Domaine de la Vougeraie Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru 2016


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“The 2016 Charmes Chambertin les Mazoyeres Grand Cru, which is 100% whole cluster from their single parcel of century old vines, has a tightly wound, quite floral bouquet that gradually opens with aeration but remains a little laconic compared to its peers. The palate is medium-bodied with fleshy ripe red berry fruit, fine mineralité, quite dense (especially toward the second half) with touches of blood orange and spice toward the finish. This gets more interesting as it goes along! Good potential. Drink: 2022-2045. 92-94 points

The big news earlier this year was winemaker Pierre Vincent’s move from Domaine de la Vougeraie to Domaine Leflaive. When key personnel transfer to another company, then it is bound to cause concern about the continued success. Pierre had been instrumental in improving the wines at Vougeraie over his 11-year tenure. Previously, the wines had been rather overextracted and Pierre imbued them with more terroir expression, greater restraint and more class. It was no surprise that Leflaive snapped him up. Winemakers come and go, but the vines stay the same. When I asked about who was taking Pierre’s place, I was informed that rather than highlighting a single person, they would prefer to emphasize that there is a winemaking team, obligatory when you have such a diaspora of vineyards the length and breadth of the region.

“We used more whole bunches to gain more complexity,” François, one of their winemaking team told me and, indeed, examining the list of wines I can see that several cuvées include 100% whole bunch, even the entry-level “Terres de Famille” red includes 30%. “We found this gave more balance in the reds. We had good results [using whole bunch] with the 2015 and so tried to do the same with 2016. The yields were low and the concentration of the grapes was good. We lost 55% of the production because of frost and lost our Beaune Grèves and Beaune Clos du Roi entirely, although Les Damodes, Le Petit Noizon and Les Clos Blanc did not suffer damage. We started the picking on 15 September with the whites with the Les Clos Blanc. We did a small pigéage. I did not want a brutal extraction, so I used lower fermentation temperatures. The wines are all matured using one-third new, one-third one-year and one-third two-year oak, racked from barrel by barrel, from new into used barrels. I found that the malolactic fermentation in 2016 was longer than in 2015. The wines were racked just before harvest, and I will bottle them a little later in April 2018 rather than end February.”

With such a wide array of propitious parcels scattered all across the Côte d’Or there is always bound to be a clutch of great wines from Domaine de la Vougeraie. Add into the mix the frost and mildew and ineluctably you will get a lot of variation in quality, and that is the case here. There are crus that I felt were discombobulated by the growing season and only just managed to stumble across the finish line, others that are quite brilliant, both white and red. I will leave readers to peruse the reviews. Buy carefully, and you might have a great and, dare I say, well-priced wine on your hands.”

Neal Martin, Wine Advocate (234)