DOMAINE NICOLAS ROSSIGNOL
Located just off the centre of Beaune you will find the new winemaking and cellaring facility of Nicolas Rossignol; a place which he shares with another brilliant winemaker Benjamin Leroux, the former winemaker of Comte Armand. He was previously making wines from his cuverie in Volnay but due to the lack of space as he expanded his vineyard exploitations, he moved to the current location in 2011 so that it could bring his winemaking operations under one roof which he felt made a material contribution to the quality of his wines.
Nicolas Rossignol born in 1974, comes from a family who have been making wines for 5 generations in Volnay. After technical training acquired at the Lycée de Beaune Wine between 1989 and 1994, he put into practice knowledge acquired during different stages as the Volnay Domaine Joseph Voillot or Domaine du Vieux Telegraph in Chateauneuf du Pape, and began the vinification for the family Domaine Rossignol Jeanniard.
Today, he exploits 16ha with most of the production concentrated in the vineyards of Pommard and Volnay. Farming practices are simple and tend to balance and respect the land. He ploughs the soils instead of using weed-killers and the pruning is done later in the winter according to the lunar calendar, everything is done to get healthy and ripe grapes. The use of chemical treatment products are kept to a minimum and according to the pressure of the year. For the vines that he rents, he makes sure that the grapes are cultivated according to his specifications and he does this by paying a fixed rent for the vineyard instead of paying for the grapes. This can be quite an economic risk as Volnay and Pommard have been hailed for 3 consecutive years in 2012 to 2014 and production was drastically reduced.
Nicolas can also be considered quite "anti-establishment" because while he tries to be as "organic" as possible, he will employ chemicals to treat the vineyards if he feels that it is more effective than applying organic treatment repeatedly. He argues that it a wine is not necessarily good just because it is organic and in vintages where rot pressure are prevalent throughout the growing season such as in 2011, he questions whether it is better to treat the vineyards over twenty times a season with organic preparations when the vines can be protected from rot with just a few passes through the vineyards using chemicals.
When it comes to the use of stems in winemaking, Nicholas' approach is one of careful choice. Depending on the ripeness of the vintage, the quality of the grapes and its origins, Nicolas may elect to use 100% whole bunches or none at all, but very often he uses some stems in his vats as it can add to the aromatic complexity. However, for certain cuvees he will not use any stems because the vineyard simply cannot ripen the stems adequately. In the cellar, he follows the lunar calendar for major activities such as racking and bottling and in the 2012 vintage, he did age his wines using new oak preferring instead to focus on the wines purity and elegance.
Another interesting facet about Nicolas is that he believes that Pommard does not always have to be masculine and rustic and conversely, Volnay has to be feminine and elegant. It is more complicated than that he says and he proves the point by showing you in his cellars that his Pommards can be very refined and elegant and some his Volnays can be quite broad shouldered. He claims that it all depends on the soil and it is too easy for people to generalize and assume.
Listening to his these views about winemaking shows that Nicolas is one who is very in tune with his vineyards and will not hesitate to break from convention if he believes that it will produce better wines and he has made some truly stunning wines since 2008 and his reputation is grown rapidly and he has caught the attention of many influential wine critics.
At this address, the wines here are powerful and silky at the same time with dark fruit aromas of cherries and black berries. The aromas are bold and effusive but never overpowering. The wines are balanced and there is a sense of inner energy in them. These are by no means blockbuster wines that knocks your socks off. But they convey another facet of Burgundy which is masculine but not at all clumsy.