Burgundy is complicated, but not as complicated as one perhaps thinks. In contrast to Bordeaux, where the chateau is the 'unit of interest', in Burgundy it is the vineyard, or the plot. The classification is quite simple: there is grand cru (35 vineyards), then premier cru and village. In the case of grand cru, the vineyard is the big print on the label, in other cases, it is the village. Producers often share a vineyard, and their name shows up at the bottom of the label. At the same time, many producers have small plots in a number of villages.
My main interest here is Pinot Noir, so I head to the Cote de Nuits, where the best Pinot Noirs are made. I am touring with Authentica, a leading operator in Burgundy. In line with the Burgundy philosophy, my first stop is not at a winery, but at a vineyard. It is of course the famous Romanée-Conti vineyard, owned by Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. The vineyard is kept in immaculate condition, but what surprised me was the relatively young age of many vines in this vineyard. An active vine replacement program is going on. The vineyard is not large, and it is easy to walk to La Tache, Richebourg and St. Vivant. This is of course all I get to experience from these famous vineyards in the village of Vosne-Romanee.
The famous Romanée-Conti vineyard
The best vineyards are ploughed by horse.
Then it is over to Clos de Vougeot, a large chateau and grand cru vineyard, shared by about 50 different owners. Here I taste a number of different wines.
- 2009 Nuits-Saint-Georges by Richard Manière: black cherry fruit, firm tannins, quite a tight wine and a bit tart (92 points)
-2012 Vosne-Romanée, Les Beaux-Monts by Desauney-Bissey: this is a premier cru wine from a popular producer. similar fruit flavours to the last wine, but smoother with silky tannins (94 points)
-2012 Echezeaux by Richard Manière: this is an affordable wine from this famous grand cru site. The wine has a lighter colour. It tastes of red and black cherry. The oak is well integrated, and the wine is quite long with an expanding finish. I really enjoyed this wine (96 points)
-2012 Clos de Vougeot by Domaine Odoul-Coquard: this wine is darker again. It is a bigger wine with more extraction than the previous wines. It is quite complex, with smoky notes on the palate. On the other hand, the wine is not so elegant, finishing with firm tannins (94 points)
-2009 Charmes-Chambertin by Camus: from a great vintage and grand cru (more about this in the next post) the final wine in this tasting. Deep purple colour with dark cherry flavours and a very satisfying mouthfeel. The tannins are softening, and it is drinking ver well now (95 points)