The Wine Lover's Epiphany
part 2 - Côte de Nuits
posted July 2010
view toward the village of Vougeot from Ch. de Clos du
Vougeot in the Côte de Nuits wine region
Burgundy is a region that confounds many and
seduces others. It is a winemaking region that seems to evoke more passion than
most and it is also considered the King of Pinot Noir which seems (arguably) to
have provided that "epiphany" or "aha" wine moment more than any other single
wine or varietal.
Burgundy is a unique region, a historic
winemaking area made up of tiny villages and small appellations that begins a
couple hours south of Paris (just below Auxerre), in Chablis and runs southward
from Dijon to Mâcon, north of Lyon (and the Northern Rhone Valley).
It is a complex puzzle of appellations,
sub-appellations and 1200 climats (a specific delimited plot of vineyard
that has been recognized for centuries) and clos (a small walled
vineyard) - some much more famous than others.
Burgundy is broken into five main wine producing
regions crossing four departments - the Yonne, Nivère, Cote d'Or and Saône et
In the north (separated from the rest of the pack) is Chablis and Grand
Auxerrois. Next just south of Dijon is
de Nuits followed in a southerly direction by
Côte de Beaune, Côte Chalonnaise and Mâconnais.
Part 1- Chablis
Part 3 -
Côte de Beaune
a fantastic lineup of wines from
Domaine Jean Grivot at Clos du Vougeot
- Côte de Nuits
Starting just below Dijon,
Côte de Nuits
runs southward toward
the Côte de
Beaune - together they form the
a "golden" stretch of unique grape growing terroir only about 40 kilometers long
and less than 2 kilometers wide on (mostly) eastern facing slopes.
If you follow the N74 (or better yet veer off onto the Route des Grand Crus to
the west ) you will pass through the villages of Marsannay, Couchey, Fixin,
Gevrey-Chambertin, Morey-St-Denis, Chambolle-Musigny, Vougeot, Flagey-Échézeaux,
Vosne-Romanée and finally Nuits-St-George, the region's namesake. You have most
likely seen many of these village names on bottles of Burgundy wine before, but
you may not have associated them with the actual name of a village.
Côte de Nuits is also home to
the lions share of Burgundy's Grand Cru vineyards
A winemaking history of nearly 2000 years, the
Côte de Nuits is historical
region that continues to produce wines that make wine lovers swoon.
There are 69 winegrowing estates and producers in the
Côte de Nuits and
each area has its own distinct terroir and limitations under the AOC
(Appellation d'Origine Controlee). For instance, Marsannay produces village
whites from Chardonnay, reds and rosés from Pinot Noir. Fixin produces Pinot
Noir and Chardonnay wines under village and Premier (1er Cru) Cru labels and
Gevrey-Chambertin produces communal wines and 1er Cru wines from Pinot Noir plus
the famous Grand Crus of Chambertin.
Some Grand Cru vineyards you may recognize are: Chambertin (15ha)
Mazis~Chambertin (9.27ha), Chambertin~Clos de Bèze (14.4ha),
and Latricières~Chambertin (7.05)...
(right top: Château du Clos de Vouget)
(right: layers of Jurassic limestone in the Grand Cru vineyards of Clos du
bottom right: gate to the monople vineyard of Clos Blanc de Vougeot at the
Château du Clos de Vougeot)
Moving South again is
Morey-St-Denis and neighboring Chambolle-Musigny, who together run the gamut of
Regional and Village wines to 44 Premier Cru and 6 Grand Cru vineyards. Together
they stand stronger than apart. Morey-St-Denis, a primarily Pinot producing
area, is the bridge between
Gevrey-Chambertin and Chambolle-Musigny and
is home to the Crand Cru vineyards of Clos de Tart,
Bonne~Mares, Clos de la Roche, Clos Saint~Denis
Clos des Lambrays. In Chambolle the Grand
Crus of Musigny and Les Bonne~Mares (linked to the Morey-St-Denis
GC Bonne~Mares vineyard) produce feminine styles of Pinot and bookend a
significant number of 1er Cru vineyards.
The commune of Vougeot is next, home to the Grand Cru Pinot Noirs of Clos
de Vougeot and the Château du Clos de Vougeot where I visited on two occasions.
Once to taste 21 back vintages of Clos du Vougeot from 21 different producers
ranging from 1990 thru 2001 and again for a formidable blind tasting of 22 white
and 18 red Grand Crus from Chablis, Côte de Nuits and Côte de Beaune followed by
dinner (more on that farther along).
The iconic Château du Clos de Vougeot is a symbol of the regions
rich winemaking history. You can still see the ancient presses (which predate
the Château itself) in its attached winery and cellars. It is also one of
Burgundies most famous landmarks, the heart of the Côte de Nuits.
Clos de Vougeot neighbors the commune of
Flagey-Échézeaux which in turn
neighbors the commune Vosne-Romanée. Flagey-Échézeaux is home to the
Pinot Noir producing vineyards of the Grands~Échézeaux
(36.04ha) and Échézeaux (8.04 ha), which make some of my favourite Pinot Noirs.
The village/commune of Vosne-Romanée is located just north of the town of
Nuits-St-Georges and sits at the base of the more westerly slopes of Hautes
Nuits which fall under the AOC regional appellation. The
Nuits encompass more than 20 villages behind the Côtes de Nuits.
But perhaps more importantly,
Vosne-Romanée is home to
(unarguably) the worlds most revered and iconic Pinot Noirs. It is home to 15
Premier Cru Climats (a specific delimited plot of vineyard that has been
recognized for centuries)
Les Beaux Monts, Les Suchots, Les Chaumes and Aux Malconsorts among others. But
its most famous
names include the Grand Cru vineyards
La Romanée, Romanée Saint Vivant, La Tâche, La Grande Rue and Richebourg.
plaque on the stone wall around the Romanée-Conti vineyard)
remains in the vineyard of Romanée-Conti
Vougeot Grand Crus
Château du Clos de Vougeot
March 23, 2010
1. Clos de Vougeot 2001 Domaine Daniel Rion et Fils á Premeaux Prissey -
a very bright wine with earthy/herbal notes and a long sweet finish.
2. Clos de Vougeot 1999 Domaine François Gerbert á
Vosne-Romanée - a more
herbaceous wine - dried and fresh herbs, beetroot and cherry. The palate was
fine, bright and silky.
3. Clos de Vougeot 1999 Maison Alex Gambal á Beaune - mineral,
leather and herbs with fruit hinting toward dried. The palate was fresh however,
with still powerful, dry tannins.
4. Clos de Vougeot 1999 Domaine Mongeard-Mugneret á
standout of the tasting with cedar and cherry, red berry. Velvety texture, long
finish and fine but chewy tannins.
Clos de Vougeot 1999 Domaine du Clos Frantin - Maison Albert Bichot á
- obvious barnyard, saddle leather, char and sweet red berry fruit aromas.
Powerful on the palate, long, smoked and minerally finish.
6. Clos de Vougeot 1999 Maison Joseph Drouhin á Beaune - Muscular ,saddle
leather, yeast and red cherry/berry aromas hinting at some age. Very herbal on
the palate with a silky texture.
7. Clos de Vougeot 1999 Domaine Gros Frère et Soeur á
- Some sauvage and
farmyard with very bright berry aromas. Bold structure and sweet tannins with a
long, firm finish.
de Vougeot 1999 Domaine Michel Gros á
Vosne-Romanée - a
gorgeous standout of the 1999s at this tasting. The wine offered aromas of sweet
spice (notably cloves), ripe sunwarmed berries, vanilla and cedarbox. A very
complete wine; silky, layered with fruit and spicebox, lovely weight and a long
9. Clos de Vougeot 1999 Domaine François Lamarche á
Vosne-Romanée - appealing
earthy, farmyard and wild aromas.
The palate is less voluptuous but silky.
10. Clos de Vougeot 1999 Domaine Arnoux-Lachaux á
Vosne-Romanée - A firm,
masculine Pinot with a supple texture and
noticeable power. Cherries, leather and earth.
Clos de Vougeot 1998 Domaine R. Dubois et Fils á Premeaux Prissy -
charming and delicate smelling wine with floral, cedar chips and sweet red fruit
aromas. The palate though is disarming, it is sweet but very youthful tasting
with a fight finish. Going through an awkward teenage stage.
12. Clos de Vougeot 1998 Domaine Faively á Nuits Saint Georges -
confiture of sweet berries on the nose and palate but in the mouth it changes
from fruit to roasted coffee, spice and cigarbox. The tannins are dry and firm.
13. Clos de Vougeot 1997 Maison Louis Jadot á Beaune Fresh spiced berry
aromas with a creamy but firm and powerful palate and powdery texture. Like the
Dubois and the Faively it seems to be in an awkward stage.
14. Clos de Vougeot 1997 Domaine Jean Grivot á
appealing aromas of violets, sweet spice, herbs and confiture of red fruit. A
pretty wine with quite a firm, tannic and hot palate with an aggressive finish.
15. Clos de Vougeot 1996 Domaine Jaques Prieur á Meursault
a beautiful wine - one of my favourites of the 21 tasted. Sunwarmed berries and
sweet spice, with violets and a hint of fresh pine.
The palate was fresh and feminine, silky and sweet.
16. Clos de Vougeot 1996 Château de la Tour á Vougeot - cherry
confiture, beetroot, leather and dried violets. A fantastic velvety texture,
supple and masculine with earthy, savoury flavours and a peppery finish.
Clos de Vougeot 1996 Domaine Tortochot á Gevrey-Chambertin - Not much
bright fruit remains but cedar, saddle leather and wid herbal tones. Less
obvious fruit on the palate than previous wines tasted too and a warm, spiced
18. Clos de Vougeot 1995 Domaine Georges Mugneret-Gibourg á
interesting amalgamation of sweet spice and farmyard aromas. Still a hint of
lively red fruit on the palate with roasted coffee and dark earthy flavours.
19. Clos de Vougeot 1993 Domaine Méo-Camuzet á
Vosne-Romanée - quite
aggressive herbal and green aromas, red cherry and earth. The palate is sweet
and supple with flavours of tea leaves and spice - lively finish.
20. Clos de Vougeot 1992 Domaine Armelle et Bernard Rion á
- a solid wine with fresh red berry and
cherry aromas still present, some minerality and spice reappears on the palate.
Youthful and fresh.
21.Clos de Vougeot 1990 Domaine Alain Hudelot-Noellat á Vougeot
leaves and wild sweet herbs on the nose. The palate is supple and silky, fresh
and spicy with a firm texture and wonderful complexity. One of the standouts of
this tasting, I think it benefited from being in a magnum format to retard the
aging process somewhat.
Blind Tasting 40 Grand Crus at the
Château du Clos de Vougeot
On March 25th I participated in a blind tasting of 22 white and 18 red Grand
Crus from Chablis, Côte de Nuits and Côte de Beaune.
The standouts were:
Maison Seguin Manuel Clos de Vougeot 2008
- nice power, youthful and very flavourful with ripe berry and blueberry hints.
Maison Louis Max Clos de Vougeot, 2008
fresh, delicate and floral this is a very pretty, feminine Pinot Noir with a
firm, youthful finish
Maison Henri de Villamont Grands~Échézeaux
, 2008 stylish, unbelievably silky with gorgeous ripe and juicy berry
flavours and a firm, youthful finish.
Maison Buree & Fils Charmes-Chambertin, 2002 - very aromatic -
floral and pretty confiture aromas with fresh herbs and berries on the palate
and lovely structure.
blind tasting Grand Cru reds at Ch. de Clos du Vougeot)
(right:bottom blind tasting Grand Cru whites at Ch. de Clos du Vougeot)
Maison Prosper-Maufoux Charmes-Chambertin
2002 feminine and complex, smooth and bright with a lovely weight and smooth
Maison Michel Picard Mazis~Chambertin 2002 - fantastic fruit on
the nose and palate, silky, weighted, complex and bright with a lengthy
Maison Bouchard Père et Fils Chambertin Clos de Bèze, 2002 -
sturdy, leather and juicy red berry aromas, sweet fruit, spice and peppery on
the palate with a silky texture and firm tight tannins.
Maison Jean-Marc Boillot Batard~Montrachet 2002 - Stunning. Ripe
praline and toasted notes - sweet ripe and spicy with a creamy texture, lovely
spice and fresh fruit with hints of marzipan. Fantastic acidity keeps it fresh
and the creamy, supple texture makes it memorable.
Maison Bouchard Père et Fils Chevalier~Montrachet 2008
fragrant wild flowers, mineral and citrus with a very fresh palate and elegant
Maison Laroche Chablis Les Blanchots, 2002 fascinating aromas of
smoke and mineral, wild honey and melon. It walks the fine line of delicate
freshness and creamy, lush texture beautifully.
Maison Partiarche Père et Fils Corton~Charlemagne 2008 lush
honey and melon with jasmine flowers. The palate echoes the aromas - excellent
complexity and a lovely, creamy weight.
Some details you may not know
Burgundy has a 2000 year history of winemaking.
Burgundy produces about 195 million bottles of wine per year.
Burgundy has 3800 wine growers.
61% of the wine made in Burgundy is white! Red accounts for 30%,
Crémant de Bourgogne
for 8% while rose is only 1%.
The main two grape varieties in Burgundy are Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Chardonnay makes up 46% and Pinot Noir is 36% of vines planted while Gamay and
Aligoté and others account for 7.5%, 6% 4.5% respectively.
Read an Intro to Burgundy and part
1- Chablis here
Part 3 - Côte de Beaune