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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Clos De Vougeot

One of the worlds most storied and famously picked apart vineyards is Burgundy's largest grand cru the Clos de Vougeot. Named after the River Vouge, a stream separating Vougeot from Chambolle-Musigny, "le Vougeot" reflects both the history and present day of Burgundy, in all it's facets. In the year 1110 A.D. the Cistercians received a parcel of land near the village of Vougeot and created this cru as the first of their many wine growing accomplishments. Year after year they added parcel by parcel and eventually set up a cellar in the center of the vineyard, and around 1330 A.D. they built the famed wall of stones around the property.

As Burgundy's first experimental vineyard, the monks studied every aspect of viticulture including the microclimate, growth conditions, varieties of Pinot, and soil types. These early wine pioneers truly helped to define the concept of terroir, and there is even a legend that says that the monks quite literally tasted the soil to learn as much as they could about the unique differences.

The 125 acres vineyard is unique in it's soil variety. Every few yards the ground and soils change dramatically and the differences therein are what come to define where the best wines are produced. In the upper section, particularly where the Chateau resides, the soil is scant and rich in limestone providing a well drained and superior growing area for the Pinot Noir. Lower down, alongside the main highway, the soil is loamy and heavy and is more susceptible to waterlogging.

Today there are an average of 80 owners that share the vineyard's parcels of land. Following the Napoleonic code, throughout the centuries the vineyard has be divided up between children and relatives and some owners can own as little as one row of vines. Because of this, negociants play an important role in producing wines from the grapes of several owners and each year roughly 40 wines come onto the market with "Clos de Vougeot" on their label.

Though the quality of each Vougeot bottling varies quite dramatically, a good one has a special structure and density and it's own unique expression of the Pinot Noir variety. What makes the wine of le Vougeot special isn't so much the distinct tipicity of the terroir, but more the fact that the wine represents the entire image of quality at an exceptional level. This also explains why the vineyard continues to garner such respect and demand even after nine hundred years after it's foundation.

 
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