Domaine Alain Vignot Bourgogne Cote Saint-Jacques Vin Gris 2022
This is a real Pinot Gris, a serious food wine which offers a complex aromatic palette due in large part to its flinty terroir. It is called ‘gray’ wine because of its incomparable color, likened to a ‘partridge eye’, (l’oeil de perdrix) found in some classic expressions of champagne.
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.
After three successive high-quality but low-quantity vintages, winemakers in Burgundy are refilling their cellars with an excellent 2022 harvest.This is not to say that it was an easy ride. Once again, frost, heat and drought put stress on the growing season, but timing is everything, and the extreme weather did much less damage than in previous years.
Winters have been wet and mild for years now. The winter of 2021-22 was not, with less than average rainfall and seasonal temperatures. Under these ‘normal’ conditions, we would expect budburst in the first half of April. But summer-like conditions at the end of March forced the vines, especially Chardonnay, to bud early, and we went into frost season with tender green buds exposed. There were two nights in the coming week below zero, but damage was limited.
Spring conditions set in in mid-April, but Summer followed soon thereafter, dry with spiky heat waves. The vines went wild. Winemakers fought to keep the growth under control. And the fight continued until flowering, which happened a couple of weeks early in mid-May.
The warm, dry conditions led to nearly-perfect flowering. We saw for the first time the potential of a great crop, with lots of beautiful, full, well-formed grape bunches; and an early harvest, with fruit setting well ahead of schedule.
But the drought held, and the fear was that this beautiful fruit would shrivel on the vine. Finally, at the end of June, the rain came. Summer storms bring with them the risk of hail, so all eyes were on the sky as the storms were sometimes violent causing significant but limited hail damage. The rains were intermittent, but regular for the next weeks. The cumulative rainfall would not be enough to see the crop through to harvest, however.
The heat waves continued through the rains, and so the risk of fungal disease, usually associated with wet conditions, dried up. But temperatures spiked and dry conditions set in again. The grapes ripened in a full-blown heat wave. Winemakers had to keep a close eye on sugar levels, as the risk was that ripeness could gallop away at the last minute.
And then, just about the time when it looked like an over-ripe mid-August harvest was imminent, it rained again. And the producers were able to let that water absorb into the fruit, increasing the volume of juice that was ultimately harvested in the first week of September.
2022, both white and red, are showing real depth and ripeness. And while there was once again very little malic acid, the tartaric acid holds the balance and structure together. Early tastings in the barrel show enormous charm and vitality. Very promising.
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