Jasper Morris MW, Inside Burgundy (January 2022)
About this WINE
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.
Bourgogne Blanc is the appellation used to refer to generic white wines from Burgundy, a wide term which allows 384 separate villages to produce a white wine with the label ‘Bourgogne.’ As a result of this variety, Bourgogne Blanc is very hard to characterise with a single notable style, however the wines are usually dominated by the presence of Chardonnay, which is just about the only common factor between them. That being said, Chardonnay itself varies based on the environmental factors, so every bottle of Bourgogne Blanc will vary in some way from the next! Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris are also permitted for use in Bourgogne Blanc under the regulations of the appellation.
As Bourgogne Blanc is very much an entry-level white wine for most regions in Burgundy, prices are usually very reasonable, and due to the terroir and climate of Burgundy, Bourgogne Blanc wines tend to have a strong acidity to them, combined with a vibrant and often fruity palate when compared with other whites from the New World, say, allowing fantastic matchmaking with many different kinds of food.
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.