2016 Gevrey-Chambertin, Vieilles Vignes, Domaine Rossignol-Trapet, Burgundy
About this WINE
Brothers Nicolas and David Rossignol have run this domaine, created by the marriage of their parents, since 1990. The range offers a fine overview of Gevrey-Chambertin terroir, capped by their three, very contrasting, Grands Crus. The Chambertin stands supreme, but a preference between Latricières and La Chapelle varies from year to year.
In the vineyard
The brothers began their move towards biodynamics in ’97 in their Chapelle-Chambertin vineyard; the whole domaine was converted by 2004. They value that status deeply; the work required in ’18 to combat the pervasive mildew was a true labour of love, with endless applications – by hand – of horsetail teas.
In the winery
Over the years, their style has defined itself: these are now relatively delicate wines, lightly extracted so never deep in colour, but built around subtle textures. Aromatics are further enhanced using about 50% whole bunches, depending on the year.
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 vines are over 60 years old, but production was down 45 percent. This is pale in colour and very subtle. It is the biodynamic way – the finesse creeps up on you. A wine you initially thought was a bit insubstantial ends up filling your mouth with perfume and unexpected intensity. Very lovely, it glides with translucent red fruit. Drink 2020-2027.
Adam Bruntlett, Wine Buyer
The domaine was created through the marriage of Jacques Rossignol of Volnay with Mado Trapet from a noted family in Gevrey-Chambertin. Their sons Nicolas and David Rossignol have managed the domaine since 1990, moving subsequently to biodynamic farming. The first experiments started in 1997 with their Chapelle- Chambertin, followed by conversion of the whole domaine in 2004. Vinification includes a small proportion of whole bunches, while the trend in recent years has been to look for an increasingly elegant expression of Pinot Noir. It’s a remarkable cellar this year, with brothers Nicolas and David radiating calm and understanding. As elsewhere, this was a very challenging vintage for them, especially in Beaune, the village Gevrey vines and Le Chambertin. Containing the mildew required an incredible amount of work by hand. Their biodynamic strategy seems to have paid off though; after a slow start to the range, the impression was of incremental qualities. Intensity, not density. Nicolas and David referred us to Nono, Love and the Soil by Gaston Roupnel, a novelist born in Gevrey.
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