It’s a little more than 7 years since I visited Benoit Germain in Chorey-lès-Beaune, and for the combination of great weather, great wines and Benoit’s shining personality, it was my favourite visit of the year. In some ways Bertrand de Villaine today reminds me a little of Benoit, but Benoit was more ebullient. It was simply incomprehensible to this casual visitor that behind that façade was somebody so wracked with doubt and depression. Only a couple of months later he took his own life – the memory of my last visit resonates every time I pick up a bottle.
The domaine’s plots across the Beaune hillsides were very highly regarded by other winemakers, mainly today they lie with Jadot and Remoissenet – as I heard it, sold by Benoit’s wife – though the rest of the family apparently wanted to keep ownership, preferring to put the vines out to fermage – long-term (15+ years) rents. It was a very complicated end for someone who, to the casual visitor like me, seemed so uncomplicated…
1995 Château de Chorey / Jacques Germain, Beaune 1er Les Teurons
My nose is a little blocked today, but this is so clearly fresh and dark-red pure fruited – no leather or spice in this 1995. Wide and fresh with lovely fruit, still a little rasp of tannin in the finish – but only if you really search for it. The oak of its youth is no longer visible. This is remarkably elegant now for such a poorly reputed vintage. I’ve been ‘out of’ this vintage for a while, but clearly I will have to open more 1995s, because this is excellent. For what it is, just about perfect today – thank-you Benoit.
Rebuy – Yes