Located in the village of Gevrey-Chambertin, the Ruchottes-Chambertin appellation is, with the exception of Griotte-Chambertin, the smallest of Gevrey's Grands Crus. Only 7.4 acres are used for Ruchottes-labeled wine, which makes for just over 1,000 cases per year produced. Bordered by Mazis-Chambertin and Gevrey-Chambertin's Premier Cru vineyards, the Ruchottes vineyard can often make surprisingly high-quality wines.
Usually, small Grand Cru vineyards in Burgundy are the site of much ado and clamor, with each low-production wine produced being snapped up for four figures or more. But Ruchottes is one of the unlucky few that has not attracted much attention, making its wines relatively well-priced despite the very low production numbers.
This satellite vineyard was officially delineated as such in 1937. Despite its size, it was not "merged" into any other vineyard, and as a result the wine from the appellation is fairly original.
Climate and Viticulture
The vineyard is located high on the hillside of the hill that houses all of Gevrey-Chambertin's Grands Crus. It is above Chambertin and Chambertin-Clos de Bèze, which is usually a quality advantage in other places, but in this case the most layered soil of marl, clay and limestone is to be found lower on the hill. The Ruchottes appellation does, however, have excellently concentrated soil, and is capable of producing the occasional cuvée that rivals the big 2 in quality.
- Pinot Noir: Of course, the legal blending of Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, and Pinot Gris into the final wine is very rare in Ruchottes-Chambertin, making these Pinots as pure as the driven snow. In fact, the wine style is also very pure and vibrant without being feminine; in fact, there's nothing to complain about with these wines' complexity. But this is a suave, supple style, sometimes made with a creamy texture and sometimes not. Most of the time, the flavors are a bit lighter than typical Gevrey: red fruit, spices, flowers, and in a few wines a Chambolle-like blood orange note. But the depth of the wine and a smoky tinge gives away this wine's origin to accurate tasters. Drink one of these after 7-15 years in the cellar.
The number of producers in Ruchottes-Chambertin is not very high, thanks to the small size of the appellation. But there are several producers that compete, and this and the vineyard's mediocre reputation make prices much lower than Chambertin and Chambertin-Clos de Bèze, especially with négociant-bottled wines. Many wines are "values" at $100 or less. We have singled out three leading producers.
- Domaine Frederic Esmonin: A Chambolle-like feminine style young, this wine displays notes of sweet red fruits, especially raspberry and flowers, but a smoked meat tinge gives this away as a Gevrey. The flavors are more rich than sweet, proving the wine's complexity. In fact, this is a very deep, complex style, with no shortage of power despite its suaveness. Enjoyable early on but also ageable for at least 10 years, the wine's biggest advantage is its cost—under $100, even in top vintages.
- Domaine Mugneret-Gibourg: This domaine, run by three women, is more known for its elegant Vosne-Romanées, but produces wines of a similar style in Ruchottes-Chambertin. Vibrant and silky, the Ruchottes has plenty of energy young. Although often smoky, the wines rarely display a game note, instead showing flavors of red fruit, minerals and flowers in an almost Chambolle-like style. Despite their finessed nature, these wines have a long finish and dusty tannins, so they might improve and harmonize with time. This one is around $200.
- Domaine Roumier: Roumier is an extremely expensive domaine, making their wine by far the most pricey in Ruchottes-Chambertin at its range of $350-$500. As a result, value hunters will have to look to one of the other two cuvées in this list. But in the past few vintages Roumier's Ruchottes quality has apparently jumped significantly. This is essentially a pure style, without much tannic power, concentrating mainly around red Pinot fruit given vibrancy by a distinctive spice note. Although there's a giveaway smoked meat note in most of these vintages, most of the intensity is derived from minerals rather than tannins, making this much more energetic than your average Chambertin. Despite the unconventional style, it should still be aged.
There are no intriguing labeling practices other than Domaine Armand Rousseau's labeling of their "Clos des Ruchottes" as a monopole. This is effectively a lieu-dit. Other than that, most wines will be labeled Ruchottes-Chambertin alone.