Gabin and Felix Richoux Irancy 'Veaupessiot' 2018
This is Pinot Noir in a style all its own, with delicate cherry fruit and brooding minerality. This single vineyard 'Veaupessiot' sits on a point over looking the river valley with perfect exposition. Gabin and Felix Richoux holds back their wines until they feel they have developed enough.
THIERRY RICHOUX IRANCY
On slopes above the Yonne river valley, 15 km from Chablis, a handful of winemakers are cultivating a reputation for red Burgundy at the northernmost limit of possibility. While Chablis, of course, is famous and white, Irancy has always been red and has always lived in the shadow of a bigger Burgundy. But Thierry Richoux, and his father Jean-Claude before him produce wines that will make you do a double take.
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 marvellous 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 vigneron 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 Chardonnay 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.
Irancy, in the Grand Auxerrois district of the department of Yonne, stands on the right bank of the Yonne some fifteen kilometers south of Auxerre and south-west of Chablis. It is typical of the wine-growing villages of the district, though one of the few to specialize in red wine only.. It was raised to the status of a village appellation, which it shares with the neighboring villages of Cravant and Vincelottes, in 1999.
On the label, the appellation Irancy may be followed by the name of a specific vineyard, known as a climat (named plot) from which the wine comes may appear immediately beneath the word Irancy in letters no larger than half the size.
The following climats are village wines from a single vineyard known as a lieu-dit:
Côte du Moutier
Irancy is a red wine made from Pinot Noir grapes. But winemakers may choose to include in its composition up to 10% of César, a traditional grape of this district. Rich in tannins, lively in color, César gives the wine more color and tannic structure than Pinot Noir alone. Cesar alone is dark crimson, whereas pure-Pinot Irancy tends to be a more delicate ruby. It is uncanny how this wine has aromas of the same cherry variety that is grown in the hills in and among the vines. Sometimes floral or peppery, Irancy at its best is marked by well-defined structure and good acid balance For all their finesse, these can be wines slow to open, as tannins melt into a velvety roundness.
The hill-slopes form a bowl surrounding the beginnings of a plateau below where the river Yonne cuts through. The slopes are for the most part composed of Kimmeridgian marls with an mixture of brown limestone soils. Here Pinot Noir flourishes at altitudes of 130-150 metres. Exposures vary, mostly southerly or south-westerly. Some climats have long been recognized as being of particularly interesting.
Reds only - Pinot Noir and César
The César grape, of which there are some 5 hectares in the Irancy appellation, is said to have been brought here by the Roman. It is a vigorous variety which produces largish bunches of black grapes. On its own it makes a deep colored wine with red-fruit aromas and fairly rustic tannins.
Production surface area
1 hectare (ha) = 2.4 acres
Irancy can be either solid or lacy (pretty much depending on the presence or absence of the Cesar grape), so matching them with food is a case-by-case decision. More tannic young Irancy would match grilled, even barbecued meats. While the more delicate versions are excellent with charcuterie: pâtés, terrines and saucisson. The cheese board could include almost any of the regional cheeses: Coulommiers, Brie de Meaux, Chaource, Langres, Époisses, Soumaintrain.