A moment with Domaine de la Vougeraie
Author: Charlie Geoghegan
Sylvie Poillot leads the team at Domaine de la Vougeraie, whose vineyards run the length of the Côte d’Or. She tells us what it takes to run such an intricate operation.
Domaine de la Vougeraie was established in 1999 by négociant Jean-Claude Boisset, bringing together three decades’ worth of vineyard acquisitions across the Côte d’Or. Today, the domaine extends over 42 hectares, with holdings in no less than nine Grand Crus. “It’s a big estate,” says Sylvie Poillot, General Manager and leader of the winemaking team, “but we manage it like a family.”
Biodynamics at Vougeraie
Since its inception, the domaine has been farmed organically. Vintage 2001 saw the first steps into biodynamics; the entire estate is now biodynamic in all but certification. “It would be great for us to be certified,” Sylvie says. “The problem is that I don’t have enough time to do the paperwork!” Third-party certification aside, the estate is a model for biodynamic viticulture: it’s got its own herb garden and plants are dried on-site for biodynamic preparations. “We did the 500P [cow horn] infusion two weeks ago, and to prevent disease we spray an infusion of lavender and lemongrass.” The lunar calendar plays an important role, guiding the timing of practices in the vineyard and cellar. “We do bâtonnage (lees stirring) when the moon is ascending,” she explains, “and we try to do our tastings on fruit days, when you get more expression.”
Teamwork in the Côte d’Or
Sylvie heads up a team of 30. Her role involves day-to-day management and administration as well as winemaking, vineyard management and plenty more besides. The domaine operates a rather flat management structure with a lot of team decision-making. “We’re a little bit unusual,” she admits. “I’m the General Manager, but I work with everybody. We make decisions together.”
The domaine is expansive, with holdings running virtually the entire length of the Côte d’Or, from Gevrey-Chambertin to Chassagne-Montrachet. Two vineyard teams work in tandem: one works the Côte de Nuits from a base in Morey-Saint-Denis. The other, based in Beaune, covers the Côte de Beaune. “It requires a lot of organisation,” Sylvie says. Things get even more complex at harvest. “We have three teams for the harvest, and we organise it two months beforehand. With so many plots, maturity control is very important: it’s vital to know which parcel needs to be harvested at what time.”
The Vougeraie range
With such an enviable swathe of prized vineyards, the estate naturally produces some remarkable wines. Sylvie and the team produce 37 individual cuvées each year. “It’s not difficult, it’s just about organisation.” Among the most celebrated is the Clos Blanc de Vougeot, a Premier Cru monopole (solely owned by the domaine) producing the only white wine in Vougeot. “It’s been Chardonnay-only since the Cistercian monks planted it – nine centuries ago.” There’s also a not-insubstantial 1.052-hectare holding in the neighbouring Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru. Another notable Grand Cru is their Musigny, where they have just over 0.2 hectares. “We make three barrels in a good year.” With so many wines, has Sylvie got a favourite? “They’re like our babies,” she says, with more affection than diplomacy. “We love them all!”
Domaine de la Vougeraie’s wines are a part of our Burgundy 2019 En Primeur offer, which is now live.
Interesting article , I would like to,know who else8 is on the team. Who is the winemaker?
Thanks for your comment, Charles. I asked Adam Bruntlett, our Burgundy Buyer, and he had the below note for you. You can also read more on the domaine’s website here.
All the best,
“The domaine doesn’t have a single figurehead winemaker since Pierre Vincent was headhunted by Domaine Leflaive after the 2016 harvest. Sylvie works with a team of two young winemakers – trained oenologists. Camille Leynaud-Prince has been in post since 2015 and worked as Pierre’s assistant before he left. She is assisted by Konstantinos Kontosoros, a Greek winemaker who trained in Dijon and did work experience at Perrot-Minot and Olivier Leflaive. There’s also Jean-Luc Rousseau who is the Cellar Manager, assisted by Antoine Berland, another young oenologist who works with Camille and “Kosta” They follow the same principles established by Pierre, with frequent use of whole bunches in the reds which is adjusted according to the cuvée and vintage. That said, they do deviate from it as well so they’re not stuck to a recipe. The aim is always to make wines of precision and finesse.”