Michel Gros, Vosne-Romanée, Clos des Réas Premier Cru Monopole – 14 Vintages

This tasting was held by Clive Coates MW in London on 10th December 2003. “Vosne-Romanée is the greatest Pinot on Earth” quoted Clive. These notes are my own made at the time.  This was the last tasting at Clive’s house in Chiswick, London, before he moved to Beaujolais. Ironically it was my first attendance, and on my Birthday too! Clive published “The Vine” for 20 years and is one of the great Burgundy and Bordeaux authorities. He can be found at www.clive-coates.com.

Thanks to this tasting, Clos des Réas became a firm favourite of mine.

The property
Vosne-Romanée has six Grand Cru (including Domaine de la Romanée-Conti) and 11 Premiers Cru, of which Clos des Réas is one. It is a 2.13 hectare triangular walled Clos that has belonged to the Gros family since 1860. Despite complicated inheritance laws the family have ensured that this, the only Vosne-Romanée Premier Cru Monopole, has been kept intact. Michel Gros made his first vintage in 1975 and the Clos has been solely the property of Michel Gros since 1996.  The Clos is located at the South side of Vosne-Romanée, just below La Tache. It’s regularly viewed as one of the better Premiers Cru, not a heavyweight but rather “very pure Pinot fragrance at it’s most elegant”.

Technical
Viticulture: prune short and rub out excess buds rather than green harvest to control yields. Minimal spraying. Hand picked and triage.

Vinification: de-stemming, fermentation in cement vats with temperature control at around 32 deg C for 10-12 days. No cold maceration prior to fermentation, Gros is not looking for extraction. Uses selected yeasts for more reliable fermentations, with pigeage twice per day. 18 months in oak, uses between 50% and 70% new oak (with a high toast) at each vintage. Racked once and Keiselguhr filtered prior to bottling. Makes between 28 and 30 228 litre casks each year, which implies low yields of 32 hl/ha and some 9,100 bottles.

Fourteen vintages were tasted, all supplied by Michel Gros, and all in good condition, from the following years: 2000/1999/1998/1997/1996/1995/1994/1993/1992/1991/1990/1989/1988 and 1985. Vintages regarded as classic in Burgundy are in bold.

The wines

2000

Bright and clear medium brick red, thin pink rim. Medium intensity Pinot nose: red fruits, some oak spice. Medium bodied, fresh with plenty of acidity and young firm tannins. Concentration. Cherry-ish fruit, long finish, a good example of fine winemaking in an ordinary-ish vintage, early drinking from 2007 onwards.

1999

Darker than 2000, more colour, richer, still purple on the rim, youthful. Intense and fine perfume, a bit closed…violets, oak, red cherry fruit. Bigger and much more powerful on palate, more alcohol, acidity and lots tannins but balanced out by plenty of fruit…Grip. I went back to this at the end, had opened up in the glass. Lot’s of development seems possible. Very good in a great vintage. Don’t touch! 2010-2030

1998

Colour shows first signs of development-brown tinge appearing at rim. Nose dumber initially, did open up in glass, beginning of farmyard aromas, quite spicy, plenty of acidity, lot of backbone, cherry fruit and length. Suffers in comparison to 1999, better than the 2000. 2008-2020.

1997

Lighter than 1998, more browning, quite marked at rim, some maturity. Full farmyard nose. Palate disappointing in comparison, not much fruit yet tannins still firm. Hot vintage, wine has developed quickly. Drinking now-2008.

1996

Contrast to 1995 below is marked. Development again like 1997, closed nose, some farmyard. High acidity. Initially wondered where the fruit was, needed time in the glass. Took a while to open up in glass, then plenty there, but a bit lean for me. 2006-2026.

1995

Small crop. Very brown rim. Complex nose, farmyard, spicier…lot of development. Palate red berry fruit, high acidity, medium body, lacks structure, perhaps a little “rustic” or angular. Disappointing for me, but especially compared to 1996. 2005-2010.

1994

Very good given the poor vintage. Looks younger than the 1995. Not much fruit on the nose, a bit of leather/gamey character, softened tannins, shortish length but I enjoyed this one. Drinking now to 2010.

1993

Small concentrated crop. Initially austere and tight, reviewed badly (and wrongly) by Parker. Absolutely delicious and unexpectedly so. Darker than most, more colour and extract, broad rim shows some ageing, not as much as 94 or 95. Very fine perfumed nose, complexity here, violets again, farmyard aroma and cherry. Full bodied, very spicy, superb concentration. I preferred this to universally liked 96. May rank slightly behind the 1999 but lovely. Drinking now but another year or two won’t hurt. 2004-2025.

1992

Very light nose, quite dumb (Clive called it “diffuse”). Palate has spice and vanilla. First time obvious vanilla not integrated or balanced. Fruit gone, still plenty of acidity and tannins. Will it ever open up? Not a good example from an indifferent vintage. Re-visited later to see if this was a reaction to the 1993. It wasn’t, Drink Up. The least interesting wine on the night.

1991

Delicious, and so I swallowed! Deeper colour than 92, more like the 93 or 94. Big perfumed nose, “chestnuts roasting on an open fire”…very silky mouthfeel, balanced, very long length. All elegance and finesse. Again denigrated by Parker and was gawky when young. Now to 2011

1990

Deeper colour more extract than 1991, superb powerful nose, complexity, more compost/leafy than farmyard. Very big mouthfeel, lush, lots of spicy fruit, velvet long, long length. Profound in fact. My favourite on the night (just). Swallowed again! Drink now to 2020.

1989

Lighter colour than 1990. Note, no browner than say the 1995. Pronounced farmyard, classic aged Pinot nose. Plenty of acidity, more angular than the 1990 but very good. More fruit than the 1990 but not as rich. Clive Coates prefers this to the 1990 and said this is one of the best 1989 Burgundy’s he’s had. “Absolutely à point”. Now to 2015.

1988

Similar in many ways to the 1989, especially the nose. Still fresh, plenty left, nicely balanced, not the richness of 1990 or the fruit of 1989. Now to 2013

1985

Now very brown, extending right back to the core, really mature. Nose is all aged Pinot, farmyards, complexity, leather, spice, gamey, mushrooms and compost. Love it (I did) or hate it.  Delicious palate. Lots of acidity, cherry fruit still there, structure still there. Now to 2010 but why wait any longer?

Conclusions

With the exception of the 1992, these wines were all of a consistently very high quality. They were also a good barometer of vintage variation in Burgundy. Once again though they also prove the point that in Burgundy a good producer like Michel Gros can make good wine regardless of the vintage conditions. These wines are very true to the terroir; balanced wines without massive extraction or intrusive oak, quite “feminine” for a Cotes des Nuits and not designed for early drinking. They are very consistent and can be bought with confidence by those looking for elegance and finesse as hallmarks of red Burgundy. My wine of the night? The 1999, by the slimmest of margins. Roll on 2010.

Domaine Michel Gros
7, rue des Communes
21700
Vosne-Romanée
France
Tel:  00 33 3 80 61 04 69
Fax: 00 33 3 80 61 22 29

11th December 2003

 

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