When I first started taking sommelier training classes, it was a really daunting task to remember the exact locations of all the wine producing regions in the world in addition to their sub-regions, climates and characteristics. In Burgundy for example just keeping straight where Côte de Beaune was in relation to Mâconnais or Côte de Nuits was a challenge. I find it amazing that there are Master Sommeliers and even rare wine connoisseurs that can identify wine not to just to the sub-region but individual villages and sometimes the parts of a particular vineyard just by taste and smell.
One particular vineyard that is noisome for this kind of micro analysis is the Clos de Vougeot in the Nuits-Saint-Georges (Côte d’Or) in Burgundy.
This area near the city of Dijon has been producing wine for well over a thousand years. The Cistercian monks created Burgundy’s largest wall-enclosed vineyard, the Clos de Vougeot, in 1336.
A recurring theme apparently is that this particular vineyard due to its terrain and composition produces a very wide variation of quality. Vineyards nearby produce some of the most expensive wine in the world and yet others in proximity produce very standard wines.
Benjamin Lewin, one of 300 Masters of Wine and publisher of five books on wine, relates that the monks, as far back as the middle ages knew all about the strong variation in quality driven from the terroir in the Clos de Vougeot. They supposedly used the wine from the bottom of the slope in the vineyard for communal use, the wine from the top for visiting bishops, and reserved the wine from the middle for princes and the pope.
Today, Clos de Vougeot is still divided into a hundred different parcels owned by more than eighty different wine makers.
Founded in 1985, Chauvenet-Chopin is one of the younger wine houses in the area but still produces a good variety of wines. In Nuits-Saint-Georges, they farm premier crus Aux Argillas, Les Chaignots, Les Mergers and Aux Thorey, as well as AOC Nuits-Saint-Georges from the northern part of the appellation. Additionally, they work a parcel in AOC Chambolle-Musigny, AOC Vougeot and grand cru Clos de Vougeot.
A strong recommendation recently resulted in our tasting the 2010 Chauvenet-Chopin Vougeot. The 2010 Côtes de Nuits vintage in general was very well rated and a wine dealer friend said they were drinking beautifully.
Chauvenet-Chopin ‘Vougeot’ though not the Grand Cru designation, is produced in the classical style. The wines are 100% Pinot Noir, and kept 14-16 months in 228L oak barrels with 40 % new oak.
Our bottle was showing a just a hint of orange in the color, but it was mostly a nice garnet and the taste did not seem to be affected.
The nose was the expected elegant mix of earthy, mushroom notes with notable violets and some cherry.
The taste was medium bodied with prominent black fruit – black cherry and plum, and the tannins were fairly mild. There finish was long and had a hint of wood.
In every way, it was a very nice example of an elegant Burgundy.
We happily paired the wine with a simple French salad and some Greek styled roasted lamb.
The Chauvenet-Chopin ‘Vougeot’ is just AOC Vougeot and has a price point of about $70. It is modest given its neighbors, but it certainly shares a relationship in style with its pricier cousins.
By Richard Arebalo
Features Editor OTL Golf