Volnay tasting   
An interesting tasting of Volnay (Burgundy) held at London wine merchant Roberson Wine

The village of Volnay in Burgundy has a reputation for making elegant Burgundies. Indeed, the wines can show the sort of elegance and ethereal quality that Chambolle Musigny is known for. They've been described as the Chambolle-Musignys of the Côte de Beaune

When the Côte was classified in 1860, Volnay didn't get any Grand Cru sites. However, 54% of the vineyard area is of Premier Cru level, which is unusually high. With the exception of Beaune, this is the highest in Burgundy.

Altogether there are 207 hectares of Volnay, with 118 hectares of 1er cru vineyards. 

This sort of tasting, focusing on the wines of just one village, is interesting, but it is too small a sample to be able to draw any conclusions about the sorts of characteristics of Volnay generally. The difficulty is that the terroir effects are expressed in tandem with the growers style, the influence of winemaking and the effect of the vintage conditions. It was nice that we were largely tasting mature wines. So often in the wine trade while you taste broadly, you tend to taste just very young wines.

The first two wines were from the same vineyard, Frémiets, a middling 1er Cru vineyard on the border with Pommard. Pommard has more clay, which results in bigger wines. Frémiets has strong, shaley stones and not as much lime as many other vineyards, and this results in more elegant wines.

Boillot is an important family in Volnay. Jean Boillot had two sons, Jean-Marc and Henri. In the 1980s they were brought into the family business, and there was a slight family rift because Jean-Marc wanted to change the direction of the Domaine. In 1984 when Henri arrived, Jean-Marc left to work as head winemaker with Olivier Leflaive. Since then he has gone off on his own.

Jean Boillot Volnay 1er Cru Frémiets 2001
This was a hail-affected vintage with yields down to 10 hl/ha. Lovely aromatics: sweet ripe cherry and berry fruit with some warm spiciness. Slightly exotic. The palate is richly fruited but elegant with some meaty, spicy notes behind the rich, vibrant fruit. Expressive and lovely, for current drinking. 94/100

d'Angerville Volnay 1er Cru Frémiets 2006
Spicy and quite dense with a savoury edge. Cherryish and quite herby. Angular with firm tannins and perhaps a subtle hint of mustiness. Tough. 88/100

J-M Boillot Volnay 1er Cru Pitures 1996
Lovely mineral, savoury cherry core to this with bright herb-tinged red fruits. Quite drying and savoury. Evolving really nicely with lots of personality, and will probably evolve more. 94/100

The Pousse d'Or domaine was started in 1964 by Gerard Potel, but the ownership changed in 1997, when it was half owned by Potel and half by an Aussie consortium. This wine is a declassified 1er Cru Caillerets because of a discrepancy in the paperwork. 

Pousse d'Or Volnay Caillerets 1997
Nicely aromatic: sweet cherry fruit nose is perfumed with some sappy notes and spicy warmth. The palate is juicy, spicy and fresh with very nice herby cherry and berry fruit. Drinking well now. 92/100

JM Bouley Volnay 1er Cru Clos des Chenes 1995
The first bottle opened was very stinky, so we opened another. The second bottle is fresh, bright, cherryish and spicy with some earthy notes and minerality. It's fading but still quite attractive. 89/100

Ampeau Volnay 1er Cru Santenots 1992
Santenots is actually in Meursault, the next door commune, but when red wines are made here, they count as Volnay. Deep coloured and a bit cloudy with some browning. The palate is earthy and mineral with savoury animal and soy sauce notes. It's dead. NR

De Montille Volnay 1er Cru En Champains 1999
Fine, elegant restrined raspberry and cherry fruit on the nose. The palate shows silky cherry fruit and notes of herbs and spice. Very attractive and pure with lovely structure. Classic. 95/100

Lafarge Volnay 1er Cru Clos Chateau des Ducs 1999
Aromatic and spicy on the nose with ripe cherry fruits. The palate is fresh and structured with subtle herby notes, some juicy cherry fruit and nice structure. Good acidity and structure. Lovely. 94/100

Lafon Volnay 1er Cru Santenots 1990
Quite deep coloured. Spicy and savoury with some warm, earthy notes. Savoury and grippy with nice cherry and berry fruit, as well as some tertiary notes. Nicely structured with a drying finish. 92/100

Tasting held at Roberson Wine, 348 Kensington High St, London
Website: www.robersonwinemerchant.co.uk

See also:

Visiting Burgundy (series)
The wines of Comtes Lafon

Wines tasted 05/10  
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