I love Cote de Beaune wines and for years I have thought that the wines of Pommard and Volnay often do not follow their stereotypes (ie Volnay is elegant and airy while Pommard is big and rustic) as there are very elegant Pommards and some fairly rustic Volnays.
Given that it was really interesting to meet and taste with Nicolas Rossignol (a rising superstar in these communes). Nicolas put together many contrasting blind pairings from these appellations and repeatedly asked which was Volnay and which was Pommard. Of course, in most of the pairs he chose vineyards that defied the conventional stereotypes. Nicolas went on to explain how the upper slope Pommards with good exposure to the sun (ie east facing and not in the cooler valley) often make elegant, airy wines. Some examples of these are Pezerolles, Rugiens, Chanlins, Charmots and Fremiets. Often these wines can be every bit as elegant as some Volnays. Nicolas went on the explain that the more rustic Pommards are produced in the cooler valley and often less rocky soils.
I think the “Pommard’s are big and rustic” false reputation has created a situation where many beautifully elegant Pommard 1er cru bottlings are a great value and easier to find than Volnay’s of similar quality which seemed like an interesting topic for WB…
There is a little river that runs down through the center of Pommard. Locals have explained to me that Pommards on the beaune side of the river are “elegant and airy” whilst those on the Volnay side are “big and rustic”. Which is fun and counterintuitive !
I absolutely agree, Kevin. The stereotype I think comes from village level wines where it is not that inaccurate-Vignots and Vaumuriens and some other lieux-dits to the contrary but unusual because of that, and it’s fairly rare that Village Volnays are rustic.
Very true. But I have to say I’m surprised to see Fremiets on the elegant/refined list with Rugiens, Chanlins, etc. I’ve always regarded the abutting Volnay Fremiets as a very muscular Pommard type of Volnay.
I guess I have had more Pommard that are elegant than Volnay’s that are rustic - esp. a 1972 de Montille Regiens I had a few years ago. So, Kevin, from my experience I can agree with half of what you are saying.
Have you had a lot of more rustic Volnays? From where - vineyard and producer?
Great topic. I’ve had a long held bias against Pommard that maybe I need to reconsider.
The other misconception is that Volnays, being light and pretty, are early drinkers. That’s not at all been my experience. good ones take the requisite 10-15 years to reach enjoyable maturity, and they seem to be able to age forever.
The few I had at a local tasting were overextracted and overoaked. This is a much greater crime with Volnay than with Pommard, and the one Pommard that was poured was pretty good. But Pommard is about as popular now as 100-point Aussie Shiraz, so nobody wants to pour it, even from producers which specialize in it.
Should be said that if I had to make a top-ten list of favorite Burgs, the Comte Armand Pommard 1er Cru Clos des Epeneaux would be in there…
Well they were 2009s, and the Volnays were simply not impressive, they were destroyed by other 2009 Volnays from d’Angerville and Montille for similar prices. But as I said I think his style works better for Pommard, and he has a lot of Pommard in his lineup, but nobody here wants to pour or sell it. Oh well.
Nicholas Rossignol wines are “stunners” in that they are stunningly ordinary. My experience is from the 2005-2007 vintages, so perhaps something has changed since 2007. In Volnay, where there are, you know, a shitton of really good wines being made and being sold in the States for, in some cases, criminally low prices (i.e. 2007 Angerville), to call Nicholas Rossignol a “rising star” (whatever that means - it’s basically a marketing term) is completely ridiculous.
Kevin, are you in Burgundy? I happen to agree that Rossignol is an up and comer (if not rising star). I’ve liked the wines I’ve tried in recent years, and have bought a few of his 10s. Personally, I’ve always been a Pommard fan, because a like a little meat to my red wines My own theory is that some of the “lesser” communes like Volnay and Pommard are that way not completely because of their terroir, but also because more famous villages have gotten more attention and more money. It’s a bit of a self-fullfilling prophecy, where you can sell your wines for more money, which allows you to invest more in the vineyard. With all the boats floating higher these days, I expect places like Volnay and Pommard to perhaps start competing more equally with some of the more prestigious communes.
As to your premise, I would have loved to do the comparisons you mention, but for now my experience still seems to match the expectations of the two regions. But how much of that is winemaking that is working to match those expectations?