2017 Gevrey-Chambertin, Les Evocelles, Domaine de la Vougeraie, Burgundy
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Domaine de la Vougeraie
Domaine de la Vougeraie is part of our Spotlight on sustainability series. You can view the full range here.
Domaine de la Vougeraie, based in Premeaux just south of Nuits St Georges, was created in 1999 when Jean-Claude Boisset of the Boisset group decided to group together all the vineyard holdings of his various negociant companies acquired over the years. The name comes from the significant holdings – and indeed Jean-Claude Boisset’s home – in the village of Vougeot. The winery is located however in the old Claudine Deschamps (Madame Jean-Claude Boisset) cellars in Prémeaux. The domaine was put together from the various vineyard holdings which had accrued through the Boisset acquisitions of Burgundian houses over the years. Pascal Marchand was put in charge in 1999, with Bernard Zito in the vineyards, which were farmed biodynamically. Pascal produced powerful wines, fairly heavily extracted in his early vintages but clearly was subsequently moving to a softer approach by 2004.
With nearly 40 hectares of vineyard and over 30 different appellations, including six grand crus (Musigny, Bonnes Mares, Clos Vougeot, Charmes Chambertin, Mazoyères, Corton Clos du Roi and Corton Charlemagne), this is one of Burgundy’s leading domaines.
No expense has been spared in production terms. The premier and grand cru vineyards are all farmed biodynamically with carefully limited yields. The cellar has been equipped with a battery of new or renovated wooden fermentation vats, a state of the art sorting table and a new model of the old fashioned vertical press which is thought to be the best option for red wines. The wines were made by Pascal Marchand of Comte Armand in Pommard, from 1999 to 2005 and subsequently by Pierre Vincent who has maintained the more delicate approach. The grapes are sorted on one of the longest tables de tri I have seen, before being given a cool pre-maceration. During fermentation Pierre punches down only once a day, much less than Pascal used to. The temperature is maintained at 26º-28ºC/79-81ºF after fermentation to polymerise the tannins and fix the colour. The Musigny is destemmed by hand. Starting in 2008 he has begun to experiment with some whole bunch fermentation, though only for a proportion of a given cuvée.
Gevrey-Chambertin is the largest wine-producing village in Burgundy’s Côte d'Or, with its vineyards spilling over into the next door commune of Brochon.
Located in the far north of the Côtes de Nuits above Morey-St Denis, classic Gevrey-Chambertin is typically deeper in colour, firmer in body and more tannic in structure than most red Burgundy. The best can develop into the richest, most complete and long-lived Pinot Noir in the world. This is largely thanks to the iron-rich clay soils, though much depends on whether the vineyard is located on either the steeper slopes (Evocelles, Clos St Jacques) or the flatter, richer soils (Clos Prieur, Combottes).
Whereas in the past there have been numerous underperformers in Gevrey-Chambertin exploiting the reputation of this famous village and its iconic Grands Crus, today there are many fine sources to choose from, and overall quality is higher than ever.
Gevrey-Chambertin’s greatest Grand Cru is named after the field of the monk Bertin (Champ de Bertin). In 1847, Gevrey appended the name of this illustrious vineyard, Chambertin, setting a trend for the other principle villages to follow. Le Chambertin may not be quite as sumptuous as Musigny or Richebourg, or as divinely elegant as La Tâche or Romanée-St Vivant, but it is matched only by the legendary Romanée-Conti for completeness and luscious intensity.
In all, Gevrey boasts an impressive nine Grands Crus, with the name of Chambertin retaining a regal omnipresence throughout its finest vineyard names. The other truly great Grand Cru is Chambertin-Clos de Bèze which has the right to sell its wines simply as ‘Chambertin’, and is the only wine allowed to put the Chambertin name before, rather than after, its own. Situated slightly further up the hill, the wines are fractionally less powerful yet full of sensual charm and finesse.
Quality-wise the next best are generally acknowledged to be Mazis-Chambertin and Latricières-Chambertin. The former is incredibly concentrated and very fine, but its structure is a little less firm than Le Chambertin. Latricières is less about power (although it can be explosively fruity) and more about an entrancing silkiness.
Situated slightly higher up the slope, Ruchottes-Chambertin is impressively rich, stylish and slightly angular. The tiny Griottes-Chambertin, which owes its name to the grill-pan shape of the vineyard rather than the wine’s griotte cherry aroma, is lower down the slope and boasts a velvety texture and rich fruit reminiscent of Chambertin itself. It is generally better than the lighter, although wonderfully fragrant Chapelle-Chambertin and Gevrey’s largest Grand Cru, the pure and seductive (if variable) Charmes-Chambertin.
Gevrey also has some outstanding Premier Crus on the south-east-facing slopes above the town. Les Cazetiers and especially Clos St Jacques produce some exceptional wines. Indeed Armand Rousseau, who pioneered domaine bottling here in the 1930s and is still one of the region’s very best producers, often sells his Clos St Jacques for more than several of his Grand Crus.
Drinking dates for these wines vary, but Grand Crus are generally best from at least 10 to 25 years, Premier Crus from eight to 20 years, and village wines from five to 12 years.
- 315 hectares of village Gevrey Chambertin
- 84 hectares of Premier Cru vineyards (20 in all). The foremost vineyards include Clos St Jacques, Lavaux St Jacques, Combottes, Corbeaux, Cherbaudes, Cazetiers.
- 55 hectares of Grand Cru vineyards: Chambertin, Chambertin Clos de Bèze, Latricières-Chambertin, Ruchottes-Chambertin, Mazis-Chambertin, Charmes-Chambertin, Mazoyères-Chambertin, Chapelle-Chambertin, Griottes-Chambertin..
- Recommended producers: Bachelet, Dugat, Esmonin, Mortet, Rossignol Trapet, Rousseau, Serafin, Bernstein
- Recommended restaurants : Chez Guy (good wine list), Rôtisserie du Chambertin (and Bistro)
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.
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Sylvie Poillot, General Manager, farms the estate’s 42 hectares biodynamically. “We do this to preserve the fertility of soils, and to have a very good balance between the soil and the plant’s health,” she explains. It’s not just the soil health that’s changed: two decades on from their conversion to biodynamics, the wines are evolving too: “The wines are more aromatic and more expressive year after year,” she says.Evocelles usually presents a mineral edge, but this year the wine is pure and creamy, with an appealing lifted freshness and, to be honest, is just simply rather charming. There is no whole-bunch this year (from 50 percent last year), allowing, I suspect, clearer sight of the wine’s more genial side. Drink 2020-2024.
Based in Prémeaux, just south of Nuits-St Georges, Domaine de la Vougeraie was created in 1999 when Jean-Claude Boisset decided to group together all the vineyard holdings of the various négociant companies he had acquired over the years. Pascal Marchand was put in charge in 1999, with Bernard Zito in the vineyards, which are farmed biodynamically. Pascal produced powerful wines, fairly heavily extracted in his early vintages but clearly moving to a softer style by 2004. The wines came of age under Pierre Vincent, who maintained the more delicate approach. He departed after the 2016 vintage, leaving behind a crack team, led by the redoubtable Sylvie Poillot. Top-quality vineyards continue to be added, especially Grand Cru whites in recent vintages.
Pierre Vincent may now be fully installed at Domaine Leflaive, but his legacy is still firmly in place here, with the team he left behind brilliantly stepping up to the mark. They felt that the speed of the harvest was vital this year – no threat with their three teams of pickers, one based each in the Côte de Nuits and the Côte de Beaune, and another to shuttle between the two, to wherever it was most needed. They began with the whites on 28th August, finishing 16 days later in the Côte de Nuits. They decided the resulting wines, especially the whites, required less new oak; allowing greater fruit purity.
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