Domaine Alain Vignot Bourgogne Cote Saint-Jacques Rouge 2021
This Pinot Noir benefits from the best exposure (south/south east) and excellent terroir. It has a structured nose and balanced attack, with aromas of pure red fruits.
Domaine Alain Vignot
Bourgogne Cote Saint Jacques
Don’t be surprised if you have not heard of the appellation Bourgogne Cote Saint Jacques.
There is very little of it, and there are very few producers. Alain Vignot essentially invented the appellation in 1975 after years of proving the worth of the distinct terroir of the hillside at Joigny, above the river Yonne in the furthest-northwest part of Burgundy.
We came across Alain Vignot’s wine, essentially his iconic Cote Saint Jacques Vin Gris, in our early days aboard our peniche-hotel Le Papillon. We often moored on the Yonne in the towns of Joigny and Auxerre, and Vignot wines were as local as you could get!
We were always deeply impressed by his Vin Gris, by the expression of Pinot Gris produced on the steep flint and limestone slopes overlooking the Yonne River valley. It’s a wine unique in Burgundy. And it was the only wine produced on the Cote Saint Jacques for much of the region’s history, dating back to phylloxera.
Then in 1980, Alain Vignot replanted Pinot Noir. And in 1992 Chardonnay reappeared. Alain Vignot became not only the locomotive of an appellation that he all but created, he became the benchmark of what these wines could be.
From fewer than 4 acres in 1970, he developed a domain that today extends over 29 acres. Work and perseverance. Risks, both commercial and professional. This is the profile of a visionary.
Domaine Vignot wines are a perfect fit with Elden Selections’ ethic: a great winemaker working in a lesser-known appellation, and producing Burgundy worthy of the region’s reputation and accolades.
Nothing abides. Just as we Burgundy purists begrudgingly acknowledged the vitality and variety of the three previous hot-weather vintages, along came 2021, classic Burgundy with its frost, damp and low yields.
Way back when, in pre-climate-change conditions, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay would struggle, year after year, to come to maturity in what was this, the northernmost spot in Europe where grapes could ripen enough to make still wine. That struggle was, in fact, the very definition of viticulture in Burgundy (chaptalization notwithstanding).
But then weather patterns started to change, not drastically, but gradually: milder winters and earlier springs; hotter summers and earlier autumns. By the time we got to 2018, then 2019 and then 2020, those mild winters were breeding grounds for mildew, the early springs were prone to killer frosts, those hot summers forced ripeness onto reticent grapes varieties, and early autumns left little time to the winemaker to sort it all out.
If this all sounds like an accident waiting to happen, hang on to your hat; it’s all perspective.
2018 was wet, wet, wet through winter and up to mid-April. Then an explosive bud-burst sent the winemakers scurrying to control the vegetation. But then it got hot, hot, south-of-Spain hot, and mildew never stood a chance. Early harvest, no health issues. Big crop. Great vintage.
2019 was wet through the winter. Early bud burst, then frost took part of the crop. A warm set up flowering, but cold weather set in, taking another part of the crop. Then it got hot and very dry. Well-tend vines and, especially, old vines did well because there was last winter’s water in the water table, and good vines can go deep for water. Hot, healthy harvest. Great really ripe vintage.
2020 was precocious. Mild wet winter. Bud burst in mid-April. From that point on, there is not much to report weatherwise. It was hot and dry from June through to the end. Harvest started in August. Indeed, there was more stress on the winemakers than there was on the vines. When to pick? Overall, great vintage both white and red.
See a pattern?
And 2021…well in 2021 things returned to ‘normal’ (if such a thing is possible in Burgundy!) First came devastating frosts in the early part of April, which were followed by a cool May, leading to a damp summer with the ever-present threat of hail.
Chardonnay was more affected than Pinot Noir in that the red grapes come into leaf later. What all this means for the Burgundy harvest is that it will be a story of low yields (miniscule in places) and a late harvest.
When the older winemakers talk about what to expect this year, words such as ‘historic’ are used and comparisons are drawn with the harvest of 1970.
Some say we could be down 30% on 2020s already low yields. But it isn’t all bad news. Winemakers are nothing if not hardy, and their optimism cannot be shaken that easily. Fewer grapes on the vine means that those which have survived should have an intensity of flavor which sets them apart and may mark this harvest out as extraordinary. There may be other upsides, too: because the harvest is later, the grapes have had more ‘hang time’ which could mean good phenolic maturity.
BOURGOGNE COTE D’OR
REGIONAL APPELLATION OF BURGUNDY
In 2017, the producers of the Regional appellation "Bourgogne", located in Côte de Beaune and Côte de Nuits, obtained the additional mention "BOURGOGNE CÔTE D'OR", which thus becomes a Bourgogne with additional Geographical Denomination.
This name is reserved for red and white still wines produced within the 40 villages in Côte de Beaune and Côte de Nuits.
We welcomed this development as it strengthens our philosophy of what “Regional’ Burgundy wine should be. This strengthens our philosophy that simple Bourgogne has the potential to better express specific terroir and vintage.
With other producers, regional wines can be produced by blending wines sourced from across the region, the quality and specificity of this appellation can be questionable. On the other hand, with Elden producers, many Bourgogne wines are produced within a single commune and some even from a single vineyard.
So, the addition of this new AOC is good as it adds more specificity to the terroir. As with all Burgundy wine, you need to know its pedigree and who made it.
The appellation Bourgogne Côte d’Or is restricted to wines grown within the defined limits of the appellation:
Côte d’Or 91 communes