Domaine de la Vougeraie is a creation of the wealthiest wine related company in all of Burgundy, i.e. Jean-Claude Boisset SA. Though you might not be completely familiar with the name, Boisset are the largest négociant in Burgundy and in addition to the domaines amalgamated to form La Vougeraie, Boisset are the ultimate holding company of, possibly more familiar names, such as; Bouchard Aîne, Jaffelin, Ropiteau and Mommesin. With respect to La Vougeraie, the Boisset strategy was to create a domaine to compete at the highest level with the ‘stars’ of Burgundy: To acheive this, they combined the former domaines of Claudine Deschamps, Pierre Ponnelle, Louis Voilland and L’Héritier-Guyot, each with excellent parcels of vineyards so that this ‘super-domaine’ could be born. The Domaine de la Vougeraie now boasts 37 hectares in 29 different appellations, including five red and one white grand cru. There are also two monopole vineyards in Vougeot, the Clos Blanc de Vougeot for white wine and Le Prieuré for both red & white wines. La Vougeraie is based in Premeaux-Prissey – a small village on the Route Nationale 74 at the southern end of the Côte de Nuits. From here you can look up the hill at the Nuit St.Georges vineyards of Argillières and the Clos de Marechale.
Once the vineyard holdings were in place, someone to make the wine had to be found. It followed that Pascal Marchand the well thought-of wine-maker from Comte Armand in Pommard (Clos des Epeneaux), became régisseur. Whilst 1998 was the first vintage that Domaine de la Vougeraie started to work as one ‘entity’, Pascal joined only in time for the harvest and it was felt that the 1998’s did not reach the standards they had set for themselves. So the first release for the new domaine was the 1999 vintage where Pascal and his team had control over the full growing season. Pascal is incredibly knowledgeable about all details of the parcels, when grapes were picked, the declared yields (which happen to be some of the lowest on the Côte de Nuits) and just about every facet of the business. Once you start discussing and tasting the wines he really opens up and the enthusiasm shines through.
It’s very obvious that the creation of this domaine was a very well thought out excercise; from the vineyard holdings and facilities to the personel and the marketing ‘machine’. Given that the domaine has the backing of the company Boisset, it should be no surprise to see the quality of their promotional material, from very smart newsletters to one of the best websites from the region. During the 2002 harvest, the website had a daily update of their progress. Also a very nice story is the fact that they use a horse-drawn plough for (currently) 15 of the domaines hectares. The aim is to combat the soil compaction caused by years of tractor use.
So much for the operation of the domaine, but what about their products? The wine-making uses 100% destemmed fruit, 4 to 5 days of cold maceration, followed by fermentation and some post-fermentation maceration in traditional wooden vats. The ability to work in this way was one of the keys to Pascal’s move to the domaine. The wines are racked into wooden barrels in the range 30 to 100% new wood – depending on the appellation and vintage characteristics. Pascal was so confident of the quality of the 2002’s, that he chose to utilise 100% new barrels for many of the cuvées. I guess it’s now time to taste some wine . . . .
A truely impressive range of 2001’s; I personally will be looking to buy 4 or 5 of these. Solid progress from 1999-2001 and with 2002 taking, perhaps, another step forward this is definitely a domaine worthy of your attention. Given the very low yields, the attention to detail and the use of four-legged farm equipment, I’d say that now is probably a very good time to introduce yourself to some of these wines – I feel the prices will doubtless increase as the domaine becomes better known.
2001 Vougeot, Clos Prieur
Dark colour. Very redcurrant and raspberry nose. Elegant tannins coupled with persistent fruit and acidity. Lovely wine
2001 Pommard, Petits Noizons
Quite deeply coloured. Some oak on the nose with darker, sweeter fruits than the ‘Clos Prieur’. Good strong tannins with the acidity pushing the fruit longer on the finish. Also good wine.
2001 Gevrey-Chambertin, La Justice
All the vines here on gravelly soil. Medium-plus colour. Lovely nose of soil together with red and black fruits. Soft entry with slightly drying tannins. Super fruit here and the finish comes with a bit of a bang. Very pure expression of fruit here.
2001 Gevry-Chambertin, Evocelles
Yields of only 25hl/ha. Slightly darker colour. Pure red and black cherry nose with a hint of vanilla. Medium tannins and persistent fruit. Again lovely wine.
A blend of four vineyards, including one 1er cru (Baudes). Bright, medium cherry colour. The nose has hints of earth and smooth red fruits. On the palate, gorgeous red fruits, medium soft tannins which coat your teeth. Medium length. Very interesting.
2001 Beaune 1er, Grèves
Medium-plus cherry colour. The nose has high red tones. Furry, medium-plus tannins and long acidity. A nice fruit profile.
2001 Nuits Saint Georges 1er, Corvées Pagets
Medium cherry colour. The nose has sweet red fruit. The tannin is strong, though velvety. Good acidity with a trace of vanilla on the good finish. Very refined.
2001 Nuits Saint Georges 1er, Damodes
The vineyard lies next to Vosne-Romanée, just above ‘Boudot’. Medium-plus cherry colour. Faint spice and cherry pie nose. Also a little spice on the palate. Good acidity and medium-plus velvety tannins. Subtle but persisten finish. Again a very refined style for NSG.
2001 Vougeot 1er, Les Cras
Medium cherry colour. Red fruits on the nose. Good acidity and furry tannins. The red fruits on the palate are very persistent. Lovely finesse.
2001 Pommard 1er, Charmoux
Medium-plus cherry colour. Lots of berry fruit on the nose. Not that you’d know it, but 100% new oak is used here – not surprising really – there’s only one barrel! Deep red and black fruit palate. Good tannins and very long. Very good wine.
2001 Corton Grand Cru, Le Roi
Only 24hl/ha yields. Medium-plus cherry colour. Combination of high and low toned fruits on the nose. Big but velvety tannins. Great concentration of black fruits. Lovely acid and very long. Good style
2001 Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru, Mazoyeres
Medium-plus cherry colour and a beautiful red cherry nose. The 65 year old vines have produced a big, tannic wine with perfect acidity. Superb fruit. I often find ‘Charmes’ less interesting than the other G-C Grand Crus – perhaps because it’s such a large vineyard relative to the others, but this is perhaps the best example I’ve ever tasted. Excellent – and I’m looking for some!
2001 Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru
From 3 separate parcels of vines blended together for the first time this vintage. Medium colour. High toned but very reserved nose; in the cold (11ºC) cellar some spicyness, and eventually some fruit start to come through with swirling. Very concentrated palate with lovely tannins. An excellent example.
2001 Bonnes-Mares Grand Cru
The vines are in Chambolle – just. Medium cherry colour. The lovely nose has traces of vanilla and sweet red fruits. Again a deep core of fruit on the palate. Lovely acidity and lovely length. A very fine example.
2001 Musigny Grand Cru
Believe it or not, the entire harvest from this vineyard was de-stemmed grape by grape, entirely by hand. This process took 10 people 12 hours to complete resulting in 2 and a quarter barrels. Medium-plus cherry in colour. The nose is deep with an aroma that’s quite persistent. Very silky almost soft palate. Very smooth, well covered acidity. The finish is exceptionally long – as you would expect with an exceptional wine!
2001 Bourgogne, Terre de Famille
Below 40hl/ha. Tasted after the Musigny and shows the exceptional density for the appellation. Medium-plus cherry. Nice nose with lovely concentration. Good tannins and acidity coupled with very nice fruit. Only the length of finish gives a hint to the appellation – but look what preceded it! Exceptional Bourgogne.
Should be labelled Bourgogne Grand Ordinaire. These vines were originally planted to produce Passtoutgrains, Pascal and his new team decidied to try and do something a little more original with the vines. Vinified in the ‘normal’ method for the domain’s pinot noirs. Only just racked. Deep colour. Confiture nose. Lovely palate, with concentrated fruit. Pascal is very happy with this – and so he should be.
Lastly two whites, including a rare white from the Côte de Nuits:
2001 Vougeot, Clos Blanc de Vougeot
Pale gold. Lovely melony nose. The fat palate is very concentrated – more so than some grand cru’s in 2001. Good acidity too. Very interesting wine.
2001 Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru
Pale colour. White flowers and melon on the nose. Again a very concentrated palate, with nice acidity pushing the finish long. Very good wine.