Domaine Nicolas Rossignol

France, Burgundy
http://nicolas-rossignol.com/en/home-2

Born in 1974, Nicolas represents the fifth generation of his family in Volnay (a village which seems to be populated almost entirely by families with Rossignol somewhere in the name). He started to make the wines of his 'Rossignol-Jeanniard' family domaine when he was just twenty.

After studies at the Lycée viticole in Beaune, he worked with Joseph Voillot in Volnay, who became a mentor to him, for Louis Latour at their estate in the Ardèche, and for Vieux Télégraphe on Châteauneuf, where he loved the combination of richness and elegance in the wines, which influenced the style of wines he would later want to make himself. He also made wine in Boschendal in South Africa, and for Château la Cardonne in Bordeaux (then managed by the Lafite team).

In 1997, Nico started his own domaine with three hectares of vines inherited from an uncle. After a period in which some of the wines he made were labelled 'Domaine Rossignol-Jeanniard', and some 'Domaine Nicolas Rossignol', he began to buy the fruit from his (Rossignol-Jeanniard) family, and label these simply 'Nicolas Rossignol' (without the 'domaine'). Now the vines (all 16 hectares) are finally in the 'Domaine Nicolas Rossignol', and labelled as such. To handle this sizeable domaine, Nico needed a new winery. Having started with a chaotic assemblage of tanks in a building in the village of Volnay, he had moved to share Ben Leroux's winery on the Beaune ring road, but Nico had dreams of his own place and built his impressive new winery in 2016. A fantastic bespoke build, admittedly in a ZI (Zone Industrielle) on the outskirts of Beaune, which he recognises is not ideal for the 'folklore' aspect, it is a perfect tool for the job, and does have a good view of all 'his' bits of the Côte - from a sort of eyrie on the roof.

Like many Burgundy domaines, the appellations have proliferated as the surface area of the vineyard has increased with lots of little (and some quite large) parcels of vines in Aloxe ('village'), Savigny ('village' and two Premiers Crus), Beaune (three Premiers Crus), Pernand ('village' and one Premier Cru), Pommard (three 'village' wines and six Premiers Crus) and Volnay ('village' and seven Premiers Crus). With two cuvées of Bourgogne Rouge, this adds up to twenty-eight different wines. Like Burgundy more generally, the joy of tasting here is recognising the individual character of each plot, modulated by the conditions of the vintage, of course, but each with their own distinct personality

The viticulture of the domaine is inspired by biodynamics, but Nico is pragmatic, and although no weedkillers are used and the vineyards are maintained by ploughing, he says that there are both good and bad things in biodynamics, and he will use conventional fungicides to combat disease. At harvest time the grapes are picked into eight kilo boxes, and transported to the winery in them to minimise handling. They are then carefully sorted, before either being de-stemmed (but with the berries left intact) before being put in the fermentation vat, or put in directly as whole bunches. Nico uses varying proportions of whole bunch fermentation depending on the type of wine each vineyard gives, and of course on the health and 'ripeness' of the stems. A classic fermentation using the natural yeats on the grapes ensues, with punchdowns (pigeage) and pumpovers (remontage) used to extract flavour from the grapes, or to oxygenate the wine and refine its structure - the amount used judged by tastings throughout the process. After the vatting the free-run juice is separated from the pressed juice - the latter being blended back as required if necessary after tasting. The wine is put into barrel by gravity (with the amount of new wood between 0 and 50%), and aged for between ten and twenty months depending on the wine and the vintage, always on the lees without racking. The wood and the amount of heat used in making the barrels is also modulated for each wine. The malolactic fermentation is delayed for six months to increase aromatic complexity and structure to the wines. At the end of the ageing the wines are racked and blended in tank, before bottling without fining or filtration.

Nicolas makes deeply-coloured, flavourful wines. He is always keen to rubbish the generalisation that Pommard makes structured 'masculine' wines, as opposed to Volnay's supposedly 'feminine' ones, and proves his point with Pommards grown on clay and Volnays like his punchily structured 'Ronceret'. Each wine is very site-specific. Great winemaking here from a domaine that is really hitting its stride after many years of disappointing yields caused by hail and frost.

(Nicolas)...is garrulous, erudite and passionate when talking about wine, always armed with the insider’s gossip about what is really going on in Burgundy. More importantly, I rate him as a superb winemaker... Neal Martin, www.robertparker.com (Jan 2019)