Our tasting impressions
Fittingly for a noble Grand Cru, the last wine presented chez Rion for tasting. As regal as its pedigree, there is noticeably more depth and width on display. Young and tannic for sure, but the combination of the elegant Rion style and the vintage’s ripe fruit make this surprisingly approachable. Still, the best is yet to come.
About this wine
Clos de Vougeot is Grand Cru Pinot Noir, the highest designation in Burgundy. The Rion plot, with vines more than 80 years old, is just below the iconic castle, within the walls (Clos). The vineyard is managed rationally and sustainably without herbicides and pesticides.
The grapes are handpicked and de-stemmed. Full berries ferment in cement tanks for two weeks with daily, manual punching down of the caps, followed by pneumatic pressing. Aging is in all new oak barrels for about 15 months. Production is a mere 600 bottles per year.
About the grape
Pinot Noir is an ancient grape from eastern France. Notoriously challenging, it thrives in cooler climates. The concept of terroir is most closely identified with Burgundy because the lightness of Pinot Noir enables it to so transparently express minor differences (which is why experienced tasters can discern the difference in wines produced from vineyards in very close proximity). Intense popularity resulted in plantings all over the world but most agree that its finest expression is in the Côte d’Or of Burgundy.
About the vintage (Domaine perspective)
The weather was very nice in the spring and summer of 2015. The days were hot but not scorching and the nights reasonably cool, even if the average temperature was a bit hotter than usual. The grapes matured well and picking began on September 4. It was dry throughout the harvest and the morning humidity was low. Yield was lower than typical but concentration was very good because the summer drought resulted in less juice in the grapes and they more naturally achieved the desired alcohol level.
A true family affair, Armelle, Bernard and their daughters, Nelly, Melissa and Alice and her husband Louis, manage 7.5 hectares of vines producing 35,000 bottles of 14 wines across 8 appellations, including some of the most coveted ground in the Côte de Nuits. Five generations of this Rion family have been making wine since the late 19th century.
The Rions farm their mostly old-vine plots lutte-raisonnée (mostly natural and non-interventionist but within reason based on what nature dictates). Everything is done by hand, they destem completely, ferment 2-weeks in concrete tanks and age in a mix of old and new oak barrels.
Their wines are remarkably elegant and finessed while remaining true to the terroir of the different vineyards. While they do not display overt power, they do not want for structure and fortitude and are certainly age-worthy. They are heavenly with the truffles they forage with their 3 dogs.