Tasting the Cote Challonaise: The wines of A&P de Villaine

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Most serious wine drinkers (especially Burgundy lovers like myself) will know of Domaine Romanee Conti, or DRC. Domaine Romanee Conti makes some of the most sought after and greatest wines in the world (and hence some of the most expensive). This is because of a combination of history and great terroir: DRC owns vines in 6 of the Grand Cru vineyards in Vosnee-Romanee, including monopoles in the vineyards of Romanee Conti and La Tache. I’ve joked that if I ever get married, I don’t want an engagement ring, I want a bottle of 1993 La Tache.

The manager of this storied estate is one Aubert de Villaine. Besides running one of the best wineries in the world and sponsoring Burgundy’s vineyards recently successful bid for UNESCO World Heritage status, he also makes wines near his home in Bouzeron in the Cote Challonaise, a bit to the south of the historic center of Burgundy. These wines are released under the name of A&P de Villaine. In addition to Pinot Noir & Chardonnay, they also make an Aligote, one of the oft-forgotten ‘other’ white grapes of Burgundy. Recently I attended a tasting of some of their new releases (2013). Given that I don’t get enough opportunities to drink Burgundy, since I visited over the summer, I had to stop by. Below are my notes, although, full disclosure, they definitely got less specific as time went on. And I still feel that nobody make Chardonnay quite like the Burgundians.

Chardonnay:

  • A&P de Villaine “Les Close Aime” 2013 (12.5%): Pale yellow in the glass. Smells like pear & citrus with fresh flowers. Dry with faint taste of citrus & cream. Relatively full feel for a white, but also delicate.
  • A&P de Villaine Rully Blanc Le Saint Jaques (12.5%): very pale yellow. Seemed a little closed at first, but began to open up. Much more subtle pear & citrus aromas in comparison to above. Nice acidity, very zingy and a slight toasted note on the finish. Very smooth, subtle, and structured. Needs a bit more time.

Pinot Noir:

  • A&P de Villaine “La Fortune” 2013 (12.5%)- pale cherry red. Nose of red fruit and some spice. High acidity, with light-med body, and some tannin on the finish. Nice, but seemed not quite together yet.
  • A&P de Villaine “Les Clous” 2013 (12.5%): cherry red. Nose of spice and red fruit. Tasted much of much rich red fruit and spice, but alse structured and elegant.
  • A&P de Villaine “Les Digoine” 2013 (12.5%): nose of red and spice. Silky and rich, but very sipable and balanced. Rounded tannins and very super drinkable.
  • A&P de Villaine Mercurey Rouge 2013 (12.5%): Red-purplish hue. Savory, spicy with a long finish. Spice and fruit on the nose. Tannins could be a little better integrated, but probably just needs time.

All of these wines are imported by Kermit Lynch and should be fairy easy to find (at least in NYC and San Francisco). Enjoy!

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