At the ripe old age of 33, standing on stage before hundreds of this country’s most passionate fans of Burgundian wines, Nicolas Rossignol was honored for his work in Volnay when Bruce Sanderson of the Wine Spectator dubbed this unassuming vigneron “Burgundy’s latest vanguard”. The crowd attending that year’s New York Wine Experience – in 2007 – would be treated to several of Rossignol’s stellar Volnays and Pommards that evening, and the rest – as they say – is history. At this year’s Grand Jours de Bourgogne, Nicolas’ booth was as crowded as ever – it would appear that good news has travelled fast.
Nicolas – not quite 40 and looking a bit like a young John Belushi – caught the wine bug about as early as one can, at the tender age of 14 alongside his grandfather. In the beginning, however, young Rossignol wasn’t quite sure that the life of a vigneron was for him. Witnessing the hardships his family endured left him skeptical – to say the least. Following his father’s advice, though and spending one year in the vines with his grandfather was all it took. Nicolas Rossignol was hooked.
Following those first years with his family, Nicolas formalized his training at the enological schools in Beaune, training at the Domaine Joseph Voillot in Volnay upon graduation. Eager to expand his vinous knowledge as well as resume, Nicolas spent additional time as assistant vigneron at such venerable estates as Louis Latour (Burgundy), Vieux Telegraphe (Chateauneuf du Pape), Boschendal (Stellenbosch) and Chateau Lafite-owned Chateau Cardonne (Bordeaux). Deeply intrigued by progressive winemaking philosophies, he studied courses in Agriculture Biologique – which he strictly employs Chez Rossignol – and is now currently looking towards certification for the Domaine.
The wine-making style Nicolas prefers can be best described as “sophisticated” – to borrow a term from Allen Meadows of Burghound, who describes these wines precisely as such. Towards producing wines of classic proportions, offering intense levels of the purist fruit as well as silky tannins and laser-focused transparency, he utilizes whole clusters during fermentation. Nicolas prefers the sweetness this method imparts to the finished wines (ala Jayer), but also stresses that this method must be avoided in vintages where the stems are not ripe – hence avoiding whole cluster fermentations in 2004 and ’07, for example. The results? Current vintages of Nicolas’ Volnays rank among the highest rated wines of their respective appellations.
Finally, it’s certainly worth noting Burghound’s most recent praise of Nicolas Rossignol’s current releases, where Meadows is quoted as referring to these offers as “truly stunning…and among the very best wines that I sampled in the Côte de Beaune.” Allen Meadows, a man not taken to flights of verbal fancy, went on to conclude for his readers, “There are several wines that are absolutely not to be missed.” And as mentioned, considering the crowded booth at this year’s Grand Jours de Bourgogne, the world has taken note.
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