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Clos de Vougeot


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Clos de Vougeot, sometimes also called Clos Vougeot, is the most unusual and distinctive vineyard of the Côte de Nuits. Although plenty of great wine is produced here, the immense size of the appellation makes quality remarkably inconsistent. Literally thousands of different wines are available from the Clos, many of them not worthy of the Grand Cru title, but this has the benefit of bringing down prices for those that are.

The gigantic flat vineyard stretches over about 125 acres, less than Corton's whopping 230 but besides that the largest in Burgundy. The number of owners continues to grow, having risen over 80 in the previous decade, which makes it a requirement to choose carefully. The best wines are rich and exotic given the right amount of age, with truly Burgundian depth and proportion.

It is estimated that around 7,000 cases of wine are produced each year by these owners, while reds that don't make the cut, and whites, are declassified into Premier Cru cuvées. The vineyard itself is a real clos, enclosed on all four sides by large walls, and for its history and unique wines, it is actually a major tourist attraction. Love it or hate it, the clos holds a special place in Burgundian wine culture.

History

Clos de Vougeot's long history is part of what makes it interesting. The Cîteaux Abbey, which played a part in the development of so many Burgundy vineyards, at one point owned the Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru. The monks came into possession of the vineyard in the 1100s, and over the next few centuries built it up to have a major reputation in the Côte de Nuits. During the Middle Ages it was considered better than many of Vosne's Grands Crus, and by some estimates second only to Romanée-Conti.

After the French Revolution, the vineyard was confiscated and sold. The purchasers would eventually split the vineyard and sell it to a handful of buyers, and only then, in the 1800s, did Clos de Vougeot lose its status as a monopole. All the land in the Clos was named Grand Cru in 1937, but by this time the vineyard was being divvied up further. By the 21st century, over 80 owners owned property in the vineyard, some of them making completely unworthy wines. Despite this, the great cuvées produced here show that the clos' land is still just as viable as it was 500 years ago.

Climate and Viticulture

Most of the clos is flat, with soil composed of mostly limestone and clay. The more sloped parts of the vineyard often have deeper soil, which is usually mostly limestone interspersed with small bits of clay, the opposite of neighboring Vosne-Romanée, which is mostly clay with some limestone. These parts of the vineyard almost always make for the most characterful wines, and those from higher up on the slope are easily capable of rivaling even the best Vosnes and Gevreys.

Grape Varieties

Major Producers

Current estimates of the number of owners show that the vineyard is now subdivided among around 84 domaines, many of which are unreliable. This has led to a "guilt by association" that has driven the prices of even great wines to low levels (at least by Burgundy standards.)

Here is a list, with descriptions, of 13 great Clos producers.

Subregions

There are no less than 18 lieux-dits within the Clos de Vougeot, which is unsurprising due to the wide variance of quality here and the large size of the vineyard. Some of the most common are the confusing Musigny, also spelled Musigni, and Les Grands Maupertuis, but unlike Corton, the subregions here are usually not mentioned on the label. Attempts to organize this vineyard by region have largely failed, and only reputation now governs price and sales numbers for these wines.