Capitain-Gagnerot Vosne-Romanee ‘Aux Raviolles’ 2019
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.
There’s a popular saying here in Burgundy which points out that, since the start of the 20th century, vintages ending in ‘9’ have been exceptional. So when 2019 came around, we were secretly anticipating something special. Little did we know!
Every vintage comes with its own hyperbole: best of the decade; greatest of the century; another 1990. And it’s true, as the climate continues to warm, there has been some remarkable wine produced in recent years. But in Burgundy in 2019, it got hot.
Both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay like to come to maturity slowly. Too much heat cooks the elegance out of them. So climate change is an existential issue for Burgundy wine as we know it.
But in 2019 something remarkable happened. I hesitate to call it a paradigm shift; it may well be a one-off. But in a year where, in some places, grapes turned to raisins on the vine, Burgundy has given us a vintage worthy of the hyperbole.
You won’t find many lacey, delicate wines this year. The vintage will be unapologetically bold and unbelievably concentrated. The whites are indulgent, often explosive, and pinned to a mind-bogglingly good acidic framework, given the summer heat. The reds are sophisticated and elegant, alive.
Perhaps most tellingly, despite the hot summer, this was not one of those late-August harvests that we’re getting accustomed to. The harvest got underway in the Cote de Beaune on 12 September. And some in the Cote de Nuits did not begin picking until the 23rd. The fruit was ripe earlier, but the fine conditions allowed the growers to wait for the holy grail: phenolic maturity.
You rarely get fruit maturity (the sugar part of the equation) plus phenolic maturity (the tannins in the pips and stems) coming together at the same time. Usually you sacrifice one for the other. You can’t force it to happen. Nature bestows it upon you. But when it does happen, that, almost by definition, is a great vintage.
2019 will be a great vintage. Think 2018 with more energy. The only downside is that, as opposed to the bumper crop we saw in 2018, 2019 was a small crop. Down by as much as 60% in the southern zones where it was hottest.
Let’s look quickly at how the season developed. The winter 2018/19 was mild, with higher than average temperatures in December and February. There was a lot of rain in December which many claim could ultimately have saved the vintage from the summer’s drought.
Spring was warm and the growth cycle started earlier than usual. There were precocious zones with bud burst in early April. But cold weather set in on 5 April with frost in many areas. Frost damage would have an effect on yields, particularly in the Maconnais. The cold weather held on through mid-April with several consequential frost risks.
Warm weather returned in May and remained until early June when temperatures dropped again, slowing growth again and hindering flowering. There was a good bit of flower abortion (millerandage), which, again, took its part of the yield at harvest.
Then mid-summer was hot-hot And dry-dry. The vines, for the most part, were in good shape going into the heat wave, but the stress was excessive. Vines handled the conditions differently from one plot to the next. Consensus is that old vines, with their deep roots, were able to find water in the subsoil. And that younger, well-tended vines, had a similar advantage. Vines with roots that went looking for water near the surface, however, suffered towards the end of the season, as they scorched and shriveled.
There was just a bit of rain in August, and from then on through September was hot but fine. In certain areas Pinot Noir ripened before Chardonnay, so harvest planning was complicated. The first Cremant vineyards were picked at the very end of August, and the harvest continued through to mid-October.
Harvest was a joy for the most part. Good weather. No disease. And the fruit that survived frost and fire was beautiful. Fermentation in both white and red went off easily. Whites finished slowly, gently, giving
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