Domaine de la Vougeraie

Jasper Morris and BBR were in town this week to kick off the 2011 en primeur campaign. While most of the wines showed soft fruit and amazing approachability, the wines of Domaine de la Vougeraie stole the show, recalling memories of how similarly a simple premier cru Clos Blanc de Clos de Vougeot stole the show  against some grander Grand Crus on my first ever tasting of their wines.

Domaine de la Vougeraie is a relatively new domaine in the timeline of burgundian winemaking. It was started in 1999 using holdings purchased by the Boisset family over the years. With the last purchase in 1996 of different plots of land in the Clos Vougeot appellation, Jean-Charles Boisset and Nathalie Boisset quickly invited Pascal Marchand to help with the vinification of their grapes. However, since 2006, Pascal Marchand handed over the reins to Pierre Vincent who continued to grow the reputation of the domaine. As of 2011, the domaine owns a combined 34 hectares, to which they recently added 0.2 hectares of Batard Montrachet. Two thirds of their plots lie in the Cote De Nuits and the other one third in Cote de Beaune.

While I have not tasted Pascal Marchand’s version of this domaine, the word is that his wines take some time to come around (similar to his Comte Armand Clos de Epeneaux). Since Pierre Vincent took over, the wines seem have gained another layer of softness. As one of my friend recently commented: “it is like fog, very elusive”. Whether it is this new style or other reasons, the reputation of Domaine de la Vougeraie have been steadily gaining after Pierre Vincent took over. In the vineyard, farming is biodynamique, horse-ploughing is encouraged, and vines are trained the Guyot method. While vinification differs vintage to vintage, generally, the Domaine 100% destemms, pratices cold soak for 4 to 5 days, before 6 to days of fermentation, and ending with 8 to 14 days of maceration in wooden vats. The wines are racked in typically 30% new oak and bottled by gravity without fining or filtration.

There is clearly a house style (soft, friendly, pretty, “elusive”) and the reds are definitely of red end of the fruit spectrum. On the other hand, the terroir of the land equally stands out under the tutelage of Monsieur Vincent, though most of the time I feel it is an interesting and different take of the same terroir. It is perhaps a testament to Monsieur Vincent’s skill, that while Domaine de la Vougeraie has more than 20 different appellation, yet each individual terroir stands out. The jewels of their lineups must be the Clos Blanc de Clos de Vougeot monopole and the Musigny (which they destemm grape by grape by hand). However, with the recent addition of Batard-Montrachet, which Jasper dubbed as the best Batard Montrachet in BBR’s portfolio, it will be interesting to taste this in couple years time. Certainly I believe the domaine’s soft round style should lend itself nicely to the terroir of Batard-Montrachet.

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