This minute Burgundy wine estate
, now reaching just 4ha in size of vineyards in Gevrey-Chambertin
, has been run almost single-handedly by the magical Denis Bachelet
since 1983. His ability for making pure, graceful wines seems to be entirely natural and he exploits this gift to the full.
Denis was born in 1963 in the town of Spy in Belgium – his father had fallen in love with a local girl when he came to visit Spy on an outing with the Gevrey Chambertin choir! Denis would visit his grandparents in Gevrey in the school holidays and came to love the magic of the vigneron’s world. He became fully involved in winemaking from 1981, shortly after his grandfather’s death: whether fortuitously or not the Bachelet wines were outstanding in ’81, an otherwise damp and difficult vintage, and the Charmes Chambertin remained a joy to drink over the following fifteen years.
“La finesse avant tout” – finesse before all things – is Denis Bachelet’s watchword and this shows in every wine he makes. There is more attention paid to yields in the vineyard, a better selection of barrels in the cellar (about one third new oak for the Gevrey Chambertin and 50% for the crus), and a feeling of a man in control of his wines and winery.
Denis of course believes that the quality of the wine comes from his work in the vineyard, which now includes green harvesting whenever a patch of vines threatens to set too heavy a crop. At harvest time the grapes are sorted in the vineyard to remove anything rotten or otherwise dubious, and from 2003 a further triage has been carried out on a new vibrating sorting table.
The grapes are 100% destemmed, then crushed which Denis prefers for colour extraction. After a cool pre-fermentation maceration for up to a week, the vats get to work fermenting the juice with natural yeasts fermentation. As soon as fermentation has finished the contents of the vats are pressed off and left to settle in tank for a week before putting in barrel. Simple but sensible winemaking, amended according to intuition if need be.
Charmes Chambertin, Grand Cru, 0.44
Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru les Corbeaux, 0.28
Gevrey Chambertin 0.94
Côte de Nuits Villages 0.35
Gevrey Chambertin vieilles vignes
Sourced from several plots of old vines in such vineyards as La Burie (planted 1920), Champerriers (1930s) and La Platière (1950). The fruit always dominates the tannins.
Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru Les Corbeaux
In the early years this cuvée seemed little better than the village Gevrey Chambertin, but Denis has licked the vineyard into shape, managed to buy a few more rows of vines in the late 1990s and now this wine takes its rightful place in the cellar.
Charmes Chambertin vieilles vignes
Located in the upper, and better, part of the vineyard. It was planted by his great aunt in the 1920’s, occasionally assisted by her younger sister, Denis’ grandmother. Since then individual dead vines have been replaced, a few percent a year, so not every vine is ancient – but overall Denis has the benefit of old vines with their deep root systems and more miserly yields of concentrated, flavoursome grapes. A youthful Bachelet Charmes may show an intense deep purple colour but is never black. The fruit blossoms on the nose but new wood is never much in evidence. There is a haunting enchantingly perfumed quality to the fruit.