Burgundy and tradition are strongly linked, but as in all other aspects of life, change eventually takes the stage.
At Domaine Comte Georges Vogüé, new winemaker Jean Lupatelli has made his first strides with the cool and exciting 2021 vintage. He took over from François Millet, who retired last year after more than three decades of winemaking at de Vogüé.
A tricky vintage, 2021 was the first made by Jean Lupatelli – harvest, now elevage, and later, bottling. A new chapter begins at the storied estate.
New winemaker = new ideas and outlook
Jean Lupatelli comes from Domaine Decelle-Villa in Nuits-St-Georges, and he comes with good experience and a strong background. But he’s now moving up to the major leagues, as de Vogüé is one of the old, legendary growers, alongside DRC and Rousseau. These are estates with long, prominent histories.
This is my second tasting with Jean Lupatelli who, in line with his natural respect for the task ahead, had already implemented some changes during the 2021 harvest.
He changed the cases used for the harvest – smaller, 20-kilogram boxes – to ensure fewer damaged grapes reaching 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 grapes has been replaced with a gentler elevator system. This give purer, better-defined fruit, as the grapes arrive in tank in a better state.
One of the most notable changes is the use of whole clusters in the 2021s. The village Chambolle maintains fully destemmed grapes, but the top end wines – the 1er cru, Les Amoureuses, Bonnes Mares, and Musigny – employ a 50% whole-cluster share. It should be noted that the de Vogüé wines for the most part were 100% destemmed under 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 I have before me 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.
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 (together with Jean-Luc Pepin) to maintain the twice-yearly tasting scheme I’ve had the good fortune to have at de Vogüé for quite a while. 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
I expected the wines to be served in the same order as used by Millet. Yet Jean Lupatelli has implemented a different tasting order. It’s good to shake up habits and traditions occasionally.
Enough babble and small talk; to the notes!
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 2021s 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.
And changes have been made: the 50% whole cluster (in all wines aside except the village), and on the top of this, numerous improvements related to harvest and grape handling during the process.
This has resulted in finer, more detailed fruit in the wines, despite the 50% whole-cluster share. The fruit is more delicate and elegant regarding the tannic structure, and the palette of berries and other fruit in the wines is more refined and light-footed than in the Millet wines. This is a big change.
So, in the order tasted:
Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé Chambolle-Musigny 2021
The 2021s have quite a level of malic acid, hence this shows its impact until malolactic fermentation has been completed. The Chambolle village has only completed around 10% of its malo, and is therefore difficult to evaluate currently. I will taste this again the next time I visit de Vogüé.
NR – Tasted 05/07/2022
Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé Bonnes Mares 2021
The Bonnes Mares is surprisingly light-footed and vivid, mainly due to the character of the vintage, but also thanks to the changes in handling the grapes and the whole-cluster vinification, both of which have influenced the wine’s character. The ’21s here are made with a light hand, so the stems are discreet and delicate, leaving a slight silkiness on the palate and an impact on the nose. While airy, this is still concentrated, with some fine floral components on the nose – pink and/or red roses. The oak impact remains a question mark, as it will influence the weight of the wine during elevage. The whole-cluster inclusion does have an impact on how the wine reacts to oak, both in weight and expression. Time will tell. Please note that I have not assigned points at this stage.
(Drink from 2035) – Very Fine+ – Tasted 05/07/2022 –
Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé Chambolle-Musigny Les Amoureuses 2021
The Amoureuses is currently slightly reduced. It’s silky, deep, and intense, with a sensual feeling and very discreet stem influence. Delicate white roses show, refined and subtle. It is still early, but this shows lovely promise. The domaine has uprooted 40% of its Amoureuses plots since this vintage, to prepare for replanting.
(Drink from 2035) – Very Fine+ – Tasted 05/07/2022 –
Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru 2021
The 1er cru – made from Musigny vines younger than 25 years – is slowly but surely disappearing, as the vines in Musigny age. To be honest, it now shows the traits of a lighter Musigny. And with very small production, it’s doubtful that the ‘ 21 1er cru will be commercialized. That is a bit sad, as the wine has offered terrific moments over the years since it was introduced in 1995. The 2021 has beautiful pink roses on the nose. It’s elegant, even sensual, with a rich and flavourful mid-palate. How much weight will this gain before the end of elevage?
(Drink from 2035) – Very Fine – Tasted 05/07/2022 –
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