Domaine Denis Bachelet

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.

Jasper Morris MW, Burgundy Wine Director and author of the award-winning Inside Burgundy comprehensive handbook.

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