The other day I had the honor of interviewing Georgia Tsouti, who represents Domaine Michel Gros of Vosne-Romanee, Burgundy . We sat down and talked about the 2006 vintage for a few minutes and then I had the pleasure of tasting the '06 wines. I've worked with Georgia in the past so this was a great opportunity to catch up.
AL : Thanks for spending the time to sit down and talk before your tasting. Can you give me a brief background of yourself?
GT : My first harvest after completing my studies was in 1995 when I was hired as a trainee at Domaine Michel Gros. After working for the Domaine for 10 years, I decided to start my own marketing and export agency. Oenophilia was started in January 2007. For a list of domains I represent from France, Greece, and the USA, please look under the "Domaine" section of my new website - http://www.oenophilia.biz
AL : Can you give me a brief history of Domaine Michel Gros?
GT : The Gros family history starts with Alphonse Gros and his son Louis-Gustave. He was one of the first winegrowers to sell his wine in bottles directly to private customers. A price list from November 1868 lists Clos des Reas wines at 5 Francs a bottle for the 1858 vintage, 3.5 Francs for the 1861, and 2.5 for the 1854. He was also the person who bought 2 hectares of Richebourg in 1882. Over the years, various vineyards were added to the family's holdings. The holdings have been divided up over time as well, which is why there are now 4 individual Domaines bearing the name Gros in the marketplace. Michel made wine with his father Jean Gros from the time he finished his studies in 1975 until Jean retired and split up the Domaine among his children, Michel ( Domaine Michel Gros ), Anne-Francoise ( Domaine A.F. Gros ), and Bernard ( Domaine Gros Frere and Soeur ). Anne Gros is their cousin who owns Domaine Anne Gros .
AL : So what is going on with the 2006 vintage in the marketplace?
GT : It's always difficult to follow a high profile vintage such as 2005 with a good but typical Burgundian vintage. People bought a lot of 2005s at a very high price and then the economic panic happened. The 2005s arrived in the US in November of 2007 and then in March 2008 there were already barrel samples being tasted of the 2006. The barrel samples were forward and on the fruit. The 2005's went very quickly into dormancy so you can't open them now. They are closed and there is nothing to get from the nose or palate upon tasting. This makes for an awkward situation where people are demanding the wines from the big name vintage, but they can't be served right now. This is particularly difficult for the on-premise part of the trade.
Fortunately, the 06's are ready to go right now. It was a beautiful vintage with its biggest disadvantage being it came after 2005. June was perfect and warm which allowed for an even flowering. July to September was quite nice but we had quite a few rainfalls. It was a challenge to keep the grapes healthy. Michel is always checking them - spraying, pruning, green harvest. September was warm and dry which allowed for even ripening. Harvest started September 23rd. The 2006 vintage is typified by good acidity and ripe fresh fruit. The wines were bottled in August 2008 and arrived in the US in the Fall. Production of this vintage was normal at around 100,000 bottles.
The '06 vintage has not yet gone into dormancy and may not experience a dormancy period, similar to the 2000 vintage. They are not at that point yet, so we do not know for sure, so we will have to wait and see. These wines in all parts of the world will be different due to climate, storage, transportation, and the local atmospheric conditions. My recommendation is that you should buy 6 bottles of a wine, so you can drink them when they are ready for you. It's up to you to decide when to drink them as the wines in different situations age differently.
The Villages level and Haut-Cotes-de-Nuit wines are ready to drink now. Michel uses a custom extra heavy toasted barrel which gives the wines their unique smokiness. During production, all the wines are treated exactly the same to allow the vineyard differences to stand out. The exception is that the Bourgogne and HCDN wines are aged in large barriques for the first 6 months until they are done with the malolactic fermentation when they are transferred to oak barrels. This set of wines do not see any new oak either.
AL : What can you compare this vintage to?
GT : I don't like to compare vintages. To me, it is like comparing a child to a grand-father and saying one looks like the other or behaves like the other. One aspect may be true, but it doesn't capture the whole picture.
AL : The Domaine grows a couple of very unique wines, can you tell me about those?
GT : Clos Vougeout, Grand Cru - Michel's father bought him a parcel of Clos Vougeout when he was 10 years old. At the time, Michel was disappointed because he wanted a bicycle.
Vosne-Romanee 1er Cru, Clos des Reas - This vineyard is wholly owned by Domaine Michel Gros which gives them the right to label it as a monopole. Alpohse Gros bought the vineyard in 1860. When the family's holdings were divided up, it was very important to Michel that Clos des Reas maintained its monopole status. He is the only Gros without a slice of Richebourg because of this.
Bourgogne Haut-Cotes-de-Nuit Rouge - these grapes come from the slopes up over the back of the "Cote." These vines are 200 meters higher in elevation than most vineyards in the appellation and are actually planted in the middle of the woods. Wild boar and other animals mingle with the vines. A traditional dish with the HCDN Rouge is a wild boar stew.
AL : What interesting pairings have you found with the Michel Gros wines?
GT : The Domaine works a lot in Asia and has great success pairing the wines with seafood and fish dishes from these cuisines. Red Burgundy works because of the acidity and minerality in the wines. This comes from the limestone soils.
AL : What is drinking well right now?
GT : First, I can only speak for the wines from Domaine Michel Gros. Each Domaine in Burgundy is different.
2006 - Villages level wines are ready to drink now
2005 - Closed, do not drink
2004 - It is a supple vintage with early development and soft tannins. You can drink it now.
2003 - Open, but strong and full-flavored still. This is the "exotic" or "Californian" vintage in Burgundy and is not typical.
2002 - Just starting to open up, but needs more time
2001 - Forget it for now. Wait and see what happens.
2000 - Drink now, don't keep it much longer.
1999 - Drink now or Still wait
1998 - Drink now or Still wait
1997 - Drink now
1996 - Perfect ripeness with high acidity. When I tasted these in 2006, they were not ready yet. But I do not know right now.
1995 - Drink now
1994 - Drink now
1993 & 1991 - For me, two of the most beautiful vintages with amazing strength. Drink now
1992 - Soft and past prime
1990 - A big vintage
AL : Thanks for spending the time to speak with me, Georgia.
Snooth interviews Georgia Tsouti of Domaine Michel Gros, Vosne-Romanee, Burgundy
- Reply by Netminder1, Mar 15, 2010.
Had some 06 Vosene Romanee last night. Magnificent!