Here’s a classic Vosne-Romanee from the elegant single-vineyard ‘Aux Raviolles’, but definitely produced with Capitain flair and finesse. Red like a jewel, with black, black fruit and spices. This is balanced power,velvety and fresh, the classic Vosne ‘fist in a velvet glove’.
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
Lying between Flagey-Échezeaux and Nuits-Saint-Georges, Vosne-Romanée holds the middle ground in the Côte de Nuits geographically. But in terms of reputation and fame, it is the jewel in the crown of Burgundian wine villages. With six Grands Crus, every one of them world famous, and enough quality premiers crus vineyards to lead some to say that there is not a bad parcel in the village, Vosne-Romanée is the image of the Cote de Nuits and drives the wine world’s imagination to a style of Pinot Noir that, really, only exists here. For a thousand years, the value of Vosne’s grand cru vineyards has been understood and appreciated. It’s hardly surprising that, unlike most of the rest of Burgundy’s vineyards which are parceled and shared by numerous winemakers, these noble plots have for the most part always been singly-held.
Produced in the communes of and Flagey-Échezeaux, appellation Vosne-Romanée includes 14 premiers crus and 6 grands crus.
The color red in Vosne-Romanée takes on a different meaning than it has in most other Burgundy appellations. The wines can vary from pure ruby to black tulip and are often quite intense. Or they can be a fiery red darkening to garnet. One of the rules in Pinot Noir appreciation is that, if you are looking for color, you have come to the wrong place. Vosne-Romanée may be the exception. Fruit over spice is the classic nose with strawberry and blackcurrant sitting atop cinnamon and almond. These youthful aromas evolve with age into grown-up notes of cherries in brandy, leather and fur, woodland scents and game. You expect the wine to be a velvety and refined Pinot Noir at its most elegant IT can be a little austere in its youth but the mature wine is fleshy, voluptuous.
The vines grow at altitudes of 250 to 310 meters and face east or, in some cases, slightly south of east. The plots growing the village appellation lie either at the top of the slope or at its foot on either side of the grand cru climats and in some cases reaching the same altitude. The soils are limestone mixed with clayey marls. Topsoil varies from very shallow to a meter deep.
Red wines only - Pinot Noir
Production surface area
1 hectare (ha) = 2.4 acres
153.60 ha (including 56.64 ha Premier Cru)
Powerful and tannic yet voluptuous and meaty leads us to match strong flavors and fibrous textures here. Good-quality poultry, oven-roasted lamb, roasted game birds are obvious choices. But a thick cut steak will match the fullness as well. And spicy poultry preparations are surprisingly well-suited. A less obvious match. but one that works well, is flash sauté of raw foie gras. These wines will stand up to intensely-flavoured cheeses such as Époisses, Langres, Saint-Florentin, or Aisy Cendré. And every wine goes well as Cîteaux.
The commune of Vosne-Romanée produces 6 grands crus and the commune of Flagey-Échezeaux 2 grands crus. On the label, the names Vosne-Romanée and Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru may be followed by the name of a specific vineyard, known as a climat.
The following climats are classified as premier cru:
Au-dessus des Malconsorts
Clos des Réas
La Croix Rameau
Les Beaux Monts
Les Petits Monts
The following climats are village wines from a single vineyard, known as a lieu-dit:
Au-Dessus de la Rivière
Aux Champs Perdrix
La Croix Blanche
Le Pré de la Folie
Les Beaux Monts Hauts Rougeots
Porte-Feuilles ou Murailles du Clos