Tasted with Jerome Castagnier in Morey St.Denis, 1st April 2015.
20 Rue des Jardins
21220 Morey St.Denis
Tel: +33 3 80 34 31 62+33 3 80 34 31 62
The wines of Castagnier were high on my purchase list for the vintages 1996-1999; a good local supply and keen prices for grand crus – I still have quite a few – so it was with great anticipation that I managed to meet up with Jerome for the first time.
Jerome, 36, actually hasn’t been here all that long, and the last couple of years have been hard: “My father died in 2012 and my mother was retired, then our ‘tractorist’ just left for another job, so it was really the worst time – busy, busy, busy.. “
The domaine itself began with Jerome’s great grand-father, who in 1890 bought his first parcel from Marey-Monge. Jerome’s grandfather was Gilbert Vadey (maternal) who sold mainly to the négoce, only bottling a tiny amount – he was a friend of a certain Henri Jayer. In 1973 his bottles had prizes from Alexis Lichine in new york. The vines have tended to come through the maternal side but there are also connections with the Trapets of Gevrey. In 1975, Jerome’s father, Guy, began and he also started to bottle more wine, the labels were Guy Castagnier, but also Vadey-Castagnier and Gilbert Vadey. Jerome is the first son for generations – “So no pressure!” he laughs!
Jerome’s actually a musician (his wife is also a violinist) having been through the Conservatoires de Paris and Dijon for the trumpet… He was also part of Chirac’s Orchestra of the Republic for 5 years.
In April 2004 whilst part of the Guard Republicain he decided to come and study in Beaune – 2005 was the real changeover year and it was exciting for Jerome because it was the 30th vintage of his father and his grandfather was still helping too – so three generations worked together for that vintage. Guy broke a leg in 2006 so Jerome took more and more of the responsibility. His grandfather died, also in 2006.
In ten years Jerome says that he sees already some very big differences – not all positive – “There’s much more administration, but at least I’ve now managed to find a secretary!”
Domaine Castagnier has 7 grand crus yet remains relatively unknown. Mazis, Latricières and Bonnes-Mares were on a 30 year lease from Christophe Newman which ended in 2007. So Jerome constructed a second label for négoce – particularly for whites as he loves Puligny etcetera, this was also with Newman, but Newman backed out after the 2009 vintage. Today the volumes are about 70-30 domaine-négoce.
When combining the négoce labels, there’s really a roll-call of top grand crus here now. The domaine has 4 hectares spread across 15 different parcels, mainly a single parcel per appellation. There are 2 hectares of grand crus, including 0.5 hectares of well-sited Clos de Vougeot, just over the wall from Grands-Echézeaux – though 20% hailed in 2014. The domaine’s oldest vines are in Chambolle, and date from 1933 – ‘the grandmothers of the domaine.’
For vinification Jerome loves to work with gravity, less pigeages a little more delestages – ‘which seems more ample but with less edges.’ 4-6 days of cool maceration too. He says he took a risk and harvested a little later than others in 2014 and thinks it’s a great vintage but not one to start too early – the grapes were nice but a little short on sugar so I waited. The weather became colder but he prefers to cut cooler grapes to avoid thermic shock. ” The rule is, no rules!” he says. Regarding coopers, Jerome works a lot with François Frères, trying to get ‘the best marriage between the wood and fruit.’
All the whites and négoce wines are raised in an old vaulted cellar in the centre of Morey, but Jerome will move them here when all the malos are finished.
Jerome laughs at all the problems thrown at vigneron(ne)s in the last years; ”
Rain, drosophila – what next, the douanne with drones? “
The domaine’s sales markets are mainly France; “I inherited lots of private clients, ttc ex domaine the 05 Clos de Vougeot was 33 Euros, now its 70 – that makes a big difference. One problem is that when the wines are cheap, people don’t think the quality is good…!
The 13s are now bottled, so I asked him his thoughts:
“2013 is an interesting vintage; the aromas are a little different, dark fruit but interesting dark fruit and very tasty flavours. It rained so much during the year we had to treat with backpacks, even once, first time in many years, with a helicopter. In the end the grapes had very little juice – the main reason for their concentration. I racked without sulfur (for the first time) but this was also the first time I ever had to heat the cellar to finish the malos – they were finished just after the 14 harvest – there also wasn’t much lees, so maybe this was a factor for the malos… I bottled in the phase of the moon; it was the birth year of my second son, so I have to be positive about the vintage! My benchmarks are 05 and 09. 14 was hard as I lost a son just as I was moving the 2014 Clos de Vougeot into barrel…”
As the 13s weren’t available to taste we toured the barrels of 14s. The 2014s all some way through malos – yet to my surprise, there was still much to commend. It’s still too early for tasting notes, but I have a good feeling for these wines in the future.
There was Passetoutgrains. Chambolle – from Aux Echanges but this is the villages section between Beau Bruns 1er and 1 Aux Echanges – there was clarity and length. Gevrey-Chambertin Les Seuvres then Morey aux Cheseaux 1er – just 3.5 barrels – but it was really super. Then the grand crus of Charmes-Chambertin with a little licorice, fine balance and intensity. Next was Clos Saint Denis which soft more floral, very long faintly mineral. “This is my Mozart” coos Jerome. Then Clos de la Roche which was more direct, quite complex and transparent. Lastly Clos de Vougeot, normally 9 barrels, but only 6 due to the hail and flowering.