Descending the stone stairs to the cellar at Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé, one is filled with a mixture of excitement and anticipation. First, there is the scent of the ‘angels’ share’ — the alcohol that has evaporated from the maturing wines as they age — and then, upon entering the cellar deep underground, come the magical aromas of maturing wine and fragrant wooden barrels.
Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé has produced some of the greatest Burgundies ever made. Its vineyards are all located in the fairytale village of Chambolle-Musigny, with 7.25 hectares dedicated to the fabled Le Musigny, 2.75 hectares to the production of Bonnes-Mares, and 1.8 hectares to the Premier Cru Chambolle-Musigny. The names alone of these vineyards are enough to make wine lovers’ hearts beat faster.
In total, Chambolle-Musigny, which is situated between Morey-Saint-Denis and Vougeot at the foot of the Cote d’Or (the Golden Slope) hills, has 179 hectares under vine — 24 hectares of Grand Cru, 61 hectares of Premier Cru, and 94 hectares village, as well as a small area of regional Bourgogne.
On 25 May Christie’s in Hong Kong offers a selection of wines directly from the reserve cellar of this legendary domaine. ‘The inception of a wine library, up from the 1990 vintage, provides the domaine and its clients with a unique collection of great bottles of the best terroirs of Chambolle, all perfectly stored,’ says Jean-Luc Pépin, sales director for Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé.
All bottles and magnums in the auction have new capsules and numbered labels, including a special back label, and are packed in new wooden cases of six bottles or three magnums.
The origins of Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé date back to the middle of the 15th century, when the first estate house and chapel of Chambolle was built by Jean Moisson. In 1766 Moisson’s descendant, Catherine Louise Bouhier de Versalieu, married Cerice François Melchior de Vogüé, bringing the vineyards in Chambolle to one of the oldest noble families in France.
Comte Georges de Vogüé inherited the estate in 1925 and ran it for more than 50 years
In 1925 Comte Georges de Vogüé inherited the estate from his father, Arthur de Vogüé, and directed the production of wine over the next half a century. Following the death of his only daughter, Elisabeth, Baronne Bertrand de Ladoucette, in 2002, Comte Georges de Vogüé’s two granddaughters, Claire de Causans and Marie de Ladoucette, took over the estate with an executive team that had been established in the late 1980s, with Eric Bourgogne as vineyard director, François Millet as cellar master, and Jean-Luc Pépin as sales director. The triumvirate has produced outstanding results, vintage upon vintage.
Francois Millet aims to achieve full expression of the exceptional terroir in his wines. He adapts to each vintage, guiding the wines during vinification to ensure that each de Vogüé wine has its own unique character, and that even the more challenging years have provided wines that stand the test of time.
Cellar master François Millet at work
The demand for these wines is extremely high, with long waiting lists for importers hoping to get an allocation as small as three bottles. With so few bottles produced each year, the auction at Christie’s in Hong Kong represents a rare opportunity for collectors to compete for these most sought-after wines.
Christie’s specialist Edwin Vos visited Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé on a number of occasions leading up to the moment when the wines left the cellar, bound for our dedicated warehouse in Hong Kong. During the course of these visits he developed a deeper understanding and respect for the estate, the vineyards and the wines.
Christie’s specialist Edwin Vos joins Francois Millet and Jean-Luc Pépin of Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé, and Anthony Hanson MW, in tasting the wines offered in the auction
‘I have had the pleasure of tasting 36 different Comte Georges de Vogüé wines, all from this auction,’ says Vos, who discussed each with François Millet and Jean-Luc Pépin. ‘To hear François, one the most talented and experienced Burgundy winemakers, talk about the wines, most which he made himself, was like stepping back in time.’
Apart from a tiny plot of First Growth Les Amoureuses and 18 per cent of the Grand Cru Bonnes-Mares, which make the domaine the biggest proprietor of this appellation, the domaine owns 70 per cent of Grand Cru Musigny.
Chambolle-Musigny les Amoureuses
Les Amoureuses is very closely related to Musigny both in style and character. The vineyard covers 5.4 hectares and is divided between 14 owners, with Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé owning 0.56 hectares, making it the third-largest owner. The de Vogüé part is located on the southern top, just above Vougeot Clos de la Perrière, and is ploughed by horses because of the stony topsoil. On average only around 160 cases per vintage leave the domaine.
From Edwin Vos’s tasting notes on the 1999: ‘Great purity of fruit, cherries and forest strawberries. Fine vanilla and subtle oak aromas. Well-balanced with depth and intensity on the nose. This is high-class.’
Edwin Vos at the entrance to the Bonnes-Mares vineyard
Driving south from Morey-Saint-Denis, the Bonnes-Mares vineyard is on the right. It begins where Clos de Tart finishes and continues until just before the village of Chambolle-Musigny. With 2.70 hectares of the 15.06 overall, Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé is by far the largest owner of this highly regarded Grand Cru vineyard.
From Edwin Vos’s tasting notes on the 1970: ‘Very nice intensity with beautiful acidity to balance the fine red fruit on the back. A beauty. This just sings on and on... A great surprise.’
The apex of the portfolio at Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé is the 7 hectares of Musigny Grand Cru. Great care is taken with the production of the noble grape, with only the oldest vines — a total of 3.8 hectares — used to produce wine with the most consistency and depth of character. In most vintages only around 900 cases of the Musigny come to market. The result is a wine to be sought out and treasured.
The history of this legendary vineyard dates back to 1110, when the Canon of Saint-Denis de Vergy gave his field in Musigné to the Cîteaux monks. The vineyard is divided into three parts: Le Musigny or Les Grands-Musigny, Les Petits-Musigny and La Combe d’ Orveaux.
Musigny is the epitome of elegance, with complex aromas that take years to truly reveal themselves. Anyone attempting to draw up a list of the top 10 wines in the world would surely have to consider a Comte de Vogüé Musigny from a great vintage.
From Edwin Vos’s tasting notes on the 1970: ‘More intensely sweet on the mid-palate, especially compared to the Bonnes-Mares 1970 which is more up-front sweet. Good intensity of red fruits with a fine acidity. Fresh and very much alive.’