monk known as Bertin must have liked his wine – and he must have had a great
vineyard to grow it, for it is after this ‘field’ that the wine we now know as
Gevrey-Chambertin is named – the field of Bertin, (or Champ de Bertin). The
village of Gevrey – located in the Côte d’Or and about 15km south of Dijon –
added the name of its most famous vineyard, Chambertin to its name in 1847
(just as Puligny was to become Puligny-Montrachet, and Nuits became Nuits-St.
Georges). Since then the legendary renown of this hallowed terroir has grown
and grown. Some say that only the monumental name of Romaneé Conti can match or
surpass it in terms of world-beating red Burgundies.
this part of the Côte de Nuits (the northern Côte d’Or) there are no fewer than
nine Grand Cru vineyards (more than any other Burgundy village), and eight of
them pay homage to Bertin the thirsty monk, containing Chambertin in their
name. As if this were not enough, there are also 26 Premier Cru climats here, spread
over some 430 hectares.
could write almost without end about the history and characteristics of
Gevrey-Chambertin wines, but at this point it may be wise to pause for
refreshment – looking no further than Elden Selections to provide it. Their
stock of Gevrey-Chambertin wine bears the names of many fine producers – Domaine
Thierry Mortet; Domaine
Pierre Naigeon; and Domaine
Marchand Freres – and all are superb.
To take the example of Domaine Marchand Freres, they truly spare no pains in their pursuit of quality; manual harvesting begins a process which adapts constantly to the conditions that each year brings. Seven generations of the family have honed their skills here since 1813, and they are now based in a beautifully restored house in Gevrey-Chambertin itself. Five wines from their cellars are stocked by Elden – from the Bourgogne Rouge, to Gevrey Chambertin ‘Etelois’, to the Morey St Denis 1er Cru ‘Faconnieres’, right up to the Griottes-Chambertin Grand Cru.
what can explain this preponderance of top-drawer wine climats? It hardly needs
saying, but there is a lot of very high-quality land here. For example, the
tiny ‘Griottes-Chambertin’ – named after the grill-pan shape of its vineyards –
produces wine (such as that of Domaine Marchand-Freres, above) which is rich
and velvety. The wines of Chapelle-Chambertin and Charmes-Chambertin are
lighter though exceptionally fragrant; and Clos de Bèze is perhaps the most
renowned of the Grand Crus. And all because of the land – the vineyards
surround the mouth of the Combe de Lavaux, a cleft in the hillside that has
been eroding limestone sediments into the plains around Gevrey for a geological
epoch. Generally speaking, look north for the Premier Crus; south for the Grand
Crus; and on lower ground for the village appellation wines.
are wines for meat eaters who like their wine powerful, structured and smooth –
like a fist in a velvet glove. Game is a fantastic match, as is braised or
marinated lamb or beef. Choose strong but creamy cheeses like Époisses, and
more especially the local Ami du Chambertin, created to go especially well with
these wines and named ‘friend of Chambertin’. You’ll find the more mature wines
give you licorice, leather and that tantalizing Pinot underbrush, but they can
be drunk young too, for a delicious mouthful of cherries, strawberries and
famously preferred Chambertin wines above all others, though whether they
helped his military campaigns, history does not record. But from monk to
emperor, the wines of Gevrey-Chambertin bless all who touch them and can age
for 25 years or more in the cellars of those with the virtue and patience to
wait. The monk Bertin would surely be proud of them.