It’s Wednesday afternoon, and my tastings are progressing smoothly in Burgundy, with their number well adapted to my pace and thoroughness.
I often wonder how some tasters can manage four, five or even six tastings a day; I’ve even heard about seven or eight daily visits. This is beyond my understanding, and certainly beyond my ability to take in the spirit of domaine, its wines, and the people behind them.
Great wines are made by people, and understanding the people, their state of mind, their history, and the background of the estate is crucial for appreciating and enjoying the wines.
Drinking a great Burgundy is not only a casual mouthful of pinot; it is a hedonistic journey through the terroir, the clones, the cuvees, and with the understanding of history which permits one to respect the delicate balances that create a mosaic of impressions on your palate.
Burgundy is so much more than Parker points and instant ratings. Give the wines time to evolve, and take your time.
For me, the depth of a visit is key, and crucial if the readers are to get into the more emotional expressions of the wines. One needs to spend time with the winemaker, and not rush off to the next tasting and photoshoot. Winehogs don’t do instant reviews by the daily dozen via superficial experiences.
Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé – the essence of Burgundy
Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé is the epitome of Burgundian tradition and history, but updated to current standards by Jean-Luc Pepin and his new winemaker Jean Lupatelli.
Burgundy and tradition are strongly linked, and this has to be respected, as does nature. But as in all other aspects of life, change eventually takes the stage.
At de Vogüé, Jean Lupatelli has taken his first strides with the cool and exciting 2021 vintage, his first to go from harvest to bottling.
New winemaker = new ideas and outlook
Jean Lupatelli came from Domaine Decelle-Villa in Nuits-St-Georges, and he came with new experiences and a strong background. He has, however, moved into the major league, as de Vogüé is one of the old, legendary growers, alongside DRC and Rousseau. These are estates with long, prominent histories.
This is my third tasting with Jean Lupatelli who, in line with his natural respect for the task ahead, has already implemented some fundamental changes at Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé.
During the ’21 harvest, he replaced the fruit cases used with smaller, 20-kilogram boxes to ensure fewer damaged grapes reached the winery. This is important if whole-cluster vinification is going to be partly employed. Furthermore, the old mechanical pump used to fill the fermenting tanks with grapes has been replaced with a gentler elevator system. This gives purer, better-defined fruit, as the grapes arrive in the tank in a better state.
The winery has been restored with respect for the historic building and traditions, all the while ensuring that its facilities are up to the modern standards of a 2022 Burgundy estate.
One of the most notable changes is the use of a relatively large percentage of whole clusters. The village Chambolle maintains fully destemmed grapes in 2021, but the top-end wines – the 1er Cru, Les Amoureuses, Bonnes Mares, and Musigny – all employ a 50% whole-cluster share.
It should be noted that the de Vogüé wines were 100% destemmed under previous winemaker Francois Millet, with very few exceptions. So this is a big change – a change of regime almost – that opens new possibilities and options.
It’s natural that vinification techniques change over time, and after 30-plus years one expects to see the employment of more modern tools.
So we have before us the 2021s, Jean Lupatelli’s first vintage. The last change of winemaker here was when Millet started in 1985-86. Before him, Alain Roumier was in charge, and he took over from his father in 1955!
History continues to be written for you to appreciate and enjoy.
The 2021s at Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé
It’s been more than 20 years since I first tasted the wines at de Vogüé – in 2000, as far as I recall. Yes, I am that old!
Jean Lupatelli is a reflective guy, and he’s graciously agreed to continue the twice-yearly tasting plan I’ve had the good fortune to have at de Vogüé. This gives me unique insights into the wines, and is gratifying as a taster – or reviewer, or critic if you prefer. It’s also unusual in these modern, busy days.
Tasting new traditions
The 2021s are from a cool, lively vintage, and are quite vivid compared with the somewhat opulent 2018s, the outstanding 2019s, and the robust 2020s.
As at other domaines, the ’21s are cooler and more classical. Are they back to the old-school, cooler vintages? Perhaps; but I don’t really believe in romanticizing older years.
Significant changes have been made: 50% whole clusters (in all wines aside except the village), and on the top of this, numerous improvements related to harvest and grape handling during the process.
The fruit is more delicate and elegant in its tannic structure, and the palette of berries and other fruit in the wines is more refined and light-footed. The wines have a silkier, more sensual character, even in a cooler year like 2021.
The 50% share of whole clusters is perfect for producing the silky, elegantly sensual feel. It avoids the stemmy character one could get from a very high percentage of whole clusters.
Chambolle is all about refinement and delicacy, and the new style at de Vogüé has incorporated this into the wines.
So, in the order tasted:
Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé Chambolle-Musigny 2021
My first taste of the village, as it now has completed its malolactic fermentation. This is a sensual beauty – fresh and vivid. I love the deep fruit for the level – very fresh, juicy, red and darker fruit. It has a lovely mineral note, coming as it does from the upper parts of Chambolle. Fully destemmed in 2021.
(Drink from 2032) – Fine (90-91p) – Tasted 20/10/2022 –
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