2016 Gevrey-Chambertin, Vieilles Vignes, Domaine Dugat-Py, Burgundy
Neal Martin - 29/12/2017
About this WINE
Dugat-Py is a high class Gevrey-Chambertin Domaine that has risen to prominence in the last 10 years. It was run for many years by Pierre Dugat and, astonishingly, only began estate bottling in 1989. It is now run by Pierre's son Bernard, who is recognised as one of the shrewdest winemakers on the Côte. The Domaine consists of 5 hectares of vineyards and includes holdings in several Premiers Crus sites and 3 Grands Crus. Bernard Dugat-Py, wife Joscelyne and son Loïc, are based at the Aulmônerie, whose cellars were constructed in the 12th century to store wine for the Abbey of St Benigné in Dijon. With rapturous praise emanating especially from across the Atlantic, this is perhaps even more of a cult domaine than that of Bernard’s cousin Claude Dugat. I was a little sceptical, having tasted some wines at then years old which seemed to have dried out, making me fear over extraction. However a visit to the domaine in November 2009 changed my thinking.
The key to the success is in the vineyard with exceptionally meticulous control of the work, there being five people working full time on 10 hectares. The vines are for the most part extremely old, averaging 65 years old across the domaine, and all the trimming is done by hand, while a horse is used to plough a few of the vineyards. Replanting is done with selections from their own vine stock, never with clones. The domaine has been fully organic since 2003 while son Loïc has been doing some biodynamic work with consultant Paul Masson. The wines are vinified with as little intervention as possible and are bottled unfined and unfiltered. "I don't like opulent wines; I like elegant wines", says Dugat. Consequently, the wines are concentrated, yet extremely stylish and well balanced. The wines are very approachable in youth but show at their best with 5-8 years of bottle ageing.
Contrary to some practitioners of deep-coloured wines in Gevrey-Chambertin, the grapes are picked relatively early. Stems are usually kept, depending on the vintage, though to a lesser degree for the Charmes-Chambertin whose primary fruit would be masked by the stalks. There is no cool pre-maceration, except whatever may happen naturally, one punch down and one pump over per day during fermentation in cement and wooden vats, and temperatures are not maintained after the fermentation is over. All in all, it is a low intervention regime. The wines are then matured in François Frères barrel, all new from the premiers crus upwards.
Recent expansion into the Côte de Beaune has seen the addition of Pommard and some white wines from Meursault and Chassagne-Montrachet.
Jasper Morris MW, Burgundy Wine Director and author of the award-winning Inside Burgundy comprehensive handbook.
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)
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.
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The 2016 Gevrey-Chambertin Vieilles Vignes, which comes from vines between 30 and 50 years old and matured in 30% to 40% new oak with a small amount of whole cluster, has a crisp stony, blackberry and bilberry-scented bouquet, not powerful but precise. The palate is marked by slight chalky tannin, linear and strict, full of energy with a smudge of raspberry preserve hanging around on the aftertaste. Give this Vieilles Vignes three or four years in bottle just to abrade those tannins.
Neal Martin - 29/12/2017
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