Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Low Yields and Surprising Wines

Changes in climate bring high yields in some years, low yields in others. Most producers keep their yields low enough to give rich and intense wines, but yields that are too low means less wine, and from a financial perspective, that can't be good. The wines are higher priced in that vintage, or the producer makes less money, neither of which are desirable outcomes.

But sometimes a low yield vintage can bring nice surprises for us wine drinkers. For example, there wasn't enough juice in 2006 for Bernard Baudry to make both Les Grézeaux, his top cuvée from gravelly hillside soils, and the cuvée Domaine, his delicious and younger-drinking wine from similar soils. So he combined them - in 2006 there was no Les Grézeaux, the juice went into cuvée Domaine. That wine is always delicious and always an excellent value, but in 2006 it is particularly good, offering some of the greater depth that is typically found in Les Grézeaux. I still have a couple bottles of 2006 cuvée Domaine and it will be interesting to see how this wine evolves.

The other night we were having my latest attempt at Bouillabaisse (pretty good indeed) and I opened a bottle of the 2007 Alice and Olivier de Moor Bourgogne Aligoté, $19, Louis/Dressner Selections. The wine was fantastic, really striking. Made in a very different style from the Aligotés by de Villaine or Roulot, both of which are also excellent. But whereas those wines are tightly wound, lean, and firm with acidity and minerality, the de Moor Aligoté was broad and oxidative and was more about lush and intense fruit. The nose had an airy, appley character, and after about a half hour the wine showed great depth and intensity of fruit on the palate. This is Aligoté - there was still plenty of acidity and the finish was definitely of a chalky mineral character. But this wine surprised me in the depth and richness of its fruit.

So I read about de Moor on the Dressner website. There are several Aligoté wines, including a "regular" wine and an old vines wine made from grapes that come from vines that are over 100 years old! Well, the wine I had must have been the Vieille Vignes, it showed such richness and intensity of fruit. No mention of it anywhere on the bottle though. Could the young vines version of this wine really be that good?

A phone call with the helpful folks at Chambers Street Wines taught me that there wasn't enough juice in 2007 for the de Moors to make the Vieille Vignes wine - there was only one Aligoté made in 2007, and it contains a blend of juice from the 100 year old vines and juice from younger vines. And this wine costs less than $20 - I wonder if the de Moors took in less revenue because of this in '07, or if this price is higher than in other vintages. Whatever the case, this is great wine, showing way above its price point. And in 2007, we have low yields to thank/blame.


TWG said...

There you go jumping to conclusions ;). Had a nice 2005 Aligote from Patrice Rion from old vines, alas it is no longer imported.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if they do it anymore, but the old growth was once labeled "plantation 1902" referring to the year the first vines were planted.