Wine By Region Europe France Burgundy Côte de Nuits Gevrey-Chambertin Chambertin Chambertin-Clos de Bèze Chapelle-Chambertin Charmes-Chambertin Griotte-Chambertin Latricières-Chambertin Mazis-Chambertin Mazoyères-Chambertin Ruchottes-Chambertin
The record-setting Gevrey-Chambertin village, located in the heart of the Côte de Nuits, has in its boundaries some of the prime vineyards in the world. Its village and Premier Cru production amounts to almost 200,000 cases, solely of red wine, each year. The 1,000 acres of land specified for the AOC makes Gevrey-Chambertin the largest Côte de Nuits village appellation in terms of acreage, and in the Côte d'Or second only to the village of Beaune.
There are 26 Premier Cru vineyards in Gevrey-Chambertin, several of which produce an amazing amount of wine and are famous in their own right. In addition, the village has 9 Grands Crus, which trumps Vosne-Romanée's 6 and is by far the most Grands Crus of any village in Burgundy. This amazing achievement is often overlooked by those who prefer the even more incredible wines of Vosne-Romanée, but Gevrey-Chambertin must take at least second in any analysis of Côte de Nuits villages.
Gevrey-Chambertin's main advantage is derived from its unique combination of quantity and quality. There are almost 10 square miles in the village and, as mentioned earlier, they yield over 1,000 acres of vineyards, but less than 200 of these are carefully designated Premier Cru vineyards. Strangely, there is actually more Grand Cru acreage within the Gevrey-Chambertin village: a record-smashing total of 211 acres of Grands Crus. This makes a total of 40% of the vineyards that are designated...quite impressive statistics.
Known for their traditionally powerful style, Gevrey-Chambertin village and Premier Cru wines often need more time to reach maturity than the Grand Cru wines. This somewhat unusual circumstance arises from a lower level of refinement and balance being found in the non-Grand Cru offerings. Generally, however, after 10-20 years Gevrey-Chambertin village and Premier Cru wines will be just sublime. And they tend to offer better value than their main competitors, Gevrey's own Grands Crus and Vosne-Romanée. Although not inexpensive, they are good values next to Vosne-Romanée's boutique-priced styles.
Gevrey-Chambertin's long history as a Côte d'Or village included winemaking since almost the beginning. In fact, the historical village may have actually been the first place vines were planted in Burgundy, although this is not yet definitively proven. According to archaeological discoveries, vines have been planted here since the 1st century B.C. The initial technique was amateurish and made for what was most likely an awful wine, but the appellation's history nonetheless inspires confidence and awe.
The village AOC was created in 1936. In addition to outlawing white wine, the accompanying regulations set the usual requirements for yields and alcohol levels. A year later, the Grand Cru AOCs were designated. In recent years, Gevrey-Chambertin has improved its reputation further; rather than resting on its laurels as a great Burgundian village, it has cemented its reputation as one.
Climate and Viticulture
In almost the entire Gevrey-Chambertin village, Premier Cru, and Grand Cru designations, the weather and rainfall conditions are so perfect as to make Pinot Noir practically a tailored grape for the area. It's hard to imagine any other grapes growing there and making wine so good. Rocky, sandy soil in the east of the village makes for poor wine, and so few vineyards out here are designated Premier Cru. But marl and limestone reaches greater concentration in the Premier and Grand Cru vineyards, some of which are on slopes in order to further improve the character of the wine grown there by absorbing the sun's heat.
- Pinot Noir: There is no white wine option in Gevrey-Chambertin; the village is solely red wine. The wines can contain 15% Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, and Pinot Gris, but this is very rare. As a result, these are almost entirely varietal Pinot Noir wines. In dramatic contrast to neighboring villages such as Chambolle-Musigny, the Gevrey-Chambertin village makes a surprisingly powerful and masculine style of Pinot Noir, with few exceptions among the Premiers Crus. A few Grands Crus make more rounded, elegant styles, but at village and Premier Cru level it's almost entirely deep, dark wine. The flavors are very dark and rarely have that light cherry or raspberry tinge that many Côte de Nuits Pinots are known for. Instead, these dark wines have initial flavors of blackcurrant, black cherry and other black fruit, earth, and licorice. Sometimes, a liqueur-like wine is even produced, with flavors so dense and concentrated as to recall Bordeaux more than Burgundy. This is not a bad thing, but the fact is that the wines need more time to take on true Côte de Nuits character. Eventually, the tough flavors turn to game and the structure becomes rich and soft, in a slightly similar way to the softening of Pommard wines on the other side of the Côte d'Or. The wines remain intense and concentrated, but a more definitive Pinot Noir usually comes out. The time that this happens is usually within 10 years, but almost all the good cuvées here can still be developing after a 20-year laydown.
These high-priced wines are highly competitive, as a number of producers own Gevrey-Chambertin land, so among the many leaders there are a great deal of outstanding cuvées to be had. Most of these have prices somewhere in the three figures, so this is not exactly the village for bargain wine. But there are a number of great wines here that are, at their respective prices, relatively more valuable than some overinflated Grand Cru wines.
Our tally of leading producers in the Gevrey-Chambertin village concluded with 19 producers making the cut. They are listed below, while their wines are sorted by Premier Cru under the Subregions heading.
- Bouchard Pere et Fils
- Domaine Bruno Clair
- Domaine Claude Dugat
- Domaine Dugat Py
- Domaine Dujac
- Domaine Sylvie Esmonin
- Domaine Fourrier
- Domaine Humbert Freres
- Dominique Laurent
- Domaine Leroy
- Lignier Pere et Fils
- Lucien Le Moine
- Domaine Denis Mortet
- Domaine Geantet Pansiot
- Domaine Joseph Roty
- Domaine Armand Rousseau
- Domaine Christian Serafin
The amazing Gevrey-Chambertin appellation contains numerous lieux-dits, 26 Premiers Crus, and a record-breaking nine Grands Crus. The basic village wine from producers such as Serafin, despite its connotation of modest quality, can often supersede Premier Cru wines from other villages. At the lieu-dit level, there are a few notable non-premier vineyard sites, notably from domaines Dugat Py, Fourrier, Denis Mortet, Geantet Pansiot, and Joseph Roty. As for the Premiers Crus, there are exactly 26.
- Au Closeau
- Aux Combottes: Domaine Dujac's only Premier Cru cuvée comes from this vineyard, and is a weighty, herbal wine lifted by notes of spice and minerals. Dominique Laurent's young-vine offering here is similarly minerally and austere, but the rich, inviting old vine example has quite different character. Lignier's wines center themselves around the same core of mineral and spicy fruit, and are powerful but approachable. Finally, Leroy's very expensive boutique offering has typical Leroy notes of small wild berries and earth, but will become a classically Gevrey wine with the requisite 10 years' aging.
- Bel Air
- La Bossière
- Les Cazetiers: Bouchard's rich, pure example should be aged to show the best of its character. Faiveley also makes classic Gevrey, but without the tannic power or austerity that can often characterize these wines. Jadot also makes a very ripe, somewhat upfront style. The same is true of Lucien Le Moine's energetic cuvée. Powerful Gevreys are offered by Dominique Laurent; both his rich, classic young vine example and his darker, blackberry-laden old-vine example have outstanding tannic power. For the most original wines, however, look to smaller producers. Bruno Clair's Cazetiers is a classic Gevrey-Chambertin with ripe flavors of game, earth, and black fruit. Domaine Armand Rousseau makes more wild wine, but it's dark and complex enough to need 10 years of aging. Domaine Christian Serafin's incredible offering here is practically at a Grand Cru level, with amazing depth of fruit in a classic Gevrey style, combined with sweeter notes of chocolate, licorice, and oak spice. It also has Grand Cru ageability; expect it to improve over a period of 10 years.
- Champeaux: This isn't a very common Premier Cru, but is spiced up by three good cuvées. Denis Mortet's somewhat simple but pleasantly chocolatey and ripe wine is the least intense style you'll find here. Flavors of textured dark fruits characterize Fourrier's very intense offering. Dugat Py makes a more medium-bodied example, which is highly perfumed and lushly flavored but also classically dry.
- Champonnet: Faiveley's wine here is good, but age it for 5-8 years.
- Cherbaudes: Domaine Fourrier makes a rich, slightly minerally wine here that can be aged for up to a decade.
- Clos du Chapitre
- Clos Prieur: Joseph Roty's example here is probably the best. It is pleasantly intense with flavors of smoked game, plus typically Roty notes of black fruit and licorice.
- Clos St-Jacques: This small vineyard is dominated by six cuvées, which collectively elevate the Premier Cru vineyard to Grand Cru level. They usually are very energetic and vibrant with more feminine, approachable flavors than typical Gevrey, but have enough tannic reserves to give them Grand Cru depth and ageability. Energetic, ripe, plummy Bruno Clair is amazing for its combination of power with energy, something found in few Gevrey-Chambertin wines. Domaine Sylvie Esmonin makes a similarly rich and round wine, often with smoke and minerals overhanging the usual dark fruit notes. Domaine Fourrier's is of the same style, with rich and ripe flavors of red fruit and flowers that nonetheless have plenty of energy and precision. Jadot has a similar combination of red fruit and flowers, and can be slightly sweet in some vintages. Dominique Laurent's old-vine example is more smoky, with a drier, more austere aroma of herbs, but is nonetheless made in an enjoyable style. If price is any indicator, Domaine Armand Rousseau's cuvée is the most esteemed here, often costing in the neighborhood of $300. Aromas of red fruit, rose, and stone are spiced up by an oak note, but there's also tannic power to compensate for these somewhat delicate flavors. This vineyard deserves promotion and probably will get it.
- Clos des Issarts: The only Gevrey-Chambertin monopole, this vineyard is thoroughly owned by négociant Faiveley. In comparison to Gevrey's normally heavy wines, and Faiveley's usual stylistic leanings, it is pleasantly sweet with flavors of red fruit and fresh spice.
- Clos des Varoilles
- Combe aux Moines: Faiveley and Domaine Fourrier produce the most common styles here. Dark, intense flavors characterize both wines, usually black fruit with mineral and earth undertones. They are classically Gevrey-Chambertin, but in an even more closed style than usual for this village. Fourrier's cuvée is generally deceptively sweet at first, while Faiveley's is classically dry, but both have roaring tannins that need to cool down with eight years or more in the cellar.
- Les Corbeaux: Domaine Christian Serafin's offering is one of the best wines here, smoky with delicious flavors of dark fruit and game. Densely packed with tons of flavors supplemented by powerful tannin, they need several years to unwind. Similarly serious and tannic is Domaine Denis Bachelet's cuvée here, with ripe flavors of mint to offset the heaviness of the wine. Wine from the Clavelier family (Domaine Bruno Clavelier or Domaine Clavelier-Brosson) is also reliable in this Premier Cru.
- Craipillot: This somewhat obscure Premier Cru is led by Domaine Humbert Freres' feminine, elegant cuvée. Its notes of red fruit aren't typically Gevrey-Chambertin, but there's a lot to admire about this wine's balance and ripeness.
- En Ergot
- Estournelles St-Jacques: This small Premier Cru seems to be almost entirely monopolized by four of our major producers. Dominique Laurent's old-vine example has been somewhat reduced lately, but may improve with age. Lucien Le Moine's firm, tannic cuvée also needs a decade or more of cellaring, but its combination of stone and herbs provides a great basis for evolution. Jadot's silky, smoky, and spicy Estournelles cuvée is a fabulously ripe and elegant wine with the tannic power to back it up, although it is overshadowed by their even more finessed Clos St-Jacques offering. Domaine Humbert Freres' has similar style, and in a few vintages has clearly been the best Estournelles. Age almost any wine here for 10 years or more to see its complexity unfold.
- Fonteny: This excellent vineyard seems to be mainly concentrated on three cuvées. Domaine Bruno Clair's comes from a walled part of the vineyard and thus is labeled Clos du Fonteny. Smooth with flavors of meat and black fruit, it is rich but classically dry and needs aging. More approachable, but done in a similarly elegant style, are Roty's more exotic offering, and the earthy, minerally Christian Serafin.
- Les Goulots: Fourrier's austerely mineral, but ageworthy wine is a good offering here.
- Lavaux St-Jacques: This vineyard is among the most common Gevrey-Chambertin Premiers Crus, with some of the cuvées capable of rivaling similar Clos St-Jacques. Look to Denis Mortet's cuvée for a traditional, dry style, where the essentially Gevrey flavor set needs 10 or more years to freshen up. Usually, though, the wines have a creamy texture, making them easier to drink, but in a number of them raging tannins are present as to counteract this more approachable style. Domaine Armand Rousseau, Lucien Le Moine, and Jadot are gamy but smooth. Dugat Py's wild, grandly rich cuvée, as well as Dominique Laurent's exotic, almost wildly flavored old-vine example are more exciting. Domaine Claude Dugat's highly esteemed Lavaux also expertly combines game scents with tannic power. All these wines will show an entirely different side with the right amount of aging.
- La Perrière: A common Premier Cru, but with few leading wines.
- Petite Chapelle: The leading wines here come from Domaine Bruno Clair, Domaine Dugat Py, and Domaine Humbert Freres. Sweet and perfumed, the Clair is a pleasant, upfront one for early drinking. Freres' is deeper with a smoky perfume, but the game and black fruit that characterize Gevrey are not present here. The most masculine, classically Gevrey attempt is Dugat Py's dark-fruited, complex cuvée, which, like their Lavaux, is critically considered the best of the vineyard.
- Petits Cazetiers
- Poissenot: While it seems like several producers have made wines here over the years, the two top cuvées seem often to be those of Domaine Humbert Freres and Domaine Geantet Pansiot. Freres' is light but classically dry, good mainly for its soft aromas and roundness, while Pansiot's is far more unusual, with lighter than usual fruit and a silky-smoky texture. It might be tempting to drink these immediately, but aging certainly wouldn't hurt.
- La Romanée
The nine Grands Crus are as follows.
- Chambertin: Deep, concentrated Pinot Noir wines typify the best vineyard of the Gevrey-Chambertin commune. Although a few high-yielding wines have brought down the vineyard's reputation, there's just as much rich, ageable wine in that classic style to be found here as always.
- Chambertin-Clos de Bèze: Although allowed to label themselves Chambertin, these wines have built for themselves a different reputation. A more rich, earthy style is produced here; despite being just as large as Chambertin, this vineyard offers more reliable wine in general, although Chambertin's top cuvées are still favored by critics.
- Chapelle-Chambertin: This Grand Cru falls short of its more famous neighbors, but a few reasonably priced offerings and some top cuvées are both made here.
- Charmes-Chambertin: Ultra-heavy, dense and complex, the best of these wines are somehow lifted by a vibrant core of red fruit and spice. As a result of this idiosyncratic style, these wines have become more notable recently.
- Griotte-Chambertin: This obscure, very small vineyard hasn't been in the spotlight for a while, but a few devoted producers aim to change that with their deep, rich wines.
- Latricières-Chambertin: Like Charmes, these wines are unusual for Gevrey, but in a completely different way. Wildly flavored, with odd balances between tannin and acidity, they are often considered overpriced due to an agglomeration of boutique producers here.
- Mazis-Chambertin: This Grand Cru makes very concentrated, intense wines that promise great development through a 20-year laydown, and are not meant for early drinking. Their lack of flamboyancy means that this can be one of the least expensive Gevrey Grands Crus.
- Mazoyères-Chambertin: A tiny Grand Cru, which contains numerous old vines, Mazoyères can make very dark, concentrated wines of a unique style. Most producers have labeled the wines as Charmes-Chambertin, but a few new ones are bringing prestige to the Mazoyères name.
- Ruchottes-Chambertin: A tiny Grand Cru of less than eight acres, this somewhat underrated area seems to make wines less expensive than the other Chambertin Grands Crus. The best producers implement the classic style of great depth and concentration.