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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.
1988 VINTAGE in Burgundy / 1988 has been a good vintage in Burgundy, with enough quantity to offset the revived demand of our foreign and home customers.
Good summer weather meant an early harvest of excellent quality for the reds. Rich and well structured, these wines which were a little rough in their youth today offer a wonderful opportunity to drink quality mature Pinot Noir, the best will continue to improve. The great whites can be put in the same category as the reds : full, round, well balanced and are very good to drink now.
The nearly geat year
As anyone knows, what we need in Burgundy is warm weather all the time, with the exception of a few showers now and then just to keep the leaves green, and at the end of the season to help the vine continue to produce sugar and to lower acidity.
The spell of cold that we had at the beginning of September interrupted a long period of sunshine and stopped for a while the maturing of the grapes: rain only came during the vendange itself, too late to ensure their perfect ripening.
The last days of the season were, as always, the most breath-taking, with marvellous summer-like weather in the second half of September. Harvesting as late as possible was beneficial, as it nearly always is: there was no rot on the superb bunches of grapes, a deep colour, and an excellent balance of the various elements.
During the summer of 1988 and until the very end we had only one half of the average rainfall. This deficit was difficult to overcome and, with the hot weather of August and most of September and the happy flowering of the grapes in the middle of June, we have been just a hair's breadth from a great vintage.
All the good winegrowers who had pruned carefully and not indulged in high yields easily obtained from 12 to 12.5 potential degrees of alcohol, which indicates very good quality; and although the lack of rain slowed the ripening, it had the advantage of keeping the individual grapes small, giving concentration, tannin and colour to the wines.
After the first "décuvage", the overall impression is that the red wines have structure and tannin, with a beautiful vivid colour, the depth of which is really only seen in good vintages.
The acidity is medium to high and it is obvious that we will have a "vin de garde", which will mellow only after a long period of ageing in cask and bottle.
It is difficult to compare 1988 with another vintage, as precocity usually means that the vines have had plenty of sunshine and produce mellow and soft wines; however, the `88 will compare more with a very good vintage picked in October, like 1978 or 1952.
The great whites will be put in the same category as the reds: good structure, power and a lot of firmness.
In the Beaujolais, the news is excellent too: good colour, perfect ripening and overall abundance.