Frederic Esmonin Clos Vougeot 2002
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Domaine Frédéric Esmonin, from Burgundy's Gevrey-Chambertain appellation, is a true family collaboration that consists of Frederic, his father, André, and his mother, Michele. They have been farming their 10-acres of family vineyards for generations and selling their fruit to the likes of Drouhin, Jadot, and Leroy. In 1988 they began to commercialize their own labels today they are producing consistently high-quality, beautiful wines that represent a great value considering their pedigree.
Access to some of the best vineyard plots in the region is Esmonin’s greatest fortunes. Today they have Grand Cru parcels and Premier Cru parcel in some of the regions top vineyard sites. And since the best Burgundy wines start with the best grapes, Esmonin uses their decades of farming experience to optimize these plots. But farming is only part of what they do well. Esmonin also employs winemaking techniques that are gentle to the grapes and produce the finest possible quality level. Using a new bladder-press, Esmonin has excellent control over the amount of pressure exerted on the grapes, which are picked only when they have reached ideal ripeness. After a short cold maceration gives the wines an extra dimension of fruit, they are aged in carefully selected French oak barrels of Allier and Nevers forest wood made by Radoux and Berthomieu, two of the very best coopers. Wines are aged in barrels of varying age and toast and then blended in order to achieve optimum balance and complexity. The Domaine ages its wines in wooden casks for between 14 to 17 months. Typically, the grand cru and Lavaut Saint-Jacques Premier Cru wines see 80 percent new oak, whereas the village-level wines are aged in 20 percent new oak.
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.”