Nothing demonstrates red Burgundy’s magic like great Volnay, with its enveloping aromatic complexity, silky texture and tremendous aging potential. And for a half century, the name “Jacques d’Angerville” was synonomous with the greatest Volnays.
From 1952 until his death in 2003, he made his family’s domaine, Marquis d’Angerville, the village’s icon. His secret was that he had no secret; his methods were, in the words of Burghound’s Allen Meadows, “minimalist in the extreme.” Relying on great sites and old vines of a unique clone, “Pinot d’Angerville,” he proved that great wines were made in the vineyard.
While all Jacques’ wines display a trademark elegance, complexity and length due to the high incidence of limestone in the subsoil, the different exposures and topsoils created distinct expressions.
For example, his Fremiets’ lushness, with notes of wood-smoke and leather, reflects the vineyard’s location on the Pommard border. His Champans is rich and full, characterized by plum, licorice and brown spice aromas and flavors. Taillepieds, just above Champans with scant topsoil, is firmly structured with a hauntingly mineral nose of griotte cherry.
Finally, Clos des Ducs, the great d’Angerville monopole, enjoys the highest elevation, on a steep, chalky slope. The “Duc” is a always a wine of grand cru intensity, with an intoxicatingly mineral perfume of rose petals, cherry and redcurrant.
Jacques D’Angerville’s non-interventionist winemaking, learned from his father, allowed these fine terroirs to be fully expressed. As he told Allen Meadows, “I want to do as little as possible to the wine. I want low yields and no signature.” After complete destemming, fermentation lasted 10 to 12 days, with a 12 to 18-month élévage in largely used barrels. To extract fine tannins, the cap was kept moist by twice-daily pump overs. Such methods not only broughtout the crus’ inherent nobility; they created wines of perfect balance and great aging ability.
Though amazingly consistent, his wines shone brightest in top years. Vintages like 1990, 1996, 1999 and 2002 brought an extra dimension of expressiveness, leading to some of the greatest wines of Jacques’ career.
By all accounts, not much has changed in the cellar since Guillaume D’Angerville took over the reins of the venerated domaine upon his father's death. After a career spent in banking overseas, Guillaume returned to his childhood home and assumed the winemaking reins in the blazing hot summer of 2003.
Initially, the world had a wait-and-see attitude, wondering if the D’Angerville magic would continue under Guillaume. By the time his 2005s were released, that question had been answered. Today, demand for D’Angerville wines could be even greater than in Jacques’ day—testament to the enduring legacy of one of the great domaines of Burgundy.
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