Traditions and Burgundy are strongly linked, but as in all other parts of life, change eventually takes the stage.
At Domaine Comte Georges Vogüé, winemaker François Millet retired this past spring after more than three decades making the wines there. His first full vintage was 1986, but he also did the elevage of the 1985s. His last vinification was of the 2020s, and they are now in the glass for this tasting.
His was a very long career, starting back when global warming was not yet “invented” as a defined concept. This is almost a lifetime.
With Millet retiring, de Vogüé had to search for a new man to lead the domaine towards new endeavours.
New winemaker = new ideas and views
Jean Lupatelli comes from Domaine Decelle-Villa in Nuits-St-Georges, and he comes with good experience and a strong background. But he is of course moving into the major leagues, as de Vogüé is one of the old, legendary growers, alongside DRC and Rousseau as estates with a long and prominent history.
I had the pleasure of talking with Jean Lupatelli who, aside from his natural respect for the task ahead, had already implemented some changes during the 2021 harvest.
He has changed the fruit cases used for the harvest – smaller 20-kg boxes – that should ensure more undamaged grapes reach the winery. This is important if whole-cluster vinification is going to be partly or even fully employed. Furthermore, the old mechanical pump used to fill the fermenting tanks with incoming grapes has been replaced with a more gentle elevation system. This should give purer, better-defined fruit, as the grapes arrive in the tank undamaged. But we will see with the 2021s.
There are indications of further use of whole clusters in 2021 and forward, but it’s too early to say how much at this stage. It should be noted that the de Vogüé wines for most part have been destemmed under Millet’s reign, with only very few exceptions.
It’s natural that vinification changes over time, and after 30-plus years one expects to see the employment of modern techniques. This should be welcomed, and with high expectations.
However, I have before me the 2020s, Millet’s last vintage, after he himself in 1985 also took over the vintage from his predecessor Alain Roumier, who took over from his father in 1955!
The 2020s at Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé
It’s been more than 20 years since I first tasted the wines at de Vogüé – in the year 2000, as far as I recall.
This is a tradition, and change is difficult for older people like me. To begin with, I expected the wines to be served in the same order as usual. So when Jean Lupatelli suggested a different tasting order, I agreed, as I want him to make his mark on the domaine from the beginning.
The tasting order is reflected below, but I was able to have the white Musigny included, something that was very rare with Millet.
The 2020s here are lively and vivid compared with the somewhat opulent 2018s and the outstanding 2019s.
As at many other domaines, the 2020s appear cooler and more classical, although they in fact are fairly intense and concentrated, with quite some alcohol to support the substance. It was, after all, a hot vintage.
So, in the order tasted:
Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé Chambolle-Musigny 2020
The Chambolle village is intense and dark for this level, both in colour and on the palate. The 2020 vintage has a fair amount of substance and intensity that need to be employed carefully. This village is of medium density, transparent, and fresh. Currently no great charmer, it does have a delicate mid-palate, showing fine promise.
(Drink from 2032) – Very Good – (89-90p) – Tasted 29/10/2021
Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé Bonnes Mares 2020
The Bonnes Mares is darker – as always – with charming mid-palate fruit. De Vogüé has not extracted too heavily (which can be dangerous in the 2020s), and the fruit is quite forward and deep. Not the biggest Bonnes Mares, but one with lovely potential.
(Drink from 2035) – Very Fine – (93-94p) – Tasted 29/10/2021
Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé Chambolle-Musigny Les Amoureuses 2020
The Amoureuses is struggling a bit to define itself after the Bonnes Mares. After some time in the glass, it evolves into charming notes of red and dark fruits, including redcurrant and pomegranate. This has a fresh, mineral note of limestone. It will need quite some time, but is still a quite classic Les Amoureuses.
(Drink from 2035) – Very Fine – (93-94p) – Tasted 29/10/2021 –
Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru 2020
The 1er cru – made from Musigny vines younger than 25 years – is going to be increasingly rare, as quite a large proportion of the vines used for this wine are now reaching 25 years old. This year will be one of the oldest versions produced under the current system, and less 1er cru will most likely be produced in future. The 2020 is a good wine, and it has a lovely, charming bouquet – peony, roses, vivid and weighty fruit – as well as notes of raspberries and blackcurrant. With its fresh spring feel, it seems to show very nice phenolic ripeness.
(Drink from 2035) – Fine+ – (91-93p) – Tasted 29/10/2021 –
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