Winery Profile: DOMAINE ROBLET MONNOT

ROBLET MONNOT is the domaine of Pascal Roblet who is the 14th generation of his family to earn his living as a vigneron (grape grower) in Volnay. He says that for all of his memory (and, to his knowledge, for long before he was born), his family has farmed using organic principles with no pesticides or weed killers or other chemicals. In 1997 he converted from organic farming to biodynamics and since then has been a strict follower of the lunar calendar, even holding up shipping a container so as to be able to bottle at the correct phase of the moon.

PascalRobletCellarThe vineyards are in and around the three contiguous Cote de Beaune appellations of Pommard, Volnay, and Meursault. Roblet has been gradually replanting the domaine with most of his new planting at the very high density of 12,000 vine per hectare. In most of Burgundy, 5,000 vines per hectare is considered normal and 10,000 is considered high density. 12,000 is borderline fanatical.

While all the vineyards (which are among the most pristine in Burgundy) are in Pommard, Volnay (mostly), and Meursault, the actual winery is across the highway (and across the tracks) in Bligny-les-Beaune. Roblet does most of his vineyard and winery work with the help of just one assistant although he does have to hire pickers at the harvest.

The very high quality fruit he grows is brought into the winery where it is processed into tanks for a 2-3 day, pre-fermentation maceration (cold soak). No stems are used except for the ripest vintages of from the Volnay-Piture vineyard. All the other plots are fully de-stemmed. The fermentations are in these same open top tanks, most of which are temperature controlled stainless steel with a couple of wooden (oak) tanks. Cap management is by pigeage (punching down) and the wines generally get a 2-3 day cold soak before the alcoholic fermentation is allowed to start. Fermentations start naturally with indigenous yeasts and malo-lactic fermentation (in barrels) occurs naturally using the native lacto-bacillus bacteria.

The wines are aged in light toast, 30-month air-dried, all French oak barrels from one cooper (Chassin). The use of new barrels is carefully restrained to allow the purity and complexity of the fruit and the character of the sites to show through in the finished wines. The aged wines are racked only once about four weeks before bottling and that racking is from barrel to tank for the assemblage. This very protective, non-oxidative treatment is only possible because of the very high quality of the grapes produced by meticulous, very clean farming and the resulting healthy lees.

It is one thing to detail all this technique and another to taste the wines. The proof of concept is in the tasting and on that score Pascal Poblet has nothing to worry about. My notes are below. All of these wines are highly recommended.

RobletMonnotBourgogneROBLET MONNOT Pinot Noir, Bourgogne Rouge Vielles Vignes, 2010 ($27.89)
Tech: 13% Alcohol. 100% Pinot Noir – half from the area of Volnay and half from the area of Pommard – all grown more on clay than limestone planted to 12,000 vines/hectare. Aged 18 months in a mix of second, third, and fourth use barrels (some of which are 300-liter barrels rather than the standard 225-liter barrels). Sensory: Red in color with well formed legs; dry, medium-bodied with fresh acidity and medium phenolics. Offers classic red fruit and minerals with hints of cola, earth, and darker floral. Tastes like where it is from which is the lower areas near Pommard and Volnay. Classic domaine-level Bourgogne rouge. Yum. BS: 90+.

ROBLET MONNOT Bourgogne Rouge Vielles Vignes, 2011 (Coming Soon)
Tech: 13% Alcohol. 100% Pinot Noir – half from the area of Volnay and half from the area of Pommard – all grown more on clay than limestone planted to 12,000 vines/hectare. 100% de-stemmed and aged 18 months in a mix of second, third, and fourth use barrels (some of which are 300-liter barrels rather than the standard 225L). Sensory: Red in color with well formed legs; dry, medium-bodied with balanced acidity and medium phenolics. Supple, fresh, red fruit and cola Pinot offering some darker earth and seasoned oak. Fine basic Cote d’Or-area Pinot. BS: 89+.

ROBLET MONNOT Volnay “St. François,” 2009 ($59.84)
Tech: 13% Alcohol. (“St. François” is a proprietary name for this cuvee; it is not a lieu dit.) 100% Pinot Noir, 2/3 is from the 1er cru Robardelle and Mitans vineyards along with (in this vintage) some Pitures with very mixed terroirs (marl, different colors of limestone, clay, small stones with clay and limestone mix, etc.) across the total of 10 parcels used. Aged 24 months in French oak barrels (30% new). Sensory: Red in color with well formed legs; dry, medium-light-bodied with fresh acidity and medium-phenolics. Vividly red fruit with dark spice and black pepper, cola and an indeterminate mineral earthiness. Fresh and focused and alive in the mouth. Pure. Tastes as it should – which is to say like Volnay. BS: 91+.

ROBLET MONNOT Volnay “Saint Francois,” Volnay, 2011 (Coming Soon)
Tech: 13% Alcohol. 100% Pinot Noir, 2/3 is from the 1er cru Robardelle and Mitans vineyards along with some Pitures with very mixed terroirs (marl, different colors of limestone, clay, small stones with clay and limestone mix) across the total of 10 parcels used. 100% destemmed prior to fermentation in open tops with pump[ overs and aged 24 months in French oak barrels (30% new). Sensory: red in color with well formed legs; dry and medium-bodied with fresh acidity and medium phenolics. Fresh and focused. Lots of simple red fruit with a bit of cola and lots of dusty limestone mineral. Precise, pure Volnay in an elegant style. BS: 90+.

ROBLET MONNOT Volnay Santenots 1er cru, 2009 ($86.89)
Tech: 13% Alcohol. 100% Pinot Noir from 6 vineyards located in northern Meursault (as the red wine from that part of Meursault is generally – and legally – sold as Volnay). planted at 12,000 vines/hectare. Aged 24 months in all French oak barrels (30% new). Sensory: Red in color with well formed legs; dry, medium-light-bodied with freshly-balanced acidity and medium phenolics. In reality, this is red Meursault … but it sure tastes like fine Volnay. Classic power and perfume with red fruit and spice, cola and mineral. Yum. BS: 93.

ROBLET MONNOT Volnay Santenots 1er cru2010 (Coming Soon)
Tech: 13% Alcohol. 100% Pinot Noir from 6 vineyards located in northern Meursault (as the red wine from that part of Meursault is generally – and legally – sold as Volnay). planted at 12,000 vines/hectare. Aged 24 months in all French oak barrels (20% new). Red in color with well formed legs; dry, medium-light-bodied with freshly-balanced acidity and medium phenolics. Again, this is red Meursault. Richer and a bit riper with a softer texture. where the 2009 is more focused, this is more open and easier to get at. Lovely in the mouth with a bit more richness and a bit less nerve. Delicious. BS: 93.

ROBLET MONNOT Volnay Brouillards 1er cru, 2010 (Coming Soon)
Tech: 13% Alcohol. 100% Pinot Noir Les Brouillards is a 5.6 hectare vineyard located on the most eastern side of Volnay. This plot is on a plateau where the terroir is more limestone soils. . Vines planted in 1980 and 1982. High-density planting (12,000 vines/hectare). Aged 24 months in French oak barrels (20% new). Sensory: Red-magenta in color with well formed legs; dry, medium-bodied with freshly-balanced acidity and medium-plus phenolics. Subtle, ripe, more mineral, great red fruit. Has some chewiness and a nice bit of richness. Hints at dark floral and cola. Delicious and easy to like. BS: 94+.

ROBLET MONNOT Volnay Taillepieds 1er cru, 2010 ($106.89)
Tech: 13% Alcohol. 100% Pinot Noir. Taillepieds is a 7.16 hectare vineyard on the southwestern side of Volnay. The terroir is large stones at the surface with clay and limestone blow. Planted at 12,000 vines/hectare. Aged 18 months in second use barrels. Sensory: Red in color with well formed legs; dry, medium-bodied with freshly-balanced acidity and medium-plus phenolics. Great mix of elegant red fruit and mineral. Elegant but with richness and a nice bit of weight. Lovely note of spice. Hnts at the exotic. BS: 96.

ROBLET MONNOT Pommard Arvelets 1er Cru, 2009 ($93.99)
Tech: 13% Alcohol. 100% Pinot Noir. Les Arvelets is a fairly steep, south-facing 8.45 hectare vineyard located in the northeastern portion of Pommard. Aged 24 months in French oak barrels (20% new). Sensory: Red in color with well formed legs; dry, medium-light-bodied with freshly balanced acidity and medium-chewy phenolics. Supple, earthy-minerally with darker red fruit and nuance of cola and darker spices with a dark floral perfume. BS: 92+.

ROBLET MONNOT Pommard Arvelets 1er cru, 2010 ($93.99)
Tech: 13% Alcohol. 100% Pinot Noir. Les Arvelets is a fairly steep, south-facing 8.45 hectare vineyard located in the northeastern portion of Pommard. Aged 24 months in French oak barrels (20% new). Sensory: red-purple in color with well formed legs; dry, medium-light-bodied with freshly balanced acidity and medium-plus phenolics. Supple, exotic dark red cherry and raspberry fruit with dusty oak, dark spice and Dark Floral. Vivid, mineral, alive, delicious. BS: 94+.

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