Gevrey-Chambertin

Posted by admin | July 9, 2020 | Blog

The 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. 

In 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. 

We 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. 

So 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. 

These 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 floral notes. 

Napoleon 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.