Red, Ready, but will improve

2016 Gevrey-Chambertin, Méo-Camuzet Frere et Soeurs

2016 Gevrey-Chambertin, Méo-Camuzet Frere et Soeurs

Red | Ready, but will improve | Meo-Camuzet | Code:  49822 | 2016 | France > Burgundy > Cote de Nuits > Gevrey Chambertin | Pinot Noir | Medium Bodied, Dry | 13.0 % alcohol

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The Producer

Meo-Camuzet

Meo-Camuzet

Méo-Camuzet is one of the undisputed star estates of Burgundy. Until 1988 most of the domaine's holdings were leased out to other vignerons and amazingly most of the wine was sold off to négociants in bulk. Today, it is a very different story.

Meo Camuzet now has over 2.5 hectares of grands Crus and 8 hectares of some of the finest Premier Cru vineyards of Nuits-St-Georges and Vosne-Romanée. Most of the vineyards are farmed organically, but not every aspect of all vineyards: one or two which are difficult for tractor access may still see an occasional herbicide or anti-rot treatment.
 
The grapes are sorted at the winery, destemmed, cooled if need be to 15°C for a short pre-fermentation maceration, and then spend around 18 days in vat in total,, with temperatures being maintained around 30-32°C. Early on the juice is pumped over twice a day with some pumping down subsequently. Afterwards, the wines are matured in barrel, with 50% of new wood for the major villages, 60-70% for the premiers crus and 100% for the grands crus. Possibly a little less new wood may be used in the future, and Jean-Nicolas has certainly refined his choice of wood in recent years, while retaining François Frères as more or less sole supplier.

Jean-Nicolas Méo and Christian Faurois now run the Domaine and together they produce some of the very best wine in the Côte d'Or. Meo Camuzet produces full-bodied, firm, rich, oaky, concentrated wines, which no serious Burgundy drinker should overlook.

Before the current incumbent, there are two major names associated with this great Vosne-Romanée domaine. The first is Etienne Camuzet, a political figure who was deputy for the Côte d’Or from 1902 to 1932, and who purchased during his life some significant vineyard holdings as well as the Château de Clos de Vougeot, which he later gave to the Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin. His name frequently appears in litigation to decide which parcels of vineyard might or might not be included as part of a grand cru.
 
His vineyard holding passed to a daughter, Maria Noirot, who died childless, and thence in 1959 to a more distant relative, Jean Méo. At this stage the vineyards were looked after by sharecroppers and the wine sold off in bulk. Domaine-bottling only began in 1985 and reached full throttle with the arrival of Jean-Nicolas Méo to take charge in 1989. The various sharecropping agreements have now come to an end (the last being Jean Tardy in 2007) with one of the former sharecroppers, Christian Faurois, remaining as Jean-Nicolas Méo’s right-hand man in the vines.
 
The second great personality is of course Henri Jayer, who was invited to look after the Camuzet vines as long ago as World War II, though not having been involved in the business before. Jayer remained a sharecropper until his (first) retirement in 1988, after which he continued to advise the domaine.
 
Jasper Morris MW, Burgundy Wine Director and author of the award-winning Inside Burgundy comprehensive handbook.

The Grape

Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir

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.

The Region

Gevrey Chambertin

Gevrey Chambertin

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)

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