The wine-growing village of Flagey-Échezeaux lies in the " Plain ", so-called, between Vougeot and Vosne-Romanée in the Côte de Nuits. Facing east, the Grands-Échezeaux vines are a prolongation of Musigny following the North-South axis of the Côte, but more regular and less broken in their layout. At the bottom end, the " Climat " known as La Combe d'Orveau separates them from Musigny. The Échezeaux vineyards, for their part, divide the Clos de Vougeot from the Premier Cru vines of Vosne-Romanée.
Grands-Échezeaux and Échezeaux both date their Grands Crus AOCs from July 31, 1937. Like the Clos de Vougeot (from which they are separated only by a wall), they were founded by the monks of the abbey of Cîteaux and date from the 12th and 13th centuries. Their name derives from chesaux, a word of Gallo-Roman origin meaning a group of dwellings, presumably referring to an ancient hamlet.
Belonging geologically to the Jurassic (175 million years BC), the GrandsÉchezeaux vineyards are fairly homogeneous and lie close to the upper part of the Clos de Vougeot. Gradient: 3-4%. Soil: clay-limestone overlying Bajocien limestone. Altitudes: 250 metres. The Échezeaux Climats have more diverse soils (largely bajocien marls with pebbly overlay). Altitudes vary from 230 to a little over 300 metres (13% gradient at mid-slope). Up-slope, the soil is deep (70-80 cm). Gravels, red alluvium, yellowish marl, etc., make up quite a complex mosaic.
Red: its colour is ruby, shading towards the darker tones of magenta and purple. Its bouquet is redolent of animal, spice notes, underbrush, and prune, evolving with age towards musk, leather, fur and mushroom. When young, its aromas suggest rose, violet and fresh cherry. On the palate, there is a heightened attack and an agreeable balance between supple tannins and fully-rounded flavour. The dense texture and tight grain of these wines fully open after 4-5 years in the cellar.
Wines so powerful and full demand to be matched with dishes of the same calibre. Virile, four-sided tannins cry out for roast lamb, rib steak, or joints of game. Autumn and winter dishes in the right setting match the profound and meaty personality of these great wines : braised beef or pork, for example, or any other good red meat. Fine, whole-milk, soft-centred cheeses will also do them proud.
Serving temperature : 15 to 16 °C.
The 2007 harvest is finished. The weather is fine with a wind blowing from the North, which both delights the vigneron and makes him regret that these ideal conditions did not arrive a little earlier! But we have to adapt to the will of the climate and we perfectly know that it is in this difficult context of Burgundy with its tortuous weather, softened by exceptionally micro-climatic conditions, especially at the end of the season, that the Pinot Noir and the Chardonnay grapes can reach the fine maturity that will lead them to their best expression. Even to us, vignerons, this incredible "gift" sometimes seems near-miraculous. We could witness it once again with this vintage that will remain as one of the most outstanding of these last years.
The beginning of the growing season was exceptional.
The bud burst and the bunch setting were extremely early thanks to a summer-like April resulting in a significant advance of the vegetation. Moreover, the famous Palm wind, that blows on Palm Sunday and announces the dominant wind of the year, blew from the North presaging a dry year.
We have then the feeling that the same type of vintage as 2003 was taking shape with harvest starting in mid-August. At the time of the flowering, very early also (around May 20th) the vigneron was rather happy and had all the reasons to hope for a great vintage with an average crop reduced by millerandage. Unfortunately, the flowering spread out over three weeks and had the effect of creating differences in ripeness between the vineyards, between the vines and often between the berries of the same bunch of grapes. As a consequence, we already knew that we would have to do a very selective sorting at the harvest.
These differences in ripeness could also be observed in the vines. The Chardonnay was ten days late compared with Pinot Noir, which is totally unusual. At the time of the "véraison" and of course at the harvest, there was a difference of more than a week. After harvesting the Pinot Noir, we had to wait as long to harvest the Chardonnay.
For once, the Palm wind, as mentioned above, lied and the opposite to what we were expecting happened: from May, the dominant winds blew from the West and the South and the season was often damp with a succession of heat, storms, cold, humidity, all these factors being the friends of our worst enemies: mildew, oïdium and botrytis. Fortunately, thanks to the uninterrupted attention of Nicolas Jacob, our vineyard manager, and his team, we managed to fight them while keeping exclusively to our organic methods.
Under such difficult conditions, as days went by, a good part of the early advance of the vegetative cycle was lost, even if, at this stage, we still thought that the harvest would start around August 20th.
Yet, the first part of August turned out to be one of the rainiest in recent years giving one more challenge to the vigneron: botrytis. Luckily, as it was cold, it did not develop as much as we feared and around August 20th, as often in Burgundy, a miraculous change in the weather pattern occurred: sunny days returned in force and set in until the end of September.
This dry fine weather accompanied by the North wind first stopped the attacks of botrytis and dried affected berries. One can say that in this occasion botrytis resulted into a sort of natural "éclaircissage" (thinning) and then accelerated in a totally outstanding manner the ripening of the grapes. Thanks to the reserves of water retained in the soil all through the year, the photosynthesis functioned at full blast and the production of sugar increased very fast. The grapes gained 1° to 1.5° of alcohol per week and acidities remained quite high.
By early September, full maturity was reached in our old vineyards. The harvest began on September 1st and lasted until the 11th for the red wines. Our harvesting team performed once again the "haute-couture" work that we required from them in order to eliminate the botrytis and to sort out the grapes that were bigger or not fully ripe.
As a result of our fine low yielding vines (Pinot fin) in our old vineyards, of millerandage and of severe selection in order to eliminate the dry botrytis and to leave aside the grapes that had not fully ripened, the yields are low and the crop is rather small (22ha to 28ha depending on the "cru").
Fermentations proceeded well under the close watch of Bernard Noblet.
Devatting has just finished. It is too early to give a definitive opinion about wines just released from the "suffering" of fermentation.
The wines are dark red. On the nose, they are very classic. The palate is firm and full. We will have to wait for the malolactic fermentations, that we of course do not want to hasten, before we can have a more precise idea of the characteristics of this vintage.
The fate of the Montrachet vineyards was totally different from that of our Pinots in Vosne-Romanée. As much as our Pinots in full maturity suffered from the eight storms of August and were severely bitten by botrytis, the Chardonnays, thanks to their difference at the "véraison", overcame this obstacle without being hit by botrytis. It was then essential to wait.
The grapes ripened slowly and full maturity was not reached until mid-September. We were the last to harvest golden and ultra ripe grapes on September 17th. There was quantity as well.
To conclude, we were close to defeat because of a stormy August, but the efforts that vignerons put in controlling the yields in a natural way as well, of course, as the meticulous sorting, permitted to take advantage of these 5 weeks of fine weather between August 20th and the end of September and even later.