The town of Vougeot, situated in the center of the Côte de Nuits directly north of Vosne-Romanée and slightly southeast of Chambolle-Musigny, is mainly known for its Grand Cru vineyard Clos de Vougeot. This vineyard encompasses over 100 acres, and as such is the Côte de Nuits' largest Grand Cru. Corton in the Côte de Beaune is larger, but only by a few square miles.
The Vougeot village itself is only about a third of a square mile, so the majority of viable wine territory is within the walls of the Grand Cru. This makes Vougeot more like Bordeaux or the Rhône than other Burgundy; it becomes necessary to rely on the producer rather than a specifically designated location.
There are only 4 Premier Cru vineyards outside the Clos, and a few village-level vines. Much of the production is white; though often made within the Clos it is not allowed to be labeled as such. About 1,800 cases of the white are produced each year, and around 4,000 of the red, from the 40 acres used for wine production in the village.
Vougeot was made into an AOC in 1936, and the surprising decision was made to allow white wine. Since then, both declassified and village-grown white wine has acquired a good reputation.
Climate and Viticulture
Outside the Clos, the soil can be somewhat rocky and sandy, and there are few hillsides that give the vineyards good sun exposure. Still, the vineyards designated Premier Cru are entirely worth this status, and the somewhat odd soil seems to be very suitable for white wine growing. Spicy and exotic, the white wine is distinct from the richer Côte de Beaune styles and is probably the best white of the northern part of the Côte d'Or.
- Pinot Noir: The Vougeot wines that are outside the Clos are fairly similar to those from inside; masculine and powerful if a little bit ill-defined at first, but eventually they become rich and exotic, if only moderately complex. The best wines will then show flavors of smoky game, red and dark fruit, and somewhat exotic earthy notes. Initially they are concentrated and dense, but this turns to richness with the right aging process. For the best wines, the right time to drink them might be in 5 years, but 10 is certainly within the realm of possibility. Even the best of these wines will not cost more than $80, which is their main advantage, but the trick is to give the wine a good amount of cellar time.
- Chardonnay: Powerful, buttery and nutty, and sometimes even spicy, these exotically scented Chardonnays are some of the best grown in the Côte d'Or's northern end. Often costing $30 or less, although usually more in the neighborhood of $50, they can provide decent value as well as drinking pleasure. A rival is Musigny's Comte Georges de Voguë, which shares similarly unusual flavors, but that wine is much more expensive.
Five producers stand out in the manufacturing of both colors of wine. Read about them in the below subregions section.
- Domaine Bertrand Ambroise
- Domaine Bertagna
- Domaine Fourrier
- Domaine Hudelot Noellat
- Domaine de la Vougeraie
There are only four Premier Cru vineyards within Vougeot, which produce virtually all of its good reds and some good white cuvées.
- Clos de la Perrière: This is not labeled as a monopole, but there seem to be no wines here other than Bertagna's. This characterful, unusual wine shows flavors of austere earthy fruit backed up by bitter chocolate and minerals. A wine that would be hard to drink at first, but it has great aging potential.
- Les Cras: The top vineyard of Vougeot, this is used for many serious wines. Rich, gamy and smooth, the Domaine Bertrand Ambroise needs a few years but can boast of great flavor after being cellared. Domaine Bertagna's Les Cras has red berry fruit but some noticeable austerity at first, making it a must for three or four years as well. Domaine de la Vougeraie, though, produces the best wine here, with both red and dark fruit and herbs combined into a powerful but rich cuvée that should be aged.
- Les Petits Vougeots: This is also home to a couple of good cuvées. Domaine Fourrier's powerful, almost Vosne-like wine shows black fruit, spice and minerals in a tannic but intriguing style. Aging is mandatory; with vibrant red fruit in the early years, the Domaine Hudelot Noellat seems more approachable, but it makes up for its lack of tannins with a strong mineral backbone.
- La Vigne Blanche
Vougeot only has one Grand Cru, but its fame more than makes up for the lack of multiplicity here.
- Clos de Vougeot: This famous Grand Cru is the largest in the Côte de Nuits at 125 acres. Its detractors would have you believe that no remarkable wines are produced here, but despite their inconsistency the wines can be amazingly dark, rich and exotic in a way that is unique to this vineyard. If you select a good producer, you also may be able to get a good price due to the low perception of the vineyard.