Vincent Ledy in Nuits-Saint-Georges is not particularly fond of new oak. In fact, new barrels are banned from his cellar.
– I have a fear of new barrels, he says. In the beginning I didn’t use them for financial reasons. It was simply too expensive. But I am still not using any. Not even for my premier cru, the Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Porets Saint Georges.
Domaine Vincent Ledy is one of Burgundy’s really small domaines. Created in 2006 by Vincent himself after eight years at wine school in Beaune it still only covers slightly more than two hectares. There are six wines, all red, and the annual production is about 8500 bottles.
The barrels used in his cellar in the centre of Nuits-Saint-Georges have seen four wines or more before they are allowed in. He gets them from another Nuits-Saint-Georges domaine, where he used to work part-time, Domaine Lécheneaut.
– I want to avoid tannins from the oak in the wine, he explains. I have no wish to blend outside tannins with the terroir.
– Since the barrels come from there I know they are of very good quality. I know they are spotless. It is vital when you use older barrels that they have been well maintained and that they are free from bacteria.
– If my wine isn’t well-made it will show. Because there is no oak to hide behind.
Vincent Ledy describes himself as very demanding when it comes to buying vineyards. He feels it’s better to have a well-placed parcel in a lesser appellation than a not so well-placed parcel in a more well-known appellation.
– My first vintage was 2007, he says. All I had was the red Hautes-Côtes de Nuits. Then in 2008 I increased the size of the domaine a little bit. I found a very small plot for Bourgogne rouge, just 0.085 hectare. It is just opposite of the Clos de Vougeot.
This tiny parcel is just on the other side of the Beaune-Dijon road. The soil is clay, deep clay.
– It shows in the character of the wine, says Vincent Ledy. Much black fruit. Blackcurrant is the dominating character of this parcel. It’s the same every vintage. Compared with the Bourgogne Hautes-Côtes de Nuits it is very different. The Hautes-Côtes is more about cherry flavours. The maximum yield for the regional appellations is 58 hl/ha, but the yield for my Bourgogne rouge is 50 hl/ha.
– In 2009 I got my first village appellation vines. Two parcels in Savigny-lès-Beaune, below the premier cru Les Lavières. One is in Les Connardises and one in Les Petits Liards. About two thirds of the cuvée come from Les Connardises and one third from Les Petits Liards. The soil is clay and limestone, but with more clay. In Les Petits Liards the soil is more premier cru-like with small stones. In Les Connardises there is not much limestone. Les Connardises was planted in 1939 and the yield is very low. Les Petits Liards was planted in 1954.
Two years on, in 2011, 0.35 hectare of Chorey-lès-Beaune was added. The vines are located in Les Beaumonts, which together with Les Ratosses are the only Chorey-lès-Beaune lieux-dits west of the Beaune-Dijon road. You will find the majority of the Côte d’Or vineyards west of the road. Chorey-lès-Beaune is an exception, like parts of Gevrey-Chambertin.
Vincent Ledy’s parents were not winegrowers, but his grandfather was and his uncle is Alain Michelot of the domaine of the same name. Domaine Vincent Ledy had to be created from scratch, something which is far from easy with today’s land prices in Burgundy. His first three vintages were made back home in his garage. He has his half hectare of Nuits-Saint-Georges premier cru, but says he can only dream of having Chambolle-Musigny, Vosne-Romanée or a grand cru.
Instead, he has had his mind set on finding the best plots up in the Hautes-Côtes. As he points out, it is a very large appellation and there are parts where conditions are far from ideal.
– In the Hautes-Côtes de Nuits I’m in the commune of Chaux, says Vincent Ledy. My vineyards are between Chaux and Villers-la-Faye. It’s mid-slope and one of the best spots on the Hautes-Côtes de Nuits. The soil is not very deep. Very close to the rock. It’s clay and limestone. I was very lucky to find it.
This far it has been only red wine for Vincent Ledy. But white is within sight. He has been planting both chardonnay and pinot gris in the Hautes-Côtes de Nuits. The first vintage is expected to be 2015. By then Domaine Vincent Ledy will cover 2.60 hectares.
– I have planted 26.45 ares of pinot gris in Chaux, he says. It’s a parcel with a lot of clay, something the pinot gris likes. Since the Hautes-Côtes is slightly cooler than the Côte de Beaune and the Côte de Nuits this will help the pinot gris to keep some of the acidity and avoid too high sugar levels. The parcel is in a sort of a corridor which is very well ventilated. The pinot gris is very sensitive to grey rot and the will help combat this.
He brought in the vines from Alsace. At this point he doesn’t know what kind of wine he will make from the pinot gris grapes. He sees a number of possibilities. Some options, like making base wine for Crémant de Bourgogne or making a Bourgogne Hautes-Côtes de Nuits rosé, don’t really appeal to him. He could make different things depending on the vintage, maybe a vendange tardivesome years. But what he would prefer is to make a white Bourgogne Hautes-Côtes de Nuits of 100 per cent pinot gris.
– At the moment I would have to label it as a vin de pays, because it is not recommended to use 100 per cent pinot gris in a Bourgogne Hautes-Côtes de Nuits. But the syndicats viticoles are trying to have that changed. So maybe when the vines begin to produce grapes I will have the right to the appellation.
© 2013 Ola Bergman