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There’s a reason so many wine enthusiasts—especially professional ones—end up in the thrall of Burgundy: It can be a little bit of a minefield, frankly, and an expensive one at that, but when a Burgundy “hits” like today’s wine does, the pricing makes sense. This old-vine Volnay from Régis Rossignol-Changarnier is simply on another level relative to most wines we taste here, Burgundy or otherwise. And this would be as clear to a novice as it was to our jaded group: The wine’s combination of structure, polish, aromatic complexity, minerality, and concentration is simply exceptional. You’ve heard the expression “wine of the night?” Well, pick your night: This one has a great chance of walking away with the title. Best of all, it’s a resolutely old-school style of Burgundy from a seasoned vigneron straight out of central casting. Pound for pound, it will go down as one of our best Burgundy values all year, and if you’d like to look like a genius 10 years from now, find a way to lose a few of these in your cellar!
Upon tasting today’s 2019, we did a little digging on the domaine, and found a photo of the now-retired Régis Rossignol in his cellar, clad in coveralls and a beret and standing next to an upturned barrel set with tasting glasses. This is a man who started working in the vineyards alongside his father in the 1950s, eventually taking the reins at the estate in 1966. A little quick math tells you a lot about the name on the label and the wine in the bottle: Régis had some 70 vintages under his belt at this 6.5 hectare property, and was in possession of some of the oldest vines in Volnay (including the source vineyards for this vieilles vignes bottling, which are said to be more than 60 years old). These vineyards were recently sold, so this 2019 is one of the last vintages we’ll see from this heirloom property.
Overall, the Rossignol-Changarnier holdings extended into Pommard, Beaune, Savigny-Lès-Beaune and Meursault as well, and while the estate’s farming wasn’t certified, it was effectively organic: no synthetic herbicides, pesticides, or fertilizers were used, and the viticulture was resolutely traditional. The wines were typically vinified on ambient yeasts, with a significant percentage of whole clusters left intact (something you definitely taste, and feel, in this ’19). Aging of this ’19 lasted 13 months in French oak barriques, just 20% of which were new.
As some tasters have remarked about “Cuvée Camille,” it’s a Volnay with some Pommard aspects to its character: it displays some darker fruit notes and has a firm structure (I was reminded of the Volnays of the legendary Marquis D’Angerville, if that helps). But there’s also a highly perfumed character that screams “Volnay!” It’s a brilliant garnet red with slight magenta highlights at the rim. The nose is deep and expressive, immediately indicative of something serious: ripe red and black cherries, wild strawberry, rhubarb, violets, crushed rock, underbrush, smoke, and a hint of baking spice all jump from the glass. It is medium-bodied but leaning toward medium-plus, and it’s well-structured for aging (another decade-plus of positive evolution is easily within this wine’s reach). If you’d like to enjoy one now, decant it 60 minutes before serving at 60-65 degrees in Burgundy stems and strap in for a thrill ride: Paired with something ultra-traditional like beef bourguignon or coq au vin, this is a Burgundy experience you won’t soon forget—and, given what wines of this caliber usually fetch, you’re getting off cheap! Enjoy!
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