Capitain-Gagnerot Clos Vougeot Grand Cru 2018
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 2018 VINTAGE
There has been talk over the past year of the 2018 vintage in Burgundy being one of the greatest of all time. Comparisons with the mythical 1947, and all that. But let’s be careful and take a closer look.
We’ve tasted some marvelous wines, both white and red, and from all of the appellation levels. Purity and concentration would be the key words across the board.
But lest we forget, 2018 was the hottest vintage in Burgundy since 2003. And frankly, we were expecting wines like we got in 2003: flabby whites and Cote du Rhone-like reds. But that did not happen. And the secret to understanding 2018 Burgundy lies in understanding the difference between these two very hot years.
If you look at 2018 from start to finish, not only was it hot, it was dry: 50% less precipitation than the annual average over the past 30 years. However, if you were here in the early part of the year, you’ll certainly remember the rain.
After a very dry summer in 2017, winter 2017-18 was wet. It rained nearly every day through March and into April. And the vine was slow to bud.
That all changed in the middle of April. Wet soil and higher temperatures brought on explosive growth in the vineyards that the vignerons had a tough time keeping up with. In a week we went from bud burst to unfurled leaves.
The first flowers burst in mid-May. The crop set regularly with very little disruption, and summer settled in. The early wet conditions followed by April’s warmth saw the onset of mildew, but the fungus never stood a chance.
It was a hot and sunny summer. Some would say it was a heat wave and a drought. And we started to see signs of stress in vineyards in certain sectors. Things were better where there was a little rain. But August was bone dry. In fact, there was no rain from June 15th to the end of October.
It was about this time that comparisons to 2015 cropped up. You could see ripeness rapidly approaching, and there was talk of harvest starting at the end of August.
The vines were incredibly healthy; no moisture means no threat from mildew or odium. No rot. Good ripeness.
And, for the first time since 2009….a normal yield! So, let the harvest begin!
And it did, in the last days of August. What was most astonishing right from the start was that the perceived acidity levels seem OK. Granted, there’s no malic acid, but the levels of tartaric acid seem to be compensating, and there is an over-all impression of balance.
Also amazing was the amount of juice the crop produced. Not only was the yield bigger than the past 10 years’ average, but the amount of juice set a record for Burgundy. So there will be a lot of 2018 around.
And all this in a year that felt more like the south of Spain than Burgundy as we know it. The only thing we can attribute the quality of 2018 to is the abundant winter rains, and the vine’s ability to go searching for water when it needs it.
COTE DE NUITS
Say ‘Vougeot’ and everyone immediately thinks ‘Clos de Vougeot, Vougeot’s most famous vineyard. But this little village of the Côte de Nuits has other fine vineyards as well. The name itself derives from that of the little river Vouge which runs through. The abbey of Cîteaux established these vineyards in the 12th century and, through centuries of free labor, laid the foundations of their reputation and an over-all understanding of the diversity of the Burgundian terroir. One of Vougeot’s particularities is that, unusually for the Côte de Nuits, there is a relatively important production of white wines from Chardonnay.
Produced in the commune of Vougeot, the appellation Vougeot includes 4 premiers crus. The commune of Vougeot also produces a grand cru appellation, Clos de Vougeot
Red Vougeot has much in common with its illustrious neighbors, Clos de Vougeot, Musigny, and Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Les Amoureuses). Its color should be crimson and purple in youth, deep and luminous. It develops youthful aromas of violets, black cherry and blackcurrant. When older, it goes to underbrush and truffle over animal notes. The attack is pretty straightforward, and should show acidity and tannin balanced with alcohol.
White Vougeot is often limpid white gold. The initial bouquet is often floral, acacia, often with hints of exotic fruits. A touch of minerality is often a surprise. In the older wines, aromas range from spice cake to fleshy fruits like quince and fig. There is that underlying richness which often found in these rare Côte de Nuits Chardonnays.
The vines grow at altitudes between 240 and 280 meters. Those on the upper slopes occupy shallow brown limestone soils. The soils on the lower slopes are limestone, fine-textured marl, and clay. These plots lie very close to the northern part of the Clos de Vougeot, and in some spots are separated only by the wall.
Red wines - Pinot Noir
White wines - Chardonnay
Production surface area
1 hectare (ha) = 2.4 acres
Reds: 12.00 ha (including 9.45 ha premier cru)
Whites : 3.87 ha (including 3.04 ha premier cru)
Reds tend to be sturdy, but not without a certain delicacy that comes across as length and finish. For this reason, it pairs well with dishes equally intense in flavor. Meat dishes are best roasted or braised, tender and melting. Roast fowl, roast lamb, or game birds. Game, braised or stewed, will prove a worthy partner. As for cheeses, medium flavored, soft-centered cheeses like Reblochon or Vacherin will make a good match.
The richness and delicacy of Vougeot whites make them a match for crustaceans such as lobster or crawfish, fish (either baked or in cream sauce), good quality poultry, and sweetbreads.
On the label, the names Vougeot and Vougeot 1er Cru may be followed by the name of a specific vineyard, called a climat.
The following climats are classified as premier cru:
Clos de la Perrière
Le Clos Blanc
Les Petits Vougeots
The following climat is a village wine from a single vineyard, known as a lieu-dit: