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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.
Burgundy Report: Arguably the of the decade producing consistently high quality wines the breadth of the Côte de Nuits. 1988 is a more complete version of 1985. This time the wealth of sumptuous fruit was matched by a firmness of structure gave us first class wines.
Prices rose at the Hospices sale by 35%, albeit after two quiet years, and growers also increased their prices though not by as much. Tasted later in 2000, the wines seemed still very much on the young side. Those at village level were singing, the premier and grands crus still tight.
Red Burgundy 1988 - The Weather
For once Burgundy escaped the pitfalls of frost, hail and rot. Spring 1988 was warm and gentle without a disastrous cold snap, leading to good flowering conditions in June, followed by hot, dry weather throughout most of July and August.
September was mostly fine and dry; some growers began harvesting in the 3rd week of the month but those who waited until the end of September were amply rewarded and produced the best wines.
In youth the wines were deeply coloured and well structured with very prominent tannins. Over the years they have become more integrated and harmonious, with the best wines now combining a very good balance of ripe fruit, crisp acidity and svelte tannins. They are drinking well now, although many of the top wines still have not reached their peak.