A typical Clos de Vougeot structure and density, large-framed but velvety and suave, loads of fruit to counteract the solid core, baskets of floral ripe brambles, plums and forest berries that burst out of the glass. Impressive.
In 1996 Alberic Bichot became the 6th generation to take over the management of this historic Burgundian house. Bichot have always had impressive vineyard holdings and been one of the most important negociants in the region but the wines were all too often disappointing. Alberic’s mission was to transform the estate’s quality and reputation. One of his first moves was to bring in Alain Serveau as chief winemaker. Vitally both of Bichot’s Cote d’Or domaines, Clos Frantin in the Cotes de Nuits and Domaine du Pavillon in the Cote de Beaune, have their own vineyard and winemaking teams as well as their own wineries and cellars with Alain overseeing the whole production. When asked at a tasting of the fine 2014s what the most essential changes have been during his near twenty year reign, Alain pinpointed a lowering of yields and increased flexibility, ie adapting to each plot and vintage rather a systematic approach. Well the wines have improved immeasurably, the last three vintages in particular have been excellent for the Domaine wines, to the point that we could finally not resist the beautiful 2014s. By and large the grapes are de-stalked, undergo a long slow and gentle cuvaison of up to thirty days and then age in barriques for between 14-18 months depending on the wine and vintage. New oak is far from excessive, going up to a mximum of 60-70% for the top Grand Crus.
One of the most famous and largest Grands Crus in burgundy the walled Clos de Vougeot was created by Cistercian monks between the 12th and early 14th centuries. The monks cleared, planted and amalgamated vineyard plots as and when they acquired them, eventually completing the final 50 ha walled vineyard by 1336. The Cistercians maintained ownership until the French Revolution, when all clerical estates were dispossessed. Clos de Vougeot was sold on to Julien-Jules Ouvrard in 1818, the year before he bought Romanée-Conti, and remained in single ownership until 1889. Since then ownership has fragmented so that today there are over 80 proprietors. The sheer size of the vineyard area means quality can be variable, particularly considering the bottom part of the vineyard reaches right down to the low-lying route national. However at its best Clos de Vougeot fully deserves its Grand Cru status, a wine different to any of the other Grands Crus, a broad, mouthfilling dense example of red burgundy that almost verges on the heavy but the greatest examples have a defintion,balance and finesse to add to this overwhelming power.