2016 Gevrey-Chambertin, Les Platières, Domaine Guyon, Burgundy
About this WINE
The excellent Domaine Guyon in Vosne Romanée has been below most people’s radar – perhaps because Jean-Pierre Guyon spends as much of his time as possible out in the vineyards, which have been farmed organically since 2006, certified from 2012. This is a hugely exciting addition to the Berry Bros. & Rudd range, the wines wowed Jasper Morris MW when he first discovered them. The wines are extraordinarily good, yet are priced very sensibly indeed, a winning combination.
With his high pedigree viticulture as a great starting point, Jean-Pierre can employ whole bunch fermentation as the stalks are ripe, eschewing the use of sulphur at this stage (though some is added later during elevage and at bottling to assure stability). Another point of Guyon’s meticulous care is the use of a vertical press before the juice goes to barrel for 12 months, before racking into older wood for a final six months maturation.
This range of wines is hugely impressive, from the simple Bourgogne Rouge up to the Grand Crus. Finding high quality Vosne Romanée at this pricing level is a rare thing indeed.
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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A blend of three parcels of vines between 80 and 90 years old, there is great density here, with abundant griotte cherry and a wild, almost garrigue-like spice. The mid-palate is full and creamy, while brisk acidity and peppery tannins keep everything in check. Drink 2020-2028.
Adam Bruntlett, Wine Buyer
This excellent domaine in Vosne-Romanée has flown under the radar – perhaps because Jean-Pierre Guyon spends so much of his time out in the vineyards, which have been farmed organically since 2006, certified from 2012. With his high-pedigree viticulture as a great starting point, Jean-Pierre can employ whole-bunch fermentation as the stalks are ripe, eschewing the use of sulphur at this stage, though some is added during élevage and at bottling to assure stability. Despite obvious frustration at the small volumes, Jean-Pierre Guyon is delighted with the quality of his 2016s. He describes it as a vintage of great Pinot Noir typicity, which will be greater than 2015, explaining that the wines' saline character will have you reaching for the next glass. As ever, the grapes here were picked a touch later than many estates to ensure the stems were fully ripe. He only bought six new barrels for the entire 2016 crop, so the proportion of new oak is reduced.
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