2022 Domaine Etienne Delarche, Pernand-Vergelesses 1er Cru "Ile des Vergelesses"
2022 Domaine Etienne Delarche, Pernand-Vergelesses 1er Cru "Ile des Vergelesses"

2022 Domaine Etienne Delarche, Pernand-Vergelesses 1er Cru "Ile des Vergelesses"

Burgundy, France 2022 (750mL)
Regular price$65.00

2022 Domaine Etienne Delarche, Pernand-Vergelesses 1er Cru "Ile des Vergelesses"

Going back to the earliest days of SommSelect you’ll see that we have been all-in on the wines of Etienne Delarche from the get go. A decade later, after tasting every vintage and many, many wines, we can say with confidence that we picked a winner. Etienne’s wines were great then, but they’ve improved every year since and he’s now at the very top of his game. The Grand Crus from his family’s excellent parcels on the famous hill of Corton tend to get the most attention from us (and rightly so), but it’s been a few years since we’ve offered what may be the sneakiest best value in his entire, prestigious line up: “Ile des Vergelesses.” Long considered a potential Grand Cru itself, this tiny little “island” of a vineyard sits just behind the Corton parcels, and offers an extraordinarily pure expression of Pinot Noir. The pedigree and profundity that will emerge after just a few years is reason enough to stock your cellar, but even better is that you can confidently place these bottles right next to your Grand Crus that cost three, four, five times as much. It’s limited of course, so don’t delay!

With its quarter-mile proximity to the base of Corton, “Ile de Vergelesses” is easily considered one of Etienne Delarche’s—and the Côte de Beaune’s—top Premier Cru sites. Many experts place it on the short list for elevation to Grand Cru status along with its famous neighbors on the hill of Corton, but until that happens these bottles are a Burgundy insiders dream, offering the same complexity and age-ability for a tiny fraction of the price. Hopefully you also grabbed a few bottles of the Corton offerings a few months ago (they’re long sold out), but if not then all the more reason to stock up on today’s soaring “Ile des Vergelesses.”

Domaine Etienne Delarche lies in the foothills above Pernand-Vergelesses and was originally established in the mid-1900s. Since then, the torch has been passed three times, from father to son, in classic Burgundian fashion. Philippe Delarche and his son, Etienne, jointly tended the vineyards and crafted the wine as a team until Philippe lost a long battle with cancer in 2007. Since then, Etienne has carried on, implementing the wisdom of his father and his own experiences around the world to produce exquisitely beautiful wines one vintage after the next. His ability to retain the original charm and artisanal style that his forefathers laid down has turned many important heads in the wine world, causing Delarche’s stock to continuously rise. 

The walled vineyard of “Ile de Vergelesses” (the “island of Vergelesses”) is so named due to the combination of country roads and antique stone walls that “isolate” it from surrounding vineyards. The red clay and limestone land here enjoys southeastern exposure and is situated only a few thousand feet from the Grand Cru-studded hill of Corton. Today’s two-barrel selection is hand-harvested from 45 to 50-year-old vines, and, despite being uncertified, the family makes every effort to farm organically. The grapes are 100% de-stemmed and fermentation is initiated by indigenous yeasts in stainless steel tanks with a once-daily punch-down (the re-introduction of skins to juice by ‘punching-down’ the ‘cap’ of skins that forms at the top of fermenting wine). The wine is then transferred into wood vessels, and other than being exposed to 10% new French oak, the entirety of the wine rests in old, neutral barrels for 12 months. It is then bottled for the market unfined and unfiltered. 

The 2022 vintage was a much needed reprieve from the challenging and very low yielding 2021, and although ‘22 was again warm and dry, it was not the same type of drought plagued, full on scorcher as 2020 or 2018, and for Etienne and his team it was rousing success—and their “Ile de Vergelesses” rockets to the front of the line. It reveals a deep ruby core with purple and pink hues moving out to the rim. The bottle erupts with black cherry blossoms and fresh violets, followed by black raspberry, red and blue plums, red currant, tea leaves, forest floor, crushed rocks, and wild herbs, all of which are underpinned by a touch of baking spice. The palate is medium-plus in body and is incredibly pure and precise, showing off lots of wild berry fruit incorporated with intense mineral components and fine-grained tannins. A beautiful rush of acidity also rounds out the finish, making this delicious young, though it is clearly capable of multi-decade aging too, so opening the bottle over the next 15 years won’t be met with any problems whatsoever! If you do pop a few bottles on the young side, decant for 30 minutes and serve in Burgundy stems—a classic pork dijonnaise popped into my head during my tasting, so follow the attached recipe to recreate this beautiful, yet simple French dish. Cheers!

2022 Domaine Etienne Delarche, Pernand-Vergelesses 1er Cru "Ile des Vergelesses"

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