About this WINE
Domaine Rapet Pere et Fils
The long established Domaine Rapet (it makes much of a family tastevin dating back to 1765) covers 18 hectares in all, with grands crus Corton-Charlemagne, Corton and Corton Pougets, premiers crus Le Clos du Village, Sous Frétille and En Caradeux in white, along with red Les Vergelesses, Ile de Vergeleses and three from Beaune – Clos du Roi, Bressandes and Grèves. With Vincent, son of Roland, at the helm and a new cuverie to work in, quality is high at the moment. They are fortunate to own over two hectares of their flagship appellation, Corton-Charlemagne.
There are two specific Charlemagne vineyards, En Charlemagne and Le Charlemagne, making up half the Corton-Charlemagne appellation, while white grapes grown in seven other vineyards (see list below) may also be sold as Corton-Charlemagne. As a result there can be a wide divergence in style between a south-facing location such as Pougets, which needs picking right at the start of the harvest, and the western slopes in Pernand-Vergelesses which might be picked several weeks later. The underlying similarity though comes from the minerality of the soil.
En Charlemagne lies at the border with Aloxe-Corton. The hillside faces west and fine, racy white wines can be made, but the Grand Cru appellation has been extended right up to the village of Pernand itself, by which time the exposition is north-west and the valley has become noticeably more enclosed. The final sector was only promoted in 1966, and probably should not have been.
Le Charlemagne is the absolute heartland of the appellation, facing south-west, thus avoiding the risk of over-ripeness which can afflict the vines exposed due south. If I had Corton-Charlemagne vines here I would be tempted to let the world know by labelling the wine as Corton-Charlemagne, Le Charlemagne.
Two producers to my knowledge also have some Pinot Noir planted here – Follin-Arbelet and Bonneau du Martray. Both make attractive wines but neither, to my mind, justifies Grand Cru status for red wine, lacking the extra dimensions of flavour one hopes for at the highest level. This is not the producers’ fault, but a reflection of the terroir.
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.