Domaine Gros Frère et Soeur – Vosne-Romanée


DSC06733Tasted in Vosne with Bernard Gros, 03 June 2015.

Domaine Gros Frère et Soeur
6, rue des Grands Crus
21700 Vosne-Romanée
Tel: +33 3 80 61 12 43

There are many facets of wine and the presentation of wine in Vosne-Romanée – some domaines seem almost ‘faux discrete’ – at this domaine, that’s not the case.

The wine of Vosne, in-particular the grand crus of Vosne, given their current pricing can hardly be considered other than luxury items, and a visit to Gros Frère et Soeurs, is every bit a luxury item too. This is clearly the most impressive ‘maison’ in the village – it scores highly on ostentation too, but it avoids being garish. The caves have been updated and have polished concrete floors that would put most up-market kitchens to shame. They are brightly lit, but with new LED lighting. The piece de resistance is the tasting room – original rock walls (à Château Ponsot), a polished and lit floor, and a your tasting ‘table’ is the top of a Steinway grand piano – depending on your personal taste, this could indeed be considered garish – Bernard Gros chooses to finish our tasting with an impression of Jools Holland!

There has been lots of cellar renovation in the last year, but a small library cellar remains as blackened and covered with fur as ever. There’s also a separate white-wine cellar, but all have rows of seemingly anonymous but scrupulously clean barrels – Bernard Gros says that they are mainly from Cavin, and are kept for a maximum of two vintages.

Bernard arrived here in 1980 – his uncle Gustav was ill and already needing multiple weekly trips to the hospital for dialysis. Gustav died not too long later.

Bernard set about replanting the domaine over the next 10-15 years, he says that much of the domaine had been planted with poor vine-stock, a lot of it was pinot droit, and he decided that it was better to grasp the nettle and replant with something better. After about 35 years running the show, Bernard says his son, “Vincent, is now making all the ‘important decisions’ – I think a generation should be about 27 years so I’ve done enough now! Vincent is 28 and knows what he wants to do.”

Everything here is destemmed and then sees a cool pre-fermentation maceration. Amongst some commentators GF&S is problematic because of their long-time use of reverse osmosis to increase concentration at the expense of water, so I asked the question: “Unlike Vincent who has studied as a winemaker, my metier was electrical engineering” says Bernard, “we are always learning a little more as to how such machines work, but it was clear from the start that they amplify the best characteristics, but also the worst – so much care is needed. But, I remain convinced that it is much better to remove some water from a small quantity of a particular cuvée and use that to prolong a fermentation, than to chaptalise with non-grape derived sugar. From this perspective, all of the domaine’s Richebourg comes from Richebourg, not a part from the supermarket!”

The wines…

The domaine has 21 hectares of today, with a significant contribution coming from the Hautes Côtes – 9 hectares of red and 3 of white in the Hautes Côtes – despite a generally hit and miss experience with this domaine’s wines, I choose to look at the wines as they were presented, rather than as a ‘construct’ of technical winemaking.

Bernard is short and to the point about the 2013 vintage: “Late harvesting like 2008. 2013 has nicely ripe tannins though was a catastrophe for yields – the same as 2003 – but I’m happy with the quality.”

I’ve always liked this domaine’s Clos de Vougeot ‘Musigni’ and indeed that wine and all those that preceded it showed very well. The last two reds – Grands-Echézeaux and Richebourg – left me a little puzzled, but may be a question of timing…(?)

When we’d finished, I asked Bernard if he had a little time to walk with me in the vines – his response was “By foot or from the air” – which left me confused, so I said “by foot of-course.” He looked at his watch and said “The weather is nice and it will only take 5 minutes to get there.” The next thing I knew, we were at the Aerodrome de Nuits and he was warming up his helicopter. A rare treat, obviously!

2013 Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits
High tones, fine sucrosity and bright acidity – it’s a nice combination and faintly floral too. The structure slowly rises. But this is tasty wine – quite a bit of extraction at the end too.

2013 Vosne-Romanée
Many parcels that represent a total of 1.5 hectares.
Beautiful cliché Vosne aromas – faintly spicy fruit. More intensity, more direct fruit, a bigger lift of acidity in the mid-palate. A nice leading edge of acidity into the finish. Refreshing and highly drinkable…

2013 Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru
Declassified Echézeaux.
Bright and focused, less forward than the villages. A little more silk and weight, a little less direct. A bigger burst of perfumed fruit in the mid-palate. There’s almost a dried fruit in the finish, a finish that lasts very well. I like this.

2013 Vosne-Romanée 1er les Chaumes
A small cuvée – almost 2 barrels.
A fine core of faintly spiced fruit, of lovely clarity. Extra sucrosity and roundness – mouth-watering flavour. I find this excellent.
2013 Echézeaux
From Les Loachausses; Bernard planted also the parcel of Anne Gros in 1989, and his parcel in 1995.
Perfumed, big in the mouth, but flexes its muscles – I like the shape of this very much – a big burst of flavour in the mid-palate towards the finish. A modest holding note but it lasts well, really super.
2013 Clos de Vougeot, Musigni
This was replanted in 1989.
This smells really super, with faint tobacco, weight and spice too – it is indeed reminiscent of Musigny. Silky, with a fine energy over the tongue. Lovely intensity, part mineral and very long. Musigny is usually a bigger wine, but this has the smell.

2013 Grands-Echézeaux
A small parcel, Just behind the wall of Clos de Vougeot, next to the vines of DRC.
High-toned aromas, lots of flowers, almost trying too hard. A modest entry, growing wider and wider in the mouth. Versus the Clos de Vougeot it seems a much more mineral wine, growing wider and wider, with much more finishing material. Less appealing than the super-attractive Clos de Vougeot, today, I reserve judgement.

2013 Richebourg
The aromatic here is much more like the GE – muddled a little, quite high-toned, approaching a floral volatility – it needs time to open out. Mouth-filling, growing width, fully controlled tannin, a wine of depth but discretion. It holds a strong note into finish, but remains a very discreet wine – it’s very much more interesting to taste/drink everything up to and including the Clos de Vougeot today…

2013 Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits Blanc
Faintly sweet, also high-toned and a little mineral. Nice and tasty – it’s not big, but shows a nice acidity, actually a lovely tasty wine – the finish doesn’t hold long. A tasty, unpretentious wine that already drinks well.

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