Tasted in Beaune with Frédèric Weber, 09 June 2016.
One of Bouchard Père et Fils’s signature wines has, for generations been the Volnay 1er Caillerets, Ancienne Cuvée Carnot – but they actually have another domaine wine that celebrates that name – one that is largely unknown.
First, let’s take a step back: The early Bouchard’s grew their company with each generation; from the founder Michel Bouchard, onto Joseph Bouchard and then onto Antoine-Philibert Bouchard. Whilst they really increased their domaine holdings in the 1790s when the ‘Biens Nationaux’ sales of vineyards began – sales of vines that had belonged to the aristocracy or the church – certain vines in Volnay Caillerets and Pommard Rugiens, for instance, were purchased in 1775.
Antoine-Philibert had a large family and his estate shared Bouchard’s vines between his children and grandchildren in 1854. It was his granddaughter Sidonie who inherited vineyards including the Volnay Caillerets. Sidonie married Jean François Carnot, a notary from Nolay – more specifically from the Château of Le Rochepot, so the Volnay Caillerets was lost to the Carnot family in 1854.
In 1885, the granddaughter of Sidonie, Marthe Carnot, married (another) Joseph Bouchard which resulted in the return of Carnot’s Volnay vineyards back to today’s Bouchard Père et Fils. It is since that time that the Caillerets label has kept the reference to the ‘Ancienne Cuvée Carnot.’
Less well-known, is that in 1889 other vines came to Bouchard from the Carnot family, who had vines in Bouzeron. The produce of these vines also still reference the family Carnot on their labels.
If yu are in town, it’s possible to buy this wine at the ‘factory shop’ of Bouchard in Beaune – the 2012 is currently available for €9.90 – they are changing to the 2013 about now. For comparison their Bourgogne Chardonnay is selling for €9.10.
These holdings in Bouzeron amount to 7.60 hectares, about 6 hectares of-which are currently in production. Of-course this is 100% aligoté, the vast majority of which goes into the ‘Carnot Bouzeron’, though some is ‘declassified’ into Bouchard’s ‘generic’ Bourgogne Aligoté. The vines sit in 2 important areas in Bouzeron; Les Bouchines (north-west) and Fias (next to the village).
Aligoté needs good maturity so this is one of the latest areas to be harvested at the Bouchard domaine. “Aligoté is very susceptible to rot – so we’re always happy to get the grapes into the cuverie!” says Fred Weber. About 22-25,000 bottles are produced each year from yields of about 48-52 hl/ha (55 is allowed) – “Aligoté provides a lot of juice as the grapes are quite big.” Bouchard’s vinification follows with pressing the grapes, “We really we need the first press” explains Fred, “as there is always a lot of ‘bourbe’ from aligoté. Then the vinification is in stainless-steel tanks – the wine left on its fine lees for the whole of the elevage in these tanks. Bottling follows in March/April to conserve the freshness.”
This wine is mainly sold in France, maybe just a little in the UK too. “It’s really not much exported because it’s so little known…”
All these wines start with a faint reductive note, but time in the glass converts that to a more classical reflection of agrumes. Really it shows that there is value in waiting 2-3 years to drink a good aligoté, the 2013 and 2012 being lovely today – I had a very slight preference for the 13 today – but both work…!
14 is current vintage for sale, but this has already been bottled.
A bright and openly floral and citrus nose. Some fat, round, a certain weight of concentration. There’s a pretty and mouth-watering finish with a tiny point of salt – sweetly citrus finishing. Tasty but I’d look for more freshness.
Deeper yet also with a suggestion of more focus to the aromas. Certainly fresher, a saline quality and good line of flavour. There is some more concentrated fruit in the mid-palate and a nice silky texture. Good finish – this is very tasty – it’s quite long finishing too – delicious wine!
A more direct freshness of aroma – almost a note of reduction too that turns quickly to agrumes – nice. More obvious concentration here – almost an added texture of tannin – this complex and lovely – I expected that I would prefer the 14 – but no, this is really super – bravo!
Just a few bottle remain in the cellar. One of the very smallest yields – frost and coulure to blame.
A complex nose – lots of points of interest – again starting with a faintly reductive element. More lithe, fresh, active on the palate – silkier than the 2013 too. Excellent finish – this I love – now if I could blend the palate of the 13 with the finish of the 12…