Domaine Arnoux-Lachaux Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru 2009
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Barrel Sample: 91-93
Earlier in the year, the Bowler team tasted the 2014’s from barrel with Charles’s father, Pascal – who is still very much present in the winery. It was unanimously a highlight of our trip in 2016. We’ve always been impressed when tasting at Domaine Arnoux-Lachaux. After all, they have some of the most prized vineyards in Vosne-Romanee and equally high-quality vineyards in Nuits-Saint-Georges.
It's no doubt that Pascal Lachaux must have gone through the same pressure when he took over from his father-in-law, Robert Arnoux, in the early nineties. Pascal worked side-by-side with Robert for more than ten years. The changes that Pascal made in the nineties were a natural progression at the time: pruning for lower yields, working the soil, destemming grapes 100%, and using more new oak for aging. The reputation of Domaine Robert Arnoux soared with Pascal Lachaux at the reigns. In 2010, Remington Norman and Charles Taylor MW said, “This is one of the very best domaines of an exceptional village.”
Charles Lachaux gives an immense amount of credit to his father for the work that he has done over the last thirty years. He said that if he has elevated the wines to a new level today, it is thanks to the health of the vineyards and the organization of the winery when he started in 2012.
Containing the largest Grand Cru in all of the Côte d’Or, Vougeot, the village, takes its name from the small stream flowing through it, called Vouge. Over three quarters of the village retains Grand Cru status, and a single vineyard at that: Clos de Vougeot (or simply, Clos Vougeot). Its mass—over 50 ha—retains the single name chiefly for historic reasons.
But today, Clos de Vougeot contains over 80 owners and shows significant soil and slope variations within its boundaries. The top, bordering Musigny and Grands Echezeaux, is calcareous and gravelly on oolitic limestone and exhibits wonderful drainage. The middle sections are limestone, gravel and clay with less of a slope. The lower part has little slant and is mostly made of clay. Historically the diverse parcels were blended but today the abundance of owners means that everyone has his own style. Exploring and understanding them is part of the allure of Clos de Vougeot.
In general a fine Clos de Vougeot when young will be dense and dark but juicy, with a pronounced austerity, and needs a good ten years to bring it to its full potential.
Thin-skinned, finicky and temperamental, Pinot Noir is also one of the most rewarding grapes to grow and remains a labor of love for some of the greatest vignerons in Burgundy. Fairly adaptable but highly reflective of the environment in which it is grown, Pinot Noir prefers a cool climate and requires low yields to achieve high quality. Outside of France, outstanding examples come from in Oregon, California and throughout specific locations in wine-producing world. Somm Secret—André Tchelistcheff, California’s most influential post-Prohibition winemaker decidedly stayed away from the grape, claiming “God made Cabernet. The Devil made Pinot Noir.”