In another place, I gave my answer to the differences, or positioning, of these two AOPs. Here are my thoughts – but what do you think?
You can see all of these spellings on labels, the most common is that last one, so that’s what I’ll use: Échezeaux, Échézeaux, Echezeaux or Echézeaux.
Grands? Well, one is indeed bigger than the other – but the reverse of the naming:
- Grands-Echézeaux, 9.14 hectares, on modestly sloping limestone ground – practically flat versus Echézeaux – north of Vosne in Flagey-Echézeaux
- Echézeaux, 36.26 hectares, on a limestone and marl terroir – multiple slopes, dips, altitudes, full-sun and part shaded – also north of Vosne in Flagey-Echézeaux
Grands-Echézeaux does usually seem to be the ‘grander’ wine when you taste after Echézeaux, but older producers suggest that the prefix ‘Grand’ is not used as a form of one-upmanship versus Echézeaux, rather that it describes the much longer rows of vines than seen in the more ‘parcellated’ Echézeaux – so they say…
Of-course the structural character of Grands-Echézeaux is very different to Echézeaux and I see this as probably due to its proximity to the Clos de Vougeot – the wall of the Clos often seeming an arbitrary separation between the two – it’s probably not unreasonable then that DRC hold that their Grands-Echézeaux is perhaps the longest-lived of all their wines. That said, their Echézeaux is not a bad keeper either – I remember Jasper Morris kindly giving me a sip of the DRC ’59 Echézeaux from a bottle that he’d enjoyed at lunch in BB&R that day with Burghound (in roughly 2008) which was robust and young – their BB&R own-bottled ’57 Bonnes-Mares was the more drinkable/open of those two that day(!)
In young Grands-Echézeaux, when not drowned out by oak (a common problem), I very often find an almond aroma that I never find in Echézeaux, and an Echézeaux is, to me, more classically ‘Vosne-like’ than Grands-Echézeaux – again, perhaps, due to Grands-Echézeaux’s proximity to the Clos. It’s easy to consider Echézeaux a second-rank grand cru in the context of Vosne-Romanée (yes, I know, it’s in Flagey…) but a single tour of a dozen or more young Echézeaux often has me in raptures – or, indeed 28 of them! Considering the size of the vineyard, Echézeaux shows much more consistency in quality (if not style) than other large grand crus such as Clos de Vougeot or Corton.
Styles can confound everything – of course! Lots of whole-clusters – or not. Tons of new oak – or not. Elegant or powerful – etcetera… I’ve tasted every year since 2000, and I do think that the DRC Echézeaux has been consistently in the top half-dozen Echézeaux every year since at least 2005 – but that simply means that I like their stylistic choices – though it can be a close-run thing with other domaines…
I’m ashamed to say that I never bought any of his Grands-Echézeaux, so can’t comment on those, but for those lucky enough to still have some, I think Nicky Potel got extra-special juice from ‘somewhere’ in 1997 – his Echézeaux is one of the wines of the vintage – and it’s now starting to blossom fabulously – it’s currently much more interesting than his 1999…