Capitain-Gagnerot Clos Vougeot Grand Cru 2012
Corton is the only Grand Cru red in the Cote de Beaune. But it covers a lot of the Corton hillside, and hence there are many different faces to Corton. With mid-slope position and due east exposure, this Corton Grandes Lolieres Grand Cru is the last Corton vineyard before Ladoix, and sits just outside the Capitain's back door. The vines date from 1950, and give wines that are solidly framed with a potential for long aging. Rich, balanced, powerful and elegant, these are all traits you expect in a well-made grand cru.. Curiously, the Corton Grandes Lolieres is contiguous to both the Capitain Ladoix 1er Cru ‘Bois Roussot’ and their Aloxe-Corton 1er Cru ‘Les Moutottes. So here is a chance to taste 3 appellations from the same producer from vineyards that share a common border! Burgundy can be beautiful that way.
Anybody who has followed us since our start in early 1996 knows the Maison Capitain-Gagnerot in Ladoix-Serrigny. We have seen three generation now. Roger Capitain was our first mentor in Burgundy, and we learned our craft leaning against a wine barrel, soaking up his wisdom and discussing his inimitable wines. His sons Patrice and Michel, and now Patrice's son Pierre Francois (the whole family, really), carry on a tradition that is most easily described as a style. There is no mistaking a Capitain wine. Once you know it, you can pick one out just in the bouquet. It's a purity. And it's our benchmark in Burgundy.
BURGUNDY 2012 VINTAGE
What a surprise! To say today that the 2012 harvest produced, not just a good Burgundy vintage but an exceptional one, beggars belief.
Here in Burgundy it is often said that June makes the quantity and September makes the quality. And 2012 was a classic example. But because 2012 was such a lousy growing season, and because the wine is just so good, folks are trying to understand why and how that can be.
Here’s how we saw it. It all started well before the sap started to rise in the vines. February was frigid. We had two consecutive weeks where the temperature did not rise above freezing. Our producers tell us that this polar period may have had an important effect on what was to come, notably the poor flowering later in June.Then March was just about all the springtime we had. In fact it was more like summer than summer was. And with those warm dry sunny days, the vines leapt into action. The sap rose and the buds burst well before the end of the month. Everyone was talking about an August harvest! It was, considering what was to come, a glorious time.
Then April brought radical change. A four month period of gloomy cold and wet set in. It rained one day in three until July. And during this time a series of hailstorms shattered the vineyards, especially in the south. The vines flowered in early June, but this was slow and drawn out over the course of the month. Because of this, a lot of the flowering failed. Every incident, it seemed, reduced the potential yield of the crop. Many producers reported as much as 50% crop loss. Some, in the areas worst hit by hail, were almost wiped out.
Then it got warm and the threat of rot turned to reality. Mildew and oidium were rampant. Producers later said that if you were late with copper sulfate treatments in 2012 it was fatal. Then it got hot. And grapes literally grilled on the vine in August, scorched by the heat.
The locals are saying that every month claimed its part of the crop. So the first thing to remember about 2012 is that it is a small harvest, and a very small harvest in certain zones. But what happened next saved the day for what remained on the vine.
Mid-August was hot and sunny, and this continued until well in to of September. The well-watered vines fed what grapes remained, and sugar levels shot up dramatically. It felt like a time of healing. The crop was made up of small clusters of grapes with very thick skins, with lots of space between the berries to allow them to expand and to let air circulate.
So with a healthy albeit small crop on the vines, and what appeared to be stable weather conditions, the producers felt safe that they could wait for ideal maturity. And when harvest began in the latter half of September, the grapes were in good condition. Which is just as well, because halfway through it started to rain and got cold. The worry again was rot. But the thick-skinned grapes were resistant, and the cool temperature kept botrytis at bay.
Those cool final days had another advantage. The fruit was brought to the winery at an ideal temperature to allow a few days of cool maceration before fermentations started, slowly and gently. So from the very start, these wines have shown brilliant color and delicate aromas.
COTE DE NUITS
The Clos de Vougeot in the heart of the Côte de Nuits occupies most of the vineyard area belonging to the commune of Vougeot. Vougeot's neighbors are Chambolle-Musigny, Flagey-Échezeaux and Vosne-Romanée. On the slopes at the upper end of the Clos, it abuts on the vineyards of Musigny and Grands-Échezeaux.
Founded around 1110 AD by the monks of nearby Cîteaux, who remained its owners until the Revolution of 1789, the Clos de Vougeot is a Burgundian icon. Its 50.96 hectares have never been broken up and it pretty much retains its identity intact within the walls which were built to enclose it 5 centuries ago.
WinesNowadays the vineyard is divided among approximately 80 owners. And for this reason no single description can be applied to the reds wines. There are, however, common features. Intense color, a suave floral bouquet of rose and violet. Blackberry and raspberry fruit, mint, licorice and truffle. The palate is rich, elegant and delicate for its heft. A long finish and long aging potential.
TerroirsThe Clos de Vougeot, at over 120 acres (50.96 ha), is all classified as Grand Cru. Yet it is anything but that in terms of soil make up and quality. The top end is certainly Grand Cru, butting up against Musigny and Grands-Echezeaux. But the lower reaches have more in common with the neighboring climats in Vosne-Romanee and the Vougeot premiers crus. At about 255 meters above sea-level, its upper end is gently sloping, with soil only some 40 cm deep, coarse-grained and gravelly over a limestone base. In the center, at about 250 meters of altitude, the soil is still shallow (45 cm), brown, more clayey, overlying broken limestone. The lower portion (around 240 meters) has a brown soil which is deeper (90 cm) and lies on a layer of marl, rich in clay and alluvium.
Only red wines - Pinot Noir
Production surface area
1 hectare (ha) = 2.4 acres
Reds : 50.96 ha
Clos Vougeot, solid and opulent, is complex in a way that is both sensual and structured. Strong soft-centered cheeses are often served. But, without question, its closest companions are meats that match its power and intensity. Roast or grilled beef, or any and all game (furred or feathered) roasted, braised or in sauce.
On the label, the words 'Grand Cru' must appear immediately below the name of the appellation in characters of identical size.