières 0.63ha
Jasper Morris MW, Burgundy Wine Director
Nuits Saint Georges
Originally known as Nuits, or even Nuits-sous-Beaune, the town was happy to add the name of its finest vineyard, Les St Georges, in the 19th century. There are no Grands Crus, but many fine Premier Cru vineyards, the mayor of the time – Henri Gouges – preferring not to single out any vineyard for the highest status.The wines of Nuits-St Georges vary according to their exact provenance. Those of the hamlet of Prémeaux, considered to be part of Nuits-St Georges for viticultural purposes, are often on the lighter side.
The richest and most sought-after are those just south of Nuits-St Georges such as Les Vaucrains, Les Cailles and Les St Georges itself. The third sector, including Les Murgers, Les Damodes and Les Boudots are at the Vosne-Romanée end of the village, and demonstrate some of the extra finesse associated with Vosne.
Several domaines (Gouges, Rion, Arlot) now produce a white Nuits-St Georges from Pinot Blanc or Chardonnay.
- 175 hectares of village Nuits-St Georges
- 143 hectares of Premier Cru vineyards (20 in all). Best vineyards include Les St Georges, and Clos des Argillières and Clos de la Maréchale in Prémeaux
- Recommended producers: Gouges, Rion, Liger Belair, Potel
- Recommended restaurant : La Cabotte (small but stylish)
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.