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CLOS VOUGEOT - Chateau de la Tour

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Chateau de la Tour and its famous Clos Vougeot Grand Cru

francois-labet-clos-vougeotLocated in the heart of the prestigious Cote de Nuit, Chateau de la Tour rises in the upper part, not far from the famous Cistercian mansion, inside the walls of the Clos Vougeot, the birthplace of Burgundy viticulture.

The vineyard is a little over 5 hectares. François Labet is by far the most important owner of this Protected Designation of Origin: Clos Vougeot Grand Cru.

The first vinifications was in 1930 but the notoriety of Chateau de la Tour, which is now more obvious abroad than in France, is due to the arrival of Francois Labet in 1986. Substantial means and the help of the Famous oenologist Burgundy Jean-Pierre Confuron have been deployed to produce great wines.

The vineyard has been organic certified since 1992 and planted exclusively in Pinot Noir, a grape variety adapted to the clayey-limestone soils of the Clos Vougeot plot.

The grapes are harvested manually and transported in wicker baskets so that the oxidized juices of the rare burst berries can drain. They are sorted and not destemmed. Alcoholic fermentations start alone thanks to the native yeasts, naturally present on the berries of grapes.

The ageing is mainly done in new oak barrels, to give a very aging capacity to the wines. All wine movements within the cellar, especially bottling, are carried out by gravity (and without filtration). A guarantee of quality at a relatively wise price for a Grand Cru de Bourgogne of this size.

Two wines of Grand Cru Clos Vougeot are produced at Chateau de la Tour: a classic wine and a confidential wine made of old vines.

Robert Parker's Wine Advocate (Neil Martin, juin 2014): The wines from Chateau de la Tour have not been reviewed by this publication for years, principally because during the 1990s, quality trailed off. However, I have been noticing an upswing in recent vintages, in no small part due to the efforts of Francois Labet and his team that tend the 5.48 hectares of vine, including the single hectare planted in 1910, part of which is separated and released as a Vieilles Vignes. Their vines have been farmed organically since 1992 and Francois opts to prune hard early in the season rather than undertaking a green harvest, usually with whole-cluster, natural ferments. Approximately 50% new wood is used for the Cuvee Classique, while the Vieilles Vignes is raised entirely in new oak. Francois's 2012s are well-worth checking out. This historic clos is notoriously fickle when it comes to quality, some growers producing astonishing wines and others trading on the name. Chateau de la Tour once might have been guilty of doing that, but these two wines suggest that this is no longer the case.

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