Capitain Gagnerot Clos Vougeot Grand Cru 2015
Corton is the only Grand Cru red in the Cote de Beaune. But it covers a lot of the Corton hillside, and hence there are many different faces to Corton. With mid-slope position and due east exposure, this Corton Grandes Lolieres Grand Cru is the last Corton vineyard before Ladoix, and sits just outside the Capitain's back door. The vines date from 1950, and give wines that are solidly framed with a potential for long aging. Rich, balanced, powerful and elegant, these are all traits you expect in a well-made grand cru.. Curiously, the Corton Grandes Lolieres is contiguous to both the Capitain Ladoix 1er Cru ‘Bois Roussot’ and their Aloxe-Corton 1er Cru ‘Les Moutottes. So here is a chance to taste 3 appellations from the same producer from vineyards that share a common border! Burgundy can be beautiful that way.
Anybody who has followed us since our start in early 1996 knows the Maison Capitain-Gagnerot in Ladoix-Serrigny. We have seen three generation now. Roger Capitain was our first mentor in Burgundy, and we learned our craft leaning against a wine barrel, soaking up his wisdom and discussing his inimitable wines. His sons Patrice and Michel, and now Patrice's son Pierre Francois (the whole family, really), carry on a tradition that is most easily described as a style. There is no mistaking a Capitain wine. Once you know it, you can pick one out just in the bouquet. It's a purity. And it's our benchmark in Burgundy.
BURGUNDY 2015 VINTAGE
We have resisted writing the Elden Selections Burgundy 2015 harvest report until now (April 2017), mainly to let the hub-bub and hyperbole settle down, but more importantly to be sure that the claims we are about to make are justified. We’ve seen too many vintages vaunted as ‘the year of the century’, when really the wines simply showed well young. Burgundy 2015 is a truly extraordinary vintage. The reds are rich, ripe, balanced and powerful. And from all over the region they express chiseled, focused terroir. Despite their youthful seductive charm, these are wines to keep, with serious ripe tannins already melted into explosive fruit.
Comparisons have been drawn with the 2005 vintage, though there is more concentration in the 2015s than in the 2005s. Like a caterpillar changing to a butterfly, great vintages often go to sleep in the bottle. And 2005 is just reawakening from several ‘dumb’ years. It’s been worth the wait. The wines have metamorphosed. 2015 might be similar. And if the comparison is apt, investors in 2015 should appreciate the youthful beauty of this great vintage now, but be prepared to be patient.
That said, 2005 was no ‘year of the century’. But 2015 is also being compared to 1990, which arguably was. And I hear that Michel Lafarge, one of Burgundy’s respected elders, says he remembers drinking 1929s, and he draws parallels. The whites are a bit more uneven, and early reports claimed that the vintage lacks acidity. Certainly, these are wines which are riper and more luxuriant than the exquisite purity of 2014 white Burgundy. But there is no risk that well-made wines will be overly ample or flabby. The best wines will have benefited from the barrel. Comparisons are drawn to 1985, one of the great vintages in white.
The heterogeneity in 2015 white Burgundy is due to the tricky growing season, which was mostly hot and dry, but which cooled significantly in September. Was it better to pick early or late? And did the wine deserve more or less barrel aging? These are questions which will be answered producer-by-producer, bottle-by-bottle over the coming years. But what is clear is that they 2015s are concentrated, fresh and structured.
We believe that to understand a vintage, it is important to look at the weather. Because Burgundy is a single-grape wine, the only thing that changes from year to year in a producer’s vineyard is the weather. So we look for patterns and try to analyze what makes a good year, a bad year…and in this case, an excellent year.
The winter of 2014-2015 was uneventful. It was never really cold, but when it was, it was dry. Mostly it was mild, so we had more rain than snow. We would need the replenished water reserves in the long hot summer ahead.
April was warm and dry, and bud-burst took place early. Mornings in May were sunny, afternoons cloudy, and overall cool and dry. The vines began to flower in the last week of the month, so we knew we were looking at a harvest in early to mid-September.
In early July, the mood started to mount towards hopeful. The weather had been steady, dry and cool. But slowly during the month, temperatures began to rise, and in the last week of July hit 30C. The flowering had been successful, so there was a good crop on the vines.
Day after day of warm dry conditions brought drought considerations into play. But no hail for once! August continued in this way. Hot and dry. A little welcome rain later in the month, but just enough to keep the stress levels down. But no storms or hail. And extremely healthy fruit on the vine. No rot, no mildew, no odium. The mood was optimistic, even euphoric.
Harvest ostensibly started the first Monday of September. And days later the weather broke, and a cool period set in for ideal harvest conditions, stabilizing acidity levels. It stayed this way until September 12th when the first serious rain in two months fell in the southern part of the region. Harvest was disrupted for a few days, but the 19th, it was pretty much all over.
COTE DE NUITS
Say ‘Vougeot’ and everyone immediately thinks ‘Clos de Vougeot, Vougeot’s most famous vineyard. But this little village of the Côte de Nuits has other fine vineyards as well. The name itself derives from that of the little river Vouge which runs through. The abbey of Cîteaux established these vineyards in the 12th century and, through centuries of free labor, laid the foundations of their reputation and an over-all understanding of the diversity of the Burgundian terroir. One of Vougeot’s particularities is that, unusually for the Côte de Nuits, there is a relatively important production of white wines from Chardonnay.
Produced in the commune of Vougeot, the appellation Vougeot includes 4 premiers crus. The commune of Vougeot also produces a grand cru appellation, Clos de Vougeot
Red Vougeot has much in common with its illustrious neighbors, Clos de Vougeot, Musigny, and Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Les Amoureuses). Its color should be crimson and purple in youth, deep and luminous. It develops youthful aromas of violets, black cherry and blackcurrant. When older, it goes to underbrush and truffle over animal notes. The attack is pretty straightforward, and should show acidity and tannin balanced with alcohol.
White Vougeot is often limpid white gold. The initial bouquet is often floral, acacia, often with hints of exotic fruits. A touch of minerality is often a surprise. In the older wines, aromas range from spice cake to fleshy fruits like quince and fig. There is that underlying richness which often found in these rare Côte de Nuits Chardonnays.
The vines grow at altitudes between 240 and 280 meters. Those on the upper slopes occupy shallow brown limestone soils. The soils on the lower slopes are limestone, fine-textured marl, and clay. These plots lie very close to the northern part of the Clos de Vougeot, and in some spots are separated only by the wall.
Red wines - Pinot Noir
White wines - Chardonnay
Production surface area
1 hectare (ha) = 2.4 acres
Reds: 12.00 ha (including 9.45 ha premier cru)
Whites : 3.87 ha (including 3.04 ha premier cru)
Reds tend to be sturdy, but not without a certain delicacy that comes across as length and finish. For this reason, it pairs well with dishes equally intense in flavor. Meat dishes are best roasted or braised, tender and melting. Roast fowl, roast lamb, or game birds. Game, braised or stewed, will prove a worthy partner. As for cheeses, medium flavored, soft-centered cheeses like Reblochon or Vacherin will make a good match.
The richness and delicacy of Vougeot whites make them a match for crustaceans such as lobster or crawfish, fish (either baked or in cream sauce), good quality poultry, and sweetbreads.
On the label, the names Vougeot and Vougeot 1er Cru may be followed by the name of a specific vineyard, called a climat.
The following climats are classified as premier cru:
Clos de la Perrière
Le Clos Blanc
Les Petits Vougeots
The following climat is a village wine from a single vineyard, known as a lieu-dit: