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Domaine de la Vougeraie Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru 2015

Domaine de la Vougeraie Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru 2015

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"The 2015 Charmes-Chambertin Les Mazoyeres Grand Cru comes from vines planted way back in 1902. It has a very succinct bouquet, almost understated at first (atypically for this grand Cru) then builds with vivacious Morello cherry, redcurrant and wild strawberry scents struck through with fine mineralité and tension. The palate is medium-bodied with a slightly candied opening, a little more savory than I was expecting, hints of cooked meat percolating through the red and black fruit with veins of marmalade and Satsuma pith towards the finish. It felt quite mercurial, constantly changing in my glass, fortunately gaining more and more cohesion. Intriguing! Drink: 2020-2040. 93-95 points

Pierre Vincent has been at the helm of Domaine de la Vougeraie for nigh 10 years now. During that time, in my opinion he has taken them to ever-higher levels, a mixture of a quite startling and seemingly ever-expanding treasure trove of bling bling vineyard holdings and a very talented winemaker (not so bling). "The 2015 growing season was a perfect year,” he explained. “There was a lot of sunshine, no rain. Perhaps the only problem was the dryness in July when there was some grillure. We were lucky because the rain arrived in August and this was beneficial for the maturity that was becoming blocked. Maybe there was not enough for Côte de Nuits, which affected the yields, around 25hl/ha for all the reds. In Côte de Beaune it was better, especially for Chardonnay, which was around 45hl/ha. I started picking on the last day of August for the whites and finished 4 September. We commenced the red on 5 September, finishing on 12 September. We were lucky because it was just before the rain. You had to be careful on the picking date, so as not to have too much maturity. That was important. The phenolic maturity was very good, the pips very ripe. It is the first vintage whereby I have used 100% whole cluster with the exception of the generic entry wines. The alcoholic degree was not so high, between 12° to 12.5°, and so I just chaptalized a maximum of 0.3°. For Pinot Noir, the balance between the analytical and phenolic maturity was perfect. We had a 3-week cuvaison there was a little less pigeage for the reds and a longer cuvaison for the whites, since it was difficult for the yeasts during conversion. It is also the first vintage where I have used a low level of new oak, which is a new approach, for all wines. I used one-third each of new, one-year-old and two-year-old barrels. It used to be 80% when I first joined the domaine. We have just started bottling the reds, including premier and grand crus with the remaining grands crus next March. The whites will be bottled in April 2017 including a minimum of 4 months in stainless steel tank."

This was an exemplary set of wines from Pierre, although mirroring many other estates, quality resides with the reds over the whites that lacked the mineralité and tension of the 2014s. "I think it was a very good vineyard between Clos Vougeot and Morey-Saint-Denis,” he remarked, although I am not sure I agree, since there are excellent offerings from Corton and Nuits Saint-Georges this year. Perhaps my pick would be the Clos de Vougeot, one of a number of superlative wines from the grand cru this year, although the Bonnes-Mares may well surprise some of the more renowned growers’ counterparts in years to come, almost challenging Vougeraie’s own Musigny for supremacy. As usual, I chewed the fat with Pierre afterwards, discussing the use of DIAM closures – I am surprised that they are not used at least for the entry-level labels, after all, it seems odd that someone like Domaine Leflaive would adopt them for their grand crus, but not the generic white at Vougeraie. That aside, the 2015 offers some predictably very well-crafted wines from Domaine de la Vougeraie.

Neal Martin, Wine Advocate (228)

Purchasing in bond is possible.