TN: Volnays at Bistro Verdu (eRP Archive)

Thanks to CT, I can begin to post some lost episodes. enjoy fwtw.


Imagine, you’re dinning in your local neighborhood bistro, enjoying your evening. One by one, you notice patrons entering carrying an assortment of boxes, bottles and one very large map. This group of 8 assembles at a table and proceeds to unveil a plethora of stems. Corks are pulled from numerous bottles and a large, I’m talking 4’ x4’, map of Volnay is strategically placed for the group. What a spectacle. I can only imagine what the couples are saying. “Are they really serious?” “Are these guys for real?”

Wednesday, March 15th has been on my calendar for over 2 months now. Periodically, I would take note and dream about this night. A tasting focusing on Volnay is akin to selecting a street, perhaps Figueroa in Highland Park, and deliberately and meticulously tasting through several, if not many, different tacos stand’s carne asada. Certainly there are differences, but an appreciation and systematic comparison is done. Ideas and impressions are formed. When done in a group setting, among like minded individuals, the experience is even more rewarding.

So it was last night that our Eastside Wine Group met for a systematic tasting of Volnays. This event would not have been possible, were it not for the generosity and wisdom of Robert Thornton. Robert donated almost all of the bottles for this event. In addition, he provided a world of knowledge and facts about the village. All I can say, with the utmost sincerity and appreciation, is thank you.

First up a white from Volnay or Mersualt, depending on your perspective. As Robert explained, if this parcel had been planted to pinot noir, we would have Volnay Santenots.

  • 1999 Domaine Marquis d’Angerville Meursault 1er Cru Santenots - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Meursault 1er Cru
    Starts out very fresh, showing some age in the nose with chopped nuts and that creme brulee like quality you only get with older wines. Nice mid palate richness with plenty of minerals. Well balanced wine showing plenty of acidity and grip, with good length to the finish. It started to flesh out a bit with air, but I finished my glass well within an hour, so I don’t know how this ended up. I liked this.

We learned from viewing the map that the Caillerets and Champans vineyards butt up to one another, with Champans (1er Cru) being the largest in Volnay. Robert explained that the northern section of these vineyards was long thought to hold the best sites in Volnay.

  • 1993 La Pousse d’Or Volnay 1er Cru Clos des 60 Ouvrées - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Volnay 1er Cru
    Started off with considerable funk in the nose that eventually blew off revealing a wonderful nose of spices. The palate shows some red fruits surrounded by damp earth and sous bois. Big structured wine that, IMHO, still needs time.
  • 2002 La Pousse d’Or Volnay 1er Cru Clos des 60 Ouvrées - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Volnay 1er Cru
    Wow is all I can say. This wine changed over the course of the night and became my favorite wine of the evening. What started out as a huge nose of spicey oak with almost a grapefruit aroma (acid?) eventually rounded out with the oak backing off considerably, displaying amazing aromas of sweet baking spices and dark fruits. The palate shows darker fruits than the '93 with tremendous mid palate richness and length. This wine was just singng after an hour in the glass. All the components are there. My impression is that this wine will become something special by about the time I’m ready to retire.
  • 1993 Domaine Marquis d’Angerville Volnay 1er Cru Champans - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Volnay 1er Cru
    Believe it or not, this was my least favorite of the flight. The nose was still shy not showing much other that some earthy forest floor. The palate was also tight and not giving out much other than a core of sour cherry and damp earth. Still needs time to break out of its shell and turn the corner.
  • 1995 Domaine Marquis d’Angerville Volnay 1er Cru Champans - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Volnay 1er Cru
    Had the '02 Soixante Ouvrées not been open tonight this wine would have been my favorite. This wine is elegent and alluring with a nose of sweet asian spices. The palate reveals red fruits with more spice and earth. Bright acidity adds to the structure with good length on the finish. I kept going back to the nose, enjoying it’s ever changing character as a fine Burg will do. Drinking really well right now.

Again, taking into consideration that Taillapieds and Clos des Chenes share the west and east borders respectively, we focused on these vineyards from the northwest portion of Volnay.

  • 1988 Domaine Marquis d’Angerville Volnay 1er Cru Taillepieds - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Volnay 1er Cru
    For an 18 year old wine, this was increadibly fresh. Showing damp earth, clove and other complex notes on the nose. I didn’t write down much on the palate impression other than still tannic. I was not overly impressed with this wine other than the nose. As Robert explained, many '88s seem to be stuck in “frozen animation” like state, showing a little austere and reticent, which this wine did. Hoepfully this one will snap out of this phase.
  • 1993 Domaine de Montille Volnay 1er Cru Taillepieds - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Volnay 1er Cru
    Though this was my first taste of the domain’s wines, after all I’ve read in both TNs and style, I admit I was somewhat biased in my appreciation for this one. Very tight and rustic in the de Montille tradition. I found the slightest note of red fruit in the nose. The palate was all acid and tannin. Very tough wine for me. I wonder what others impressions were.
  • 2000 Réyane et Pascal Bouley Volnay 1er Cru Clos des Chênes - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Volnay 1er Cru
    I was a little concerned that this producer would not stand up to the breed of domains in tonight’s lineup. Add to the fact that '00 was not the best year in Volnay, I had my reservations. Well once I got this up to my nose, all fears subsided. This one was open and singing Volnay. Nose of spice, cinnamon and clean cherry flavors. Another elegant, clean wine on the palate. Well balanced and structured for several more years of development, the wine is currently open and enjoyable. I will hold my last bottle for another year or two.
  • 2000 Domaine Michel Lafarge Volnay 1er Cru Clos des Chênes - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Volnay 1er Cru
    I actually did not get to this wine until the very end, where it had decanted in my glass for roughly 30 minutes. When compared to the Bouley, this wine showed sweeter on the nose, with a more exotic spice component. The real difference is in the structure. From a weaker vintage like '00, it was impressive to see a wine that was really endowed structurally. There is plenty of stuffing for this wine to develop in the bottle. The palate shows sour cherry fruit and a level of richness that surpasses the Bouley with a core bright acidity. Very nice length to the finish. If I owned any of these, I would hold for several years. Excellent wine and my favorite of the flight.


  • 1998 Gunderloch Nackenheim Rothenberg Riesling Auslese - Germany, Rheinhessen
    Unfortunately, I didn’t have a lot of time with this one as the night was quickly moving to a close. I can tell you it is very young, without any detectable petrol. The fruit is brite and rich. Honeyed and clearly sweet, but with a backbone of acid to balance. Very nice ending to a great evening.

This was my favorite night so far among several we have done so far as a group. Each member brings something to the table, and I’m glad to be a part of this fun group. Great night!!!

Great lineup and great notes. I think 60 ouvrees is underappreciated to some degree, but I’m ok with that as a buyer.

Sounds like a great event. Interesting to see the differences as well and I’ll make sure to upgrade my drinking window on the Taillepieds '93 by half a decade.
I visited Patrick Landanger of Pousse d’Or in may 2003 and wasn’t particularly impressed with the wines, because they were too modern for my tastes. I was however, very impressed with his innovativeness and commitment to quality! As he seems to have backed off on the new oak considerably and has reduced the lenghty cold soaks, I may have to start checking in on his wines again when my second income comes off…
Coincidentally, he recently bought domaine Moine-Hudelot of Chambolle and will be offering a slew of Côte de Nuits wines in the near future.