2017 Gevrey-Chambertin, La Combe aux Moines, 1er Cru, Domaine Faiveley, Burgundy
About this WINE
Domaine Joseph Faiveley
Domaine Faiveley is one of the biggest domaines (115ha) in Burgundy and, many would argue, one of the best.
This illustrious company has been based in Nuits St Georges since the days of Pierre Faiveley who founded the business in 1825. His son Joseph gave his name to the family business, to be followed by the first François, Georges who was instrumental in founding the Chevaliers du Tastevin, Guy who developed the business in the Côte Chalonnaise, François who has recently retired and now his son Erwan, born in 1979.
The change of generation, enhanced by the arrival of Bernard Hervet as Managing Director, is clear warning of the intention to dynamise the business. Already there has been a notable expansion of vineyards under Faiveley’s control – purchase of Domaine Annick Parent (Pommard, Volnay and Monthélie), Domaine Monnot (various Puligny-Montrachet vineyards including grands crus Bienvenues-Bâtard-Montrachet and Bâtard-Montrachet) and the contract to farm the vineyards of Domaine Matrot-Wittersheim in Meursault and Blagny. Between them, these initiatives greatly expand Faiveley’s presence in the Côte de Beaune, thus also increasing the proportion of white wines in what they have to offer. It is too early for me to have formed a clear idea of the Faiveley white wine style.
There are several separate viticultural teams to cover the ground, ensuring that all the vineyards are ploughed, the vines are pruned short and debudded meticulously. The grapes are entirely destemmed and fermented in new wooden vats for the finer wines, conical stainless steel tanks for the lesser cuvées. There is less emphasis on extraction than in François Faiveley’s time, though the juice will still be punched down during fermentation. The most obvious change though is in the barrel cellar where the previous supplier has been dropped and replaced with Francois Frères, Taransaud and three other coopers. Both premier and grand cru wines may receive two-thirds new wood. Old style Faiveley wines could be massively tannic at the expense of the fruit. From 2007 the wines are much fresher and fruitier, yet still with real intensity.
Many of Faiveley's top wines are hand bottled with no filtration. This in turn results in clean, opulent wines that often show Pinot Noir at its best. Their concentration and richness are rarely equalled.
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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This high, east-facing vineyard is close to the northern edge of Gevrey’s Premiers Crus. Faiveley has a good holding here of nearly 1.25 hectares and there are some old vines planted in the 1930s. As usual, altitude and exposition lend restraint and the palate is sinewy but still complex. Drink 2022-2027.
Faiveley began picking on 2nd September in Meursault, while the first Pinot Noir was harvested in Volnay and Pommard on 4th September. Their red Grands Crus were picked between 9th and 14th September. They compare their reds to 2007 and 2011, although they say the 2017s have a fleshier palate. As previously there has been some considered use of whole bunches in the fermentation for some selected smaller vineyard parcels. For the whites, they consider 2017 to be an outstanding vintage with powerful, rich and intensely aromatic wines.
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