Domaine de Villaine Bourgogne Rouge La Digoine 2020

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Heir to one of the most enviable wine legacies of all time, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, whose wines are some of the most sought after—and expensive!—in the wine world, the young Aubert de Villaine was more interested in literature and law than wine. After spending time in New York working for an importer of Burgundian wines, he finally returned home in the mid-nineteen sixties to assume his role as co-director of DRC. Quite famously, he served as a judge at the “Judgement of Paris” tasting in 1976—an event which generated no small amount of flak for him back in Burgundy, especially from DRC’s other co-director!

In the 1970s, Aubert and his American wife, Pamela, also sought less pedigreed pastures to call their own. The de Villaines farm three appellations within the Côte Chalonaise, namely Bouzeron (Aligoté), Rully (Chardonnay and Pinot Noir) and Mercurey (Pinot Noir). Their single-vineyard parcels are stunning examples of what this complex and amazing terroir can yield. Though their wines are quite enjoyable young, their ability to age well is what one might expect from a master such as de Villaine. Much of this is due to both the diversity of his vinestock and his organic and biodynamic methodology in the vineyards, both of which Aubert stands by with great conviction.

If “La Fortune” is the precocious youth, “La Digoine” is the refined gentleman. La Digoine is sourced from a 1.8 hectare plot of 35-40 year old vines at the foot of the slope in Bouzeron.  Fermentation is similar to La Fortune, with about two-thirds of the bunches kept whole, and is conducted in open-top wood fermenters. Again, the warmth of the vintage is apparent here through the generous fruit profile, but there is much more structure in the form of tangy acidity and fine-grained tannins. It is totally open and drinkable now, but I would get a couple to cellar to allow those structural elements to harmonize and to allow the latent smokey/savory complexities here to reveal themselves. Don’t miss.--Brian Acton

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