Domaine Serveau lies on the main High Street of Morey between the Route Nationale and Clos de Tart. Externally the domaine needs a little TLC, certainly at least a lick of paint. – still it looks like it’s been this way a long time and it hasn’t affected the wines has it(?)
I’ve known the wines in a facile way for many years – two or three bottles per year, always with a certain family style; soft, round and never the last word in extraction – a good thing. Even older bottles retained a the trait – always giving, smiling wines, ones that also reflected their most famous vines; half a hectare of Chambolle-Musigny Les Amoureuses. It was time I paid a visit.
The great-grand parents of the Serveaus were tonnelliers who bought parcels of vines, post-phyloxera, when land was cheap. Morey Les Sorbets was one of the first and most important vineyards purchased, 1.65 hectares, afterwards buying more parcels of vines in (for instance) Chambolle. The grandfather was a miller but the dust didn’t help his asthma so he spent more time with the vines. The family then changed the domaine name from Jouan to Serveau by marriage.
Today it is Jean-Louis Serveau in charge of about seven hectares. It was his father who developed the sales and began replanting the older vines; Jean-Louis continuing that process starting straight from school in 1976 “old vines sounds nice but that doesn’t mean they were originally planted with great material.” he says. Jean-Louis has two brothers, including Alain Serveau who is head of wine-making at Albert Bichot, the other works as an engineer, not associated with wine.
There is no specific ‘regime’ in the vines “we work in a ‘reasonable way’ – lutte-systematique” smiles Jean-Louis. Yields are modest; 35 hl/ha is common. Everything is destemmed followed by a cold pre-fermentation maceration.
For the last two years Jean-Louis has had a medical problem which has reduced the time he could spend with his vines and has resulted in a significant amount of wine being sold in barrel – indeed 2008s were still in barrel when I visited in January 2010 and a lot of grapes were sold direct (not surprisingly to brother Alain’s company) following the 2010 vintage. Jean-Louis was hoping he could make some bottling in April. Still there is a good market for the wines in the US and Japan.
I don’t visit anyone with the intention of being negative, indeed I was expecting to offer a tip of very pretty wines at very good prices but in this case it’s turned out differently – and that’s very sad. The domaine has clearly entered a period of decline from which I hope they can rescue themselves but just for now I’m not sure how they can. Jean-Louis is a very easy guy to get along with, I like him very much – this was the first time I met him and we talked as if we’d know each other for a long time, yet, I left feeling slightly ‘down’ and sad. Despite his jokes Jean-Louis seems on a downward course – perhaps the domaine with it. The prices have always been out of context of the quality of the wines – where else can you buy Amoureuses direct for €50 – but the 07s left me concerned; without re-tasting I wouldn’t buy them myself.
Wines tasted in Morey St.Denis, 27th January 2011.
The nose is wide but a little volatile. Decent flavour and plenty of tannin – this should come together very well – but I’m no fan of the nose.
Understated red fruits and also a touch of volatility – though on a lower lever to the Sentiers. Fuller and wider – much more impressive flavour and it expands further in the mid-palate. Plenty of structure and the last drops in the glass actually smell pretty good.
The nose is becoming characteristic, there is more depth but also more volatility too. Nice flavours with the structure further to the fore, though that will fade. Again the last drops smell much nicer than the full glass.
Similar nose to the Gevrey. The structure is actually on a lower level to the Evocelles, which is mainly covered by bright well balanced fruit. Actually a very pretty wine – except the aromas.
There is more depth of aroma here which drowns the worst of the ever-present family nose. In the mouth this is a lovely, comforting wine showing super flavour. Overall a very nice wine.
Well, I’m glad it wasn’t me! Not a trace of volatility here, just very pretty fruit – a raspberry conserve, perhaps with a little mint-leaf. Full and impressive over the tongue, round with fine tannin. The finish is clean as a bell – just lovely wine. Given the domaine’s tarif, no surprise that this one is sold-out!
Domaine Bernard Serveau
37 Grande Rue
Tel. +33 (0)3 80 34 33 07