2018 Bâtard-Montrachet, Grand Cru, 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.
Puligny was one of two villages (along with Chassagne) which gained permission in 1879 to hyphenate the name of its most famous vineyard, Montrachet, to its own.
The reputation of Puligny-Montrachet is based around its four Grands Crus. Montrachet labels often boast a noble, triumphant ‘Le’ in front of its name, lest you dare confuse it with any lesser wine. It has much to be proud of, with many considering Montrachet to be the greatest white wine in the world. At its best it has an intensity, complexity and elegance that make you wonder how such a wine could be made from mere grapes.
The luxurious and explosive Chevalier-Montrachet is not quite as deep, although it is probably the next best. Only marginally less impressive, and rather more consistent than Montrachet is the richly textured Bâtard-Montrachet (also shared with Chassagne). Bienvenues-Bâtard-Montrachet is equally good, with the focus on honeyed finesse and exquisite balance rather than richness.
These legendary wines are supported by a host of fabulous Premier Cru vineyards capable of reaching Grand Cru quality. Brimming with flavour and intensity, Le Cailleret and Les Pucelles (which both lie across the road from Le Montrachet) are prime candidates, along with Les Demoiselles, Les Combettes and Folatières.
Sandwiched between the larger Chassagne and Meursault, Puligny produces wines that are more striking than any in the Côte d’Or, portraying a floral elegance alongside a stylish, steely concentration. They are very different to Meursault: more refined and delicate, and less rich.
Village level Puligny-Montrachet from top growers can be very good indeed, but is all too often unexciting and disappointing. Grands Crus normally need at least eight years before they can be broached, and last for 20 or more. Premiers Crus should generally be enjoyed between five and 15 years of age; village wines from three to 10 years.
In theory, you can find red Puligny-Montrachet, but it scarcely exists anymore, and is rarely worth the price tag.
- 114 hectares of village Puligny-Montrachet
- 100 hectares of Premier Cru vineyards (17 in all). The best vineyards include Les Demoiselles, Le Cailleret, Les Pucelles, Les Combettes, Les Folatières
- 21 hectares of Grand Cru vineyards: Le Montrachet (part), Chevalier-Montrachet, Bâtard-Montrachet (part), Bienvenues-Bâtard-Montrachet
- Recommended Producers: Leflaive, Carillon
- Recommended Restaurant: Le Montrachet (excellent cuisine and good wine list; also an hotel)
Chardonnay is the "Big Daddy" of white wine grapes and one of the most widely planted in the world. It is suited to a wide variety of soils, though it excels in soils with a high limestone content as found in Champagne, Chablis, and the Côte D`Or.
Burgundy is Chardonnay's spiritual home and the best White Burgundies are dry, rich, honeyed wines with marvellous poise, elegance and balance. They are unquestionably the finest dry white wines in the world. Chardonnay plays a crucial role in the Champagne blend, providing structure and finesse, and is the sole grape in Blanc de Blancs.
It is quantitatively important in California and Australia, is widely planted in Chile and South Africa, and is the second most widely planted grape in New Zealand. In warm climates Chardonnay has a tendency to develop very high sugar levels during the final stages of ripening and this can occur at the expense of acidity. Late picking is a common problem and can result in blowsy and flabby wines that lack structure and definition.
Recently in the New World, we have seen a move towards more elegant, better- balanced and less oak-driven Chardonnays, and this is to be welcomed.
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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.This is sourced from two parcels, 0.2 hectares in all, both on the Chassagne side, planted in 1970 and ’85. The wine has a nose of orange blossom and barley sugar, but there is good freshness too. Well-judged. Drink 2025-2035.
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