The 2018 vintage is a hot, generous year for Clos Vougeot, following in the footsteps of 2015 although perhaps not quite rivalling the quality of the best ’15s.
Francois Labet made three intense and expressive Clos Vougeot in 2018, so let’s taste these wonders.
And to clarify: I use Clos de Vougeot for the place, and Clos Vougeot for the wine. It may not be logical, but at least I’m consistent.
Chateau de la Tour
Chateau de la Tour is the largest owner of Clos de Vougeot vineyards, with holdings in the centre of this enormous grand gru.
François Labet makes three cuvées of Clos Vougeot – the Cuvée Classique, the Cuvée Vieilles Vignes and, in recent exceptional vintages, a top wine, the Cuvée Clos Vougeot Hommage a Jean Morin, has topped the programme.
François Labet in July
While a plot of the oldest vines has been – or will soon be – uprooted for replanting, the average age of the de la Tour vines is close to 70 years!
Chateau de la Tour – a key part of Clos de Vougeot history
Chateau de la Tour is located in the chateau just below the big, medieval Chateau du Clos de Vougeot. The de la Tour building was erected in 1890, and has been in the Labet family since.
It is connected to the main part of the de la Tour vineyard vine holdings in Clos de Vougeot (see map below).
Chateau de la Tour is the largest owner of Clos de Vougeot, with a total of 5.48 ha. The main section is located just outside the chateau, oriented north to south, and connected to a 2-ha section in the very center of the vineyard. There are also two smaller plots at the bottom of the vineyard, and one at the top.
The history of the Chateau de la Tour holdings
The Chateau de la Tour holdings have been in the family’s possession since 1889, making it one of the oldest of the current owners.
A Mr. Beaudet from Beaune acquired some of the vineyards from the estate of Jules Ouvrard in 1889, when the Clos de Vougeot was divided for the first time after being a monopole for several decades. Amongst the six original buyers were several large negociants, including Liger-Belair and Léonce Bocquet (who also bought the chateau).
Mr. Beaudet had a daughter who was married to Jean Morin of Nuits-Saint-Georges, and they took over her father’s holdings in Clos de Vougeot. Jean Morin had two daughters who married into the Labet and Déchelette families, thus introducing the Labet name into the estate. The Labet family had its own estate in Beaune, and today François Labet is running both Domaine Pierre Labet and Chateau de la Tour.
Chateau de la Tour 2018 – the tasting notes
I was very excited to taste the three cuvées of Clos Vougeot. The regular cuvée – Cuvée Classique – is made from the younger vines, which in this case are quite old, as the average age of the vines is around 70 years.
The cuvée Vieilles Vignes is made from vines older than 80 years. It should be noted that before the 2015 vintage, the cuvée Vieilles Vignes was made from one plot of old vines planted in 1910, while in recent vintages (from 2015), it’s made from old vines from all sections of the Labet holdings in the clos.
Lastly, we have the Clos Vougeot Hommage a Jean Morin – also made from the oldest vines, but using only the first bunch from the fruiting cane closest to the rootstock, thus the most directly nourished by the vine. This is a cuvée invented by François Labet that adds both intensity and complexity to the already impressive cuvée Vieilles Vignes.
Chateau de la Tour Clos Vougeot Cuvée Classique 2018
The Cuvée Classique 2018 is cooler and more focused than the rather ripe, big, and broad-shouldered Vieilles Vignes. The bouquet is brimming with red and dark fruit, vivid and intense, with fine detail. There are delightful spicy notes and a nice mineral backbone, and vivid orange-yellow cloudberry fruit. I really like the balance in this wine … and it’s not even the best of the three!
(Drink from 2034) – Very Fine+ – (93-94p) – Tasted 06/07/2020 –
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