Bonjour du paradoxe fragile qui inspire quoi célébrer aussi que pleurer,
Roughly a year ago, I introduced the profoundly under heralded Vosne Romanée wines of Fabrice and Christine Vigot to the USA. The response was nothing short of an unending, thunderous success as both the initial response and refill requests continued until my stocks were completely gobbled up; the proof is always in the pudding, and their 2014s are simply stunning examples of moderation, succulence, site specific character, and harmony. Many people were turned away disappointed, looking to heartily replenish after an initial introduction to these diligent and loving hands responsible for roughly 1/3 of the Mugneret Gibourg production for generations…..
As you can read in my original offering of the wines below, whilst I trumpeted the virtues of their production, I presciently commented on the bittersweet, fragile balance and perpetual risk facing the Vigots. Thus when Fabrice, Christine, their son and I sat at the dinner table in November to taste through their 2015s, I could feel the heaviness that Christine was gently preparing me to hear whilst Fabrice continued to rummage the final cask samples. She told me that Fabrice and she had been forced to make a heart wrenching decision: after 50 years of metayage (farm it all, give half, keep half) with the Gibourg Sisters, they chose to relinquish such a role following the 2016 harvest. Too many consecutive years of minuscule, crazy labor intensive vintages proved not only to be fiscally impossible, but also unhealthily stressful in every imaginable aspect, physical, mental, and morale of the spirit. As Christine told me this, open hearted and unguarded, I could feel her tremendous sadness pushing to the surface, making her tremble and stammer a bit. I simply shared in her pain, both of us beginning to weep. It was a harrowing sense of loss, like losing a loved one in tragic and regrettable fashion…..
Wiping our eyes and clearing our throats, we tried to regain composure in order to push on, to taste their tremendous 2015s that had tasted craaaazy good out of barrel a year ago. Indeed, from the very first sample, the succulent density and pleasure quotient gave us a well needed change of tone, the palpable resonance of such beauty inspiring a contrary emotional response of awe and of joy. As we proceeded through the lineup, the solar, ripe nature of the vintage was undeniably present, with both come-hither, black fruited sense of succulent sex appeal, as well as the parcellary specificity of each site remaining in place. If I had to characterize the ’15s in a global sense, I would call them pleasure bombs, all weighing in around 13.5% natural alcohol, chock full of tell tale Vosne Romanée violet florals and spice. I have little doubt that they will please just about anyone who likes red wine.
Turning to matters financial, I couldn’t help but encourage the Vigots to raise their prices. They deserve it, without an iota of a doubt. Things are so tight that their son is taking e-classes, unable to afford tuition to be on-site. I find such hardship to be ethically troubling: they deserve better. In a Côte d’Or landscape rife with luxurious wealth, that the Vigots can be hanging on by a thread is not something that most Burgundy lovers could imagine, especially in Vosne Romanée, one of the holiest terroirs in the world. Helas, c’est la vie…..
Much to my delight, Christine has made available both a handsome refill parcel of the dare-I-say more classical 2014s (including a nice chunk of the Sisters’ famous Bourgogne rouge wine, les Lutenières!), as well as their tremendous pleasure bomb 2015s (including both a new parcellary Vosne Romanée villages le Pré de la Folie AND their Echezeaux Grand cru les Rouges du Desssus that informs half of the Sisters’ Echezeaux). Prices are roughly 20% higher for the 2015s, an understandable increase in light of all that the Vigots are facing, with a quantitatively abysmal 2016 crop to follow. I cannot posit it any clearer: these are wines to load up on by the caseload where possible, as such under-the-radar quality is a rare and fleeting opportunity in an ever more expensive and in demand Burgundian market. I have included my thoughts on the 2015s, as well as the original offer of the 2014s, all at crazy fair pricing to help everyone in this circle: the Vigots, you the wine lover, and my wife and I. And so…….
ORIGINAL 2014 OFFERING FROM DECEMBER 2015:
Bonjour des mains les plus célébrées et inconnues à la fois de toute la Bourgogne,
The fast-approaching legendary status of the Mugneret Gibourg sisters and their swoon worthy, succulent style of Vosne Romanée has an unending queue of gaga wine lovers ready to throw seemingly limitless amounts of money to catch just a glimpse of the beauty that regularly emerges from their cellars. However, in learning more about their estate’s history over the years, I was amazed to discover that there is so very little awareness of where in fact their wines come from. Yes Burgundy geeks can tell you all about the Sisters’ holdings, which parcels they come from etc, however WHO in fact does this work has surprisingly remained off of the consumer radar. Their vineyards are tended by three different entities: the original estate, including all of their Vosne Romanée, Bourgogne, Nuits St Georges villages, and Echezeaux, have been and continue to be farmed via a metayage agreement (the hired hand keeps one half of the crop, gives one half to the Sisters) by two different Vosne based growers: Gerard Mugneret and Fabrice Vigot; the Clos de Vougeot, Nuits St Georges 1er crus, Chambolle Fuesselottes, and Gevrey Chambertin portions which were purchased by their father to increase the size of the estate are today farmed by a young man in his 30s named Florent, an employée who cares for these vines year round, in addition to sundry cellar duties.
As I work with Domaine Gerard Mugneret, I already know just how good young Pascal Mugneret’s wines and farming practices are, and how that translates to the increasingly impressive wines for the Sisters. However, being the detail freak/geek that I am, I was amazed that I had never heard ANYTHING about the Vigot side of things. I had always noticed their small house/winery, as it is hard to miss as you pass through Vosne with large red lettering on its side as you enter town from the south. When I asked around town, it seems that the Vigots keep to themselves for the most part, gardeners both content and fully absorbed in tending their garden, without much socializing nor hobnobbing to speak of. Curious and direct as I am, I called them last year while in Burgundy and managed to squeeze in a brief encounter early one morning. Fabrice and his wife Christine met with me, and the ice-breaking first encounter was both measured and productive. I could sense immediately their genuineness and humility, as well as their reticence, slowly getting a feel for this young hairy American dude. We tasted a few 2012/2013 wines, 2 or 3, that happened to be open, and while surprisingly good, it was not exactly the in depth tasting that is required to really get to know a producer’s work. We made a tentative appointment for later in the week to taste more broadly which unfortunately was cancelled a few days later by Fabrice due to time conflicts. However, a seed of familiarity was planted, to be continued……
Thus when planning my annual visits for November of 2015, I made it a priority to be able to spend a full morning with Fabrice and Christine, certain that the glimpses of promise that I had sensed merited further exploration. Fabrice and I hopped right to it, first tasting the entire lineup of 2015 wines in barrel. SWEET GOD are they good, even at this embryonic phase showing such succulent fullness and intensity, with remarkable class, pleasure, and harmony already plainly evident. We then sat down in their tasting room to try all of the 2014s, with Christine joining us. The Vigots are parcellary specialists in villages level wine, featuring an awesome array of Vosne Romanée villages from 4 different lieu dits, each quite different from one another, as well as a terrific old vines Nuits St Georges villages and Gevrey Chambertin villages. In every single wine, the purity and clarity were outstanding, each terroir clearly delineated with a distinct identity; the ’14s offer both a sappy gourmandise with a poised elegance that is a pure pleasure to taste. Quite honestly, the wines far exceeded my expectations, particularly in the even strength across the range; every wine was a delicious success in its own right. As we tasted, our exchange only continued to warm in affection, as I could feel all of us relax a bit more, birds of a feather recognizing one another’s likeness. The jokes were flowing, sincerity revealing itself, as Fabrice and I took off to head to the vineyards on a stunningly beautiful sunny morning…..
As we moved about the vineyards, Fabrice laid some of his life story’s groundwork for me: it was in 1966 that his father was hired by Dr Gibourg to tend his Bourgogne les Lutenières (yes, the oh-so-famous Bourgogne wine of the Sisters has forever been split with Vigot), Nuits St Georges villages Bas de Combe, Echezeaux in les Rouges du Bas, and Vosne Romanée villages parcels in la Colombière, les Chalandins, les Croix Blanches, and le Pre de la Folie. To this day, Fabrice carries on the legacy of this relationship. When Fabrice was but a teenager, he met this cute young lady from Gevrey Chambertin, the 17 year old daughter of Martin Noblet, and they fell in love. They have been together ever since, high school sweethearts building a life of love together both with their work as vignerons as well as their two children, daughter age 9 and son in his early 20s. Christine’s family initially didn’t approve, as Fabrice did not have prestigious land to speak of. He admits that he has always had a chip on his shoulder, a desire to prove those who looked down upon him wrong, that he can and will make great wine. A farmer of modest means in a town of old money, he nonetheless succeeded in creating an estate in 1990 based on the 4 hectares of land he inherited from his mother’s side of the family (NSG and Vosne villages, including the outstanding upper slope lieu dit les Damaudes pictured above), then adding a smidge of Nuits St Georges and Bourgogne level wine in 1993. A more recent addition to their holdings came in 2000 from Christine’s side of the family: some terrific village level Gevrey Chambertin from les Etelois, les Presonniers, les Billards, and a particularly wonderfully stony lieu dit les Crais.
As we walked the vineyards, the organic approach which they began to adopt in 2010 and implemented fully for both the 2014 and 2015 vintages was obvious, as the vibrant plant life and well plowed soils contrasted night/day versus the sterile and compact chemically treated soils/plants of their neighbors. It is clear to me that Fabrice has a farmer first mentality, recognizing that everything comes from the vineyard’s health and care. His increasing commitment to biodynamics continues to teach him things, even after all of these years so intimately entwined with the vine. I’m convinced that this will only further the quality of both his wines AND the Sister’s wines….As an aside, Pascal Marchand and team are friendly with Vigot, lending him equipment for biodynamic treatments that would otherwise be fiscally out of reach for Fabrice. I love that such camaraderie and benevolence exists among some growers, helping one another out of common purpose and values that transcend the almighty $$$ (or Euro in this case)…..
By this time, our mutual appreciation is in rare form, all sorts of off-color colors safe to share and laugh about. :0 We decide to go to lunch together in Vosne, joined by their daughter on her midday break from school. As we toast to one another’s health and happiness, I can’t help but feel at once a certain joyful excitement and bittersweet dismay. I am thrilled at the timing of our partnership, as based on my impressions both in barrel and bottle from ’14 and ’15, these are stunningly good wines of honesty, purity, clarity, and substance that will allow wine lovers to enjoy some of the parcellary diversity of Vosne Romanée and beyond at more than reasonable prices. I am far from the only person who recognizes this, as their fiercely loyal private clients have known for years how good and true their wines are, not to mention the French/German press that routinely touts their overachiever status (la Guide Hachette, Gault/Millau, Bettane + Desseauve, and Bourgogne Aujourd’hui to name a few). Recently, longtime Burgundy critic/buyer, England’s Jasper Morris, added the Vigots to the Berry Bros & Rudd portfolio as one of their top new “discoveries”. All of these signs of the Vigot’s rising tide are cause for celebration, validation for their many years of hard work in relative obscurity. What I find unsetttling, however, is that even after 25 years of giving one’s all, they are still perpetually on the brink, living harvest by harvest with each year’s fiscal needs a new jigsaw to solve. Whilst the myth of the Gibourg sisters increasingly pushes into a rarefied economic stratosphere (due to speculation moreso than their own ex-cellars pricing), hardly anyone has any idea that Fabrice and Christine have been the hands tending the garden for over 25 years. Thus, my goal is to bring them greater recognition and appreciation in my own little way, finally bringing their wines to an American audience with an integrity, stability, and regularity that is far too long overdue……
What follows is a not quite complete offering of their 2014 production (no Croix Blanches or Echezeaux this year…), replete with some details/impressions of each cuvée. As you will see for yourself once the wines are on your table, their authenticity is unmistakable, delivering the real deal in substance without prestige inflated artifice. Good and loving people, making increasingly good and loved wines…….
(here endeth the original 2014 offering text…the MENU is for both the 2014 refill and the 2015 wines)
2014s are in stock, and these are the last of it, no more at the winery: Folks, I don’t know what more I can say here. I think that these 2014s are craaaazy craaaazy good wines, pure class in their sense of balance, complexity, and pure pleasure. Don’t wear vintage blinders here, hopping straight to generic 2015 hype. Buy A LOT of these 2014s (those of you who have tasted these know EXACTLY what I am talking about), and thank me and the Vigots later…..
Bourgogne les Lutenières – Split 50/50 with the Gibourg sisters (informing 100% of their legendary Bourgogne rouge), the single vineyard Bourgogne les Lutenières is at the southern tip of Vosne Romanée, on the eastern side of the route nationale. From fairly old vines (one quarter of which was torn out after the 2015 harvest due to painfully low yields/lack of productivity), and moderate yields of 37hl/ha in 2014. This parcel is both quite rich in soil and large chunks of limestone. A silky, deeply violet floral wine with uncommon length and complexity for a Bourgogne level wine. Simply delicious.
Nuits St Georges villages – From three parcels, totalling roughly .6 hectares: les Herbeux, les Tuyeaux, and (from the Gibourg sisters) les Bas de Combe. Lovely floral intensity and purity aromatically leads to equally pure floral and red fruited flavors in the mouth, with a lightly chewy tannic texture and kiss of savory earth. In short, a lovely example of northern Nuits St Georges villages that bears more than a passing resemblance to its northern neighbor (Vosne). Good harmonious length on the finish, with a light mineral streak. For what it is worth, the Sisters’ Bas de Combe comprises 2/7 of this cuvée (read roughly 175 cases made).
Gevrey Chambertin villages – All from the Noblet family holdings, this is roughly a blend of 20% les Etelois, 50% les Crais, 20% les Presonniers, and 10% les Billards. 20% new oak. My first word: “Super!”. Once again, great purity and clarity, with a finer texture than the NSG, and a classic savory/meaty Gevrey profile. The mineral drive on the back end is fantastic. Fabrice thinks that the les Crais parcel may merit a separate parcellary bottling in the near future, as its pronounced minerality is quite noble and fine.
Vosne Romanée villages la Colombière – From the center of Vosne Romanée, la Colombière contains (along with the Echeazeaux) the oldest vines of the Gibourg estate, nearly 80 years old. On the stylistic spectrum of their 3 lower lying Vosne Romanée parcels, with the southern Croix Blanches being the airiest and most taut and the northern Chalandins being the richest and densest, this sits in the middle both physically and stylistically. This is wonderfully spicy and elegant, all about harmony. For an intro to Vosne Romanée, as good as I could hope for. This one got a little *. THIS IS TREMENDOUS. BUY ALL THAT YOU CAN JUSTIFY.
Vosne Romanée villages les Chalandins – From the northernmost Flagey-Echeazeaux bordering parcel of the Gibourg estate in addition to a parcel of his own, this is from deeper soils that present an altogether different floral register. It is texturally richer with denser fruit, spicy sex appeal and then some. Wow. This one got a little *. THIS IS TREMENDOUS. BUY ALL THAT YOU CAN JUSTIFY.
Vosne Romanée villages les Damaudes – From a .15 hectare parcel on the steeper upper slope shelf above the 1er crus les Malconsorts and les Gaudichots, this is a hidden gem, just two barrels made. Walking the vineyard (pictured above) it is evident that something is clearly undervalued in the hierarchy, as its placement is fantastic. Terribly fine higher toned aromatics hint at the character to follow. In the mouth, this is both sexy and energetic, with the strongest backend mineral drive of any of the wines here. My kind of upper slope delight. Little * here…. THIS IS TREMENDOUS. BUY ALL THAT YOU CAN JUSTIFY.
I have some 2015 wines in stock, with refills to arrive stateside mid November ’17: The pleasure bomb quotient here is undeniable, as there is a marked step up in concentration and black fruited spiciness in these 2015s vs the 2014s. I’ve done my best to keep pricing as affordable as possible. These 2015s and next year’s 2016s will be the final wines from the Mugneret Gibourg holdings, after which point the Sisters will farm the parcels themselves, increasing the surface area of their estate somewhat dramatically. Again, go deep and thank me later……
Bourgogne rouge les Lutenières – Once again, this is the sole source for the Gibourg Sisters’ legendary Bourgogne rouge, half for the Sisters, half for the Vigots. True to the vintage, this has a black fruited succulent density and spice that is yum yum with a side of yum. I wish I got more…..
Nuits Saint Georges Vieilles Vignes – The Nuits Saint Georges (which contains the entirety of the Sisters’ lone Nuits Saint Georges villages parcel in the Bas de Combe) is notably finer and more complex than the Bourgogne, with a healthy smattering of all of the NSG food groups, in black fruited spice, a kiss of savory earth, and light gripping tannin. What is there not to love?
Gevrey Chambertin Vieilles Vignes – The Gevrey continues the pleasure bomb parade, with a more floral and mineral sensibility along with the black fruited spice and succulent density. This is plain terrific.
Vosne Romanée villages le Pré de la Folie – This is the first time that I am able to offer the Vosne Romanée villages le Pré de la Folie, entirely from vines that belong to the Gibourg Sisters. Named “the Field of Craziness” due to its depressed, freeze prone location in front of the Sisters winery, the ancients thought that one had to be crazy to plant here…..indeed, these are from young vines that were replanted several years ago after being frozen and killed by a deep freeze. Immediately, the pedigree of Vosne Romanée in her regal violet florals and aromatic spiciness is here in spades, then with a noteworthy sense of purity and succulence in the mouth. As an intro to Vosne Romanée, this could be an “exhibit A”.
Vosne Romanée villages Colombière – The Colombière takes the prize for overall harmony and crowd pleasing complete pleasure, both in 2014 and 2015. Even deeper florals and spice than the Pré de la Folie, all delivered with a sense of power and finesse that is swoon worthy. A little * star in my notes here…..
Vosne Romanée villages les Chalandins – The Chalandins is a bit more powerful and denser than the Colombière (as its deeper soils would logically afford), similarly one that will put a smile on any red wine lovers face. This is a pleasure bomb and then some. Again, a little * star in my notes for this one.
Vosne Romanée villages les Damaudes – The class of the range to my upper slope, tension loving, mineral sensibilities, this is a 1er cru in all but name. Tremendous tremendous complexity and dynamic sense of fruit/floral/mineral tension. Get all that you can. A little * awarded here, with expletives and !!! to boot.
Echezeaux Grand cru les Rouges du Dessus – For the first time, I am able to offer the Echezeaux, from the better of the Sisters’ two sources, this one from the upper slope Rouges du Dessus, one of the original designated Echezeaux parcels before being expanded dramatically many years later. Completely embryonic at this early phase, this was packed and stacked, all elements present and in impressive proportion between fruit purity/density, deep mineral coil, and long echoing purity and length.
Please never forget all of the love and sacrifice that goes into the Vigot’s labor as you enjoy these wines. If you feel so moved, as so many of you have already, faithfully and loyally support them, as a stable livelihood is the least that such tremendous beauty should afford for their soulful hard work and passion. I only hope that Nature will bless them with a few bumper crops in the years to follow, as lord knows they have endured some crazy challenges over the past 7 years…..If you haven’t tried these wines yet, ask anyone who has, or just dive in. Undoubtedly, you too will see exactly what I am talking about…….
As always, with any questions/interests: firstname.lastname@example.org
CHEERS TO FABRICE, CHRISTINE AND FAMILY!!! LONG LIVE THE VIGOT VIGNERONS DE VOSNE!!!