Guillaume d'Angerville treated us to a rare visit to London last week to share the wines of his family's historic domaine with both customers and journalists, over dinner and lunch the following day. The two mouth-watering events, which covered five vintages and eight premiers crus, reinforced our belief that this is one of the great Domaines of Burgundy.
Sem, Marquis d'Angerville, and Henri Gouges, sparked the move towards domaine bottling in the early 20th century and were also central to the development of the Premier and Grand Cru system. Many say that they did not put forward any Grands Crus from their own villages, Volnay and Nuits st Georges, to ensure the process was seen to be completely impartial. A shame, perhaps, for the village of Volnay but a delicious anomaly for today's savvy wine drinker. The fine quality coming out of this domaine, and the village in general, is simply not reflected in the gap in prices to its Côte de Nuits neighbours.
The week started with dinner at St James's street. The 2014 Meursault 1er Cru Santenots showed just how far this cuvee has come under Guillaume's watchful eye: Bright, vivacious fruit with a crisp and clear definition, unashamedly not your average Meursault.
Cannon of lamb provided a tasty backdrop to a succulent pair of 2011s, Taillepieds and Champans. The former deliciously stony and crisp, living up to its name "cut feet," referring to the vineyard's sharp, rocky character that always used to lacerate the shoes of the vineyard workers. The latter a textbook Volnay of charm and style, the vineyard's balanced mix of red clay and stones resulting in a wine of roundness and harmony.
The evening culminated with a pair of Clos des Ducs, 2010 and 2005. No matter how good the rest of the Domaine's wines are this great Monopole always takes you to another level. Guillaume's brief history of this Monopole, "my back yard," as he likes to call it, was fascinating. The first written mention of the vineyard was in 1507, recorded as 52 ouvrees (the exact equivalent of the 2.15 ha that adjoin the Domaine's cellars today.) Its mix of Marne clay and limestone, steep and tilted south-east facing slope make for some handsome, statuesque wines. The 2010 powerful and complex yet so stylish and appealing from the outset; the 2005 more brooding and taciturn, but after three hours of aeration starting to show its class. If ever there was to be a Grand Cru south of Beaune this would surely be one of the strongest candidates.
Hew Blair, Guillaume d'Angerville and Giles Burke-Gaffney at the Lanesborough hotel.
A press tasting and lunch followed the morning after, in the beautiful surrounds of the newly-refurbished Lanesborough hotel. The focus was the recently-released 2015s, a vintage notable for consistency across the range as much as the brilliance of the individual wines. The season was dry but certainly conducive to making great wine, if you add in nine years of biodynamic viticulture and the culmination of every small improvement Guillaume has been making since he took charge in 2003, then you have what must go down as one of the Domaines's great vintages.
The meal that followed was exquisite: stylishly executed and flavourful without overbearing the wines. Another brace of 2011s, this time it was the turn of Fremiets, impressively broad-shouldered and voluptuous, to partner the more mineral Taillepieds. The grand finale arrived with the Comte - the muscular Clos des Ducs 2005 once again, this time partnered by its sensual and ethereal 2011 counterpart.
The sumptuous surrounds of the Lanesborough hotel made the perfect setting for the evening.
There was nothing to prove over the two days, both events were all about the wines - sharing the pure joy and interest that drinking them offered. But two things were apparent throughout: 2011 is an underrated vintage, delicious to drink now as they start breaking out of their initially rather firm shells, like 2007s but with more freshness and interest. Secondly that Guillaume d'Angerville, through great attention to detail and a series of tiny adjustments rather than wholesale changes, has elevated this already well-reputed Burgundy domaine to greatness. For not only are the wines downright delicious, but each are resolutely faithful to their own varying terroirs. At the estate you are never more than fifteen minutes walk away from any of the crus, yet each has its own distinct character and this translates into the wines. This makes Domaine Marquis d'Angerville an emblem of Burgundy's magic.