Friday, 13 May 2011 by Stephen Browett
With the Bordeaux en primeur campaign yet to get under way, we thought that we would make a quick trip to Burgundy this week to visit the exciting, and much talked about, new producer – Domaine d’Eugenie.
Burgundy lovers will know that Francois Pinault - the owner of Chateau Latour in Bordeaux (and now Chateau Grillet too) purchased the vineyards of Domaine Engel in the summer of 2006 and re-named the Estate after his Mother. It is managed by Frédéric Engerer, the President of Chateau Latour and local oenologist Michel Mallard. The vines cover a total of 6.5 hectares with holdings in Clos de Vougeot, Grands Echezeaux, Echezeaux, Vosne Romanée les Brulées and Vosne Romanée village.
After flying in to Dijon airport (situated conveniently just up the road from Gevrey Chambertin), we started our visit in the vines of Clos de Vougeot. This large, walled Grand Cru vineyard has many different owners but much of it is down on flat land near the main road. Eugenie’s 1.4 hectares are, however, superbly situated at the top of the slope and from here you could throw a cricket ball (if you had one) into Musigny and Grands Echezeaux. The vines here are 60 years old and consistently make one of the greatest wines of the appellation. Back in the car we drove through Grands Echezeaux and Echezeaux (it only takes about a minute) and up the hill to les Brulées which looks down over the village of Vosne Romanée. Narrowly avoiding an enormous hare which cantered across the road in front of us, we descended down into Vosne Romanée where the Domaine is situated in the former cellars of the “Clos Frantin” in the heart of the village. The vines adjoining the winery make up the Vosne Romanée Village “Le Clos d’Eugenie” which is separated from La Tache by just a stone wall and a narrow lane.
The beautiful old cellars are quite small but 6.5 hectares do not produce much wine! As is so often the case in Burgundy, we are amazed by how few barrels there are of the Domaine’s precious juice. We first of all tasted the 2009’s which have been bottled but are not yet labelled or capsuled.
We start with the “regular” Vosne Romanée which is made from 2 parcels of vines “les Communes” and “les Vigneaux” – situated just below Romanée Saint Vivant. In 2009 it has also benefitted from the addition of about half of the Domaine’s Les Brulées as M Engerer considered that grapes from the lower part of the vineyard should be vinified separately from those in the prime position at the top. This is brilliant quality for a village wine. A beautiful, pure and intense Pinot nose, impressive density and richness. There’s a case of this going in my cellar…..
The “Clos d’Eugenie” was up next. This half-hectare walled vineyard is farmed with biodynamic methods and is clearly of Premier Cru quality. Sadly there were only 2000 bottles produced. This has lovely spice and complexity with a long, lingering finish. Delicious.
We then tasted the Brulées which, as I mentioned, is now only produced from the best vines in the vineyard. Consequently a mere 5 barrels were made – so only 1500 bottles for the world. This is a very sexy wine with aromas of bacon fat and cracked black pepper. This is the “Côte Rôtie” of the Estate with a smoky, roasted character. Great intensity and very opulent.
Then it was on to the three Grand Crus. We started with Echezeaux (production in 2009 7 barrels, 6 of them new). This is a wine of great purity and intensity that is made from vines that are up to 80 years old. Complex, classy and lovely.
The Clos-Vougeot 2009 was made from 50% de-stemmed fruit and 50% whole bunches. There were 21 barrels, 18 of which were new. This is a sensational wine. Really powerful with rich, ripe fruit and ripe tannins. There are a myriad of flavours here and this is undoubtedly a great Grand Cru wine that matches anything produced in Burgundy today.
We finish with the velvety, seductive Grands Echezeaux which is like a summer pudding of ripe red fruit. What a fabulous flight of red Burgundy!
This was a great and inspiring tasting and we leave feeling extremely happy to have an allocation of these great Pinot Noirs. But this is tinged with dread – how on earth are we going to allocate our miniscule stocks when we release the wines for sale? It’s clear, Domaine d’Eugenie has already propelled itself into the highest league of Burgundy Growers in just 4 vintages…. This producer may not have an established reputation like Rousseau or Meo-Camuzet yet but the wines are right up there!