The flamboyant Jean-Charles Boisset has always been a bit of a maverick. The scion of a Burgundy vintner, he was determined from an early age to move to America. When he ultimately settled in San Francisco in the early 1990s he managed the office of his family’s enterprise, Boisset America. A few years later he purchased Lyeth Estates, one California’s early pioneers in meritage wines (Bordeaux-style blends) and the first of his many U.S. properties.
In 1999 Jean-Charles and his sister Nathalie accomplished something unthinkable in Burgundy at the time: they reconstituted the best of their family’s vineyard holdings in the Côte de Beaune and Côte de Nuits into a new estate called Domaine de la Vougeraie. Boisset today controls nearly 30 wine properties or brands, but Vougeraie remains the core of his identity. It controls 91 acres of vineyard holdings scattered across 29 different appellations, with all wines sharing a common vision and style.
Among the whites, 2014 Savigny Les Beaune Blanc ($36) is the bargain. It offers whiffs of citrus, stone fruits and forest undergrowth. Medium-bodied, fresh and clean in the mouth, with good acidity and persistent notes of peach and lemon, it clings nicely to the palate and displays good substance. Clos du Prieuré Blanc is a singular and distinctive wine, particularly with some bottle age; the 2011 ($75 is complex and fleshy, with an abundance of citrus flavors, hints of tropical fruit and scents of lemon oil and charred oak. At the top of the range, 2014 Corton-Charlemagne ($125) is a full-bodied, rich and ripe wine with excellent acidity, a strong mineral backbone, and finely delineated citrus flavors that persist from beginning to end.
Aromas of wild strawberry and red raspberry waft up from a glass of 2014 Pommard Les Petits Noizons ($60). It is light to medium-bodied in the mouth, with a core of red berry fruit and a fine herbal edge. The flavors carry over onto a long finish. A pair of bottlings from Nuits St. Georges are a study in contrasts. The 2013 1er Cru Clos du Thorey ($100) is fresh and concentrated, with a midpalate that reveals flavors of currants, dark berry notes and earth tones. Medium-bodied and compact, the 2014 Les Damodes ($80) displays crunchy flavors of both red and dark berries, along with a complexity that builds toward the finish.
The nose of the 2014 Grand Cru Clos du Vougeot ($135) exudes whiffs of black cherries, anise, fresh herbs and touches of mint. It is full-bodied, concentrated and very well balanced, with flavors of black raspberry and plum intertwined with touches of forest floor; the tart finish reveals very good acidity and aging potential. The wine can fairly be described as a sleeping giant, and will be fascinating to taste again in ten years.
Mark Spivak is the author of Iconic Spirits: An Intoxicating History (Lyons Press, 2012) and Moonshine Nation (Lyons Press, 2014); his first novel, Friend of the Devil, is now available from Black Opal Books. For more information, go to amazon.com.