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2013 Gevrey-Chambertin, Les Cazetiers, 1er Cru, Joseph Drouhin
Originally from the Yonne department, Joseph Drouhin founded the négociant company which bears his name in 1880. His son Maurice took over in 1918, buying the first vineyards including the famous Beaune Clos des Mouches. It took him a while to put this together, since he had to buy the plots piecemeal from many different owners.
Maurice Drouhin was a significant personality in Beaune, sitting on the INAO committee and acting as deputy administrator of the Hospices de Beaune, including during the troubled period of World War II. He also had distribution rights for a good proportion of Domaine de la Romanée Conti’s production, though unfortunately was not able to take up the offer to buy the share of the business which subsequently went to Leroy.
His successor was his nephew and adopted heir Robert Jeausset-Drouhin who took charge in 1957. Robert Drouhin now retains a surveillance role while his children Frédéric (managing director), Laurent (export markets), Philippe (vineyards) and Véronique (oenology and Domaine Drouhin Oregon) run the business. Philippe Drouhin manages the vineyards biodynamically and from the 2009 vintage the entire holdings, including Chablis, will have ECOCERT organic certification.
Long-time oenologist Laurence Jobard, engaged by Robert Drouhin in 1973, retired after the 2005 vintage and was replaced by Jérome Faure-Brac, a trained oenologist previously with Bichot, while Véronique Drouhin remains on hand to provide continuity of style.
The Drouhins purchase their own wood which is then air-dried for three years before being turned into barrels by the François cooperage. It is rare for more than 30 per cent of new wood to be used on any cuvée, excepting some grands crus. The barrels are all bar-coded to show the provenance of the wood and provide an audit trail of which wines they have been used for.
The red wines are pre-macerated at 13-15º/55-59ºF, with a very light punching down at the start followed by alternating punching down and pumping over, depending also on the needs of the vintage. The aim is to privilege the fruit in the wine, and to this end bottling is earlier than for most producers. Some wines are bottled before the next harvest while the remainder are racked out of barrel in the autumn for bottling during the winter months.
Originally white grapes were mixed in with the reds in the vineyards, but they are subject to different disease pressures, especially since the arrival of oidium in the mid-19th century: oidium attacks white grapes much more than red. At some point Maurice Drouhin hit on the idea of planting a separate block of white grapes – mostly Chardonnay but some Pinot Gris – so that they could be treated appropriately, even though usually they would then be picked at the same time as the reds and vinified together as was traditional.
One year the whites were not ripe so he picked them later, vinified them separately, and really liked the result – hence the origin of a white Beaune Clos des Mouches. Today the white grapes are almost all Chardonnay. There is no particular logic to the planting of red or white grapes, the plots forming a mosaic – rather than, for example, the top of the vineyard being used for one colour and the bottom for another. Blocks are replanted according to their previous occupancy.
Jasper Morris MW, Burgundy Wine Director and author of the award-winning Inside Burgundy comprehensive handbook.
Pinot Noir is probably the most frustrating, and at times infuriating, wine grape in the world. However when it is successful, it can produce some of the most sublime wines known to man. This thin-skinned grape which grows in small, tight bunches performs well on well-drained, deepish limestone based subsoils as are found on Burgundy's Côte d'Or.
Pinot Noir is more susceptible than other varieties to over cropping - concentration and varietal character disappear rapidly if yields are excessive and yields as little as 25hl/ha are the norm for some climats of the Côte d`Or.
Because of the thinness of the skins, Pinot Noir wines are lighter in colour, body and tannins. However the best wines have grip, complexity and an intensity of fruit seldom found in wine from other grapes. Young Pinot Noir can smell almost sweet, redolent with freshly crushed raspberries, cherries and redcurrants. When mature, the best wines develop a sensuous, silky mouth feel with the fruit flavours deepening and gamey "sous-bois" nuances emerging.
The best examples are still found in Burgundy, although Pinot Noir`s key role in Champagne should not be forgotten. It is grown throughout the world with notable success in the Carneros and Russian River Valley districts of California, and the Martinborough and Central Otago regions of New Zealand.
Gevrey-Chambertin is the largest wine-producing village in Burgundy’s Côte d'Or, with its vineyards spilling over into the next door commune of Brochon.
Located in the far north of the Côtes de Nuits above Morey-St Denis, classic Gevrey-Chambertin is typically deeper in colour, firmer in body and more tannic in structure than most red Burgundy. The best can develop into the richest, most complete and long-lived Pinot Noir in the world. This is largely thanks to the iron-rich clay soils, though much depends on whether the vineyard is located on either the steeper slopes (Evocelles, Clos St Jacques) or the flatter, richer soils (Clos Prieur, Combottes).
Whereas in the past there have been numerous underperformers in Gevrey-Chambertin exploiting the reputation of this famous village and its iconic Grands Crus, today there are many fine sources to choose from, and overall quality is higher than ever.
Gevrey-Chambertin’s greatest Grand Cru is named after the field of the monk Bertin (Champ de Bertin). In 1847, Gevrey appended the name of this illustrious vineyard, Chambertin, setting a trend for the other principle villages to follow. Le Chambertin may not be quite as sumptuous as Musigny or Richebourg, or as divinely elegant as La Tâche or Romanée-St Vivant, but it is matched only by the legendary Romanée-Conti for completeness and luscious intensity.
In all, Gevrey boasts an impressive nine Grands Crus, with the name of Chambertin retaining a regal omnipresence throughout its finest vineyard names. The other truly great Grand Cru is Chambertin-Clos de Bèze which has the right to sell its wines simply as ‘Chambertin’, and is the only wine allowed to put the Chambertin name before, rather than after, its own. Situated slightly further up the hill, the wines are fractionally less powerful yet full of sensual charm and finesse.
Quality-wise the next best are generally acknowledged to be Mazis-Chambertin and Latricières-Chambertin. The former is incredibly concentrated and very fine, but its structure is a little less firm than Le Chambertin. Latricières is less about power (although it can be explosively fruity) and more about an entrancing silkiness.
Situated slightly higher up the slope, Ruchottes-Chambertin is impressively rich, stylish and slightly angular. The tiny Griottes-Chambertin, which owes its name to the grill-pan shape of the vineyard rather than the wine’s griotte cherry aroma, is lower down the slope and boasts a velvety texture and rich fruit reminiscent of Chambertin itself. It is generally better than the lighter, although wonderfully fragrant Chapelle-Chambertin and Gevrey’s largest Grand Cru, the pure and seductive (if variable) Charmes-Chambertin.
Gevrey also has some outstanding Premier Crus on the south-east-facing slopes above the town. Les Cazetiers and especially Clos St Jacques produce some exceptional wines. Indeed Armand Rousseau, who pioneered domaine bottling here in the 1930s and is still one of the region’s very best producers, often sells his Clos St Jacques for more than several of his Grand Crus.
Drinking dates for these wines vary, but Grand Crus are generally best from at least 10 to 25 years, Premier Crus from eight to 20 years, and village wines from five to 12 years.
- 315 hectares of village Gevrey Chambertin
- 84 hectares of Premier Cru vineyards (20 in all). The foremost vineyards include Clos St Jacques, Lavaux St Jacques, Combottes, Corbeaux, Cherbaudes, Cazetiers.
- 55 hectares of Grand Cru vineyards: Chambertin, Chambertin Clos de Bèze, Latricières-Chambertin, Ruchottes-Chambertin, Mazis-Chambertin, Charmes-Chambertin, Mazoyères-Chambertin, Chapelle-Chambertin, Griottes-Chambertin..
- Recommended producers: Bachelet, Dugat, Esmonin, Mortet, Rossignol Trapet, Rousseau, Serafin, Bernstein
- Recommended restaurants : Chez Guy (good wine list), Rôtisserie du Chambertin (and Bistro)