Chapelle-Chambertin is a somewhat obscure Grand Cru vineyard lying east of Chambertin-Clos de Bèze. Less than 2,000 cases were produced in 2008, from the vineyard's mere 13.5 acres of growing space. The Chapelle satellite makes wine of a very unusual style, usually much lighter and less firm than most Chambertins.
Although it's really more of a Premier Cru-level vineyard, a few producers have taken the quality high enough to compete with some Chambertins and Chambertin-Clos de Bèzes. Beware, however; several poor wines are produced here, and they may charge Grand Cru prices for only a Premier Cru-level wine.
Chapelle-Chambertin's history is hardly as exciting as that of Chambertin or Chambertin-Clos de Bèze, as it has never been the Gevrey village's most desirable appellation. But just like all the other Gevrey Grands Crus, the AOC itself was created in 1937 to regulate the color of the wine (red only), yields, and alcohol levels.
Climate and Viticulture
Slightly lower in altitude than Chambertin and Chambertin-Clos de Bèze, the Chapelle vineyard also has less concentrated soil and clay, but in certain places true Grand Cru concentration can be found, and then the wines are of a truly world-class status. But for this the right producer must be selected.
- Pinot Noir: No white wine is produced here, though blending the white Pinots and Chardonnay is permitted but rare. The Chapelle-Chambertin style tends to be much lighter and less concentrated than Chambertin, Chambertin-Clos de Bèze, or even general Gevrey-Chambertin wines'. It accentuates the perfume of the wine, which often concentrates on red fruit, game, and flowers, rather than the reserves of mineral and tannic power found in even the best Chambertins. From the best producers, however, an added depth of complexity brings these wines to Grand Cru level, and allows them to age for 10-20 years.
We were able to single out five producers that we consider great from this vineyard.
- Domaine Pierre Damoy: Damoy's Chapelle cuvée has seemed to improve enormously over the last 15 or so years. A silky wine, this has good finesse, but the flavor core is of very dark fruit, leather, and game. An intriguing wine that will offer 10-15 years of aging potential. Prices have been in the $200 range of late.
- Domaine Claude Dugat: An essentially feminine style, with its complexity mostly derived from black cherry and a stricter mineral-tannin intensity coming through towards the end. Its main distinction, which some dislike, is its almost liqueurish rich texture. Aging isn't so necessary for these wines but 10 years might be expected to improve them.
- Jadot: A combination of light and dark berries saturate the palate, accompanied by a flavor set of flowers, minerals, earth, and that giveaway Gevrey tinge of smoky game. A very fresh wine, but there's a fair amount of tannin that is present despite being snowed under by the wine's many flavors. As a result, aging this for 10 years might help, but it would be no great sin to open this early.
- Domaine Perrot Minot: This old-vine cuvée is similar to the strongest Chambertins in style. Musky and tannic, the wine shows strong smoke and mineral flavors early on, with a distinct raspberry flavor manifesting itself in the wine's early years. This tough cuvée is clearly built for aging, and the correct term might be 15 years or even 20 considering the serious tannic reserves that can be found here. These wines are rather pricey.
- Domaine Jean & Jean-Louis Trapet: All three Trapets make good wine here, but Jean & Jean-Louis' is especially noted. In great vintages, the cuvée can be silky-sweet and rich, with some fruit and spice but a much more powerful earth component.
The Chapelle-Chambertin area splits into two different parts, which are considered to be lieux-dits. Most wines do not include these on the label, at least not prominently, but they are La Chapelle and Les Gémeaux.