Tasted in Gevrey-Chambertin with Benigne & Louis de Surrel, 21 June 2019.
Domaine Henri Rebourseau
10 Place du Monument
Tel: +33 3 80 51 88 94
I last visited here in May last year, 5 months later a controlling share (just!) in the estate was sold to the brothers, Martin and Olivier Bouygues.*
“Yes, half of the family decided sell their shares – 51%,” said Louis. “Help is now offered, and a new cuverie is planned. We have just one goal here – to produce the best that we can each year.”
Benigne and Louis seem to be front-of-house at the domaine now, their father, Jean, seemingly less involved. I liked Jean de Surrel, but I feel the sons will have more opportunity to express themselves in this new situation – it is clear that the old ways, relatively, brought only mediocre results versus their peers. 2017 was Benigne’s first vintage of wine-making, but it was 2018, where, for the first time, he made all the decisions. He is still using 100% new oak for his 2018s – an approach that, to my palate, very few domaines successfully navigate, but in this vintage, he has worked with a number of coopers – before all was Sirugue – now there will be a blend.
*The Bouygues brothers, French industrialists, also own Château Montrose and Château Tronquoy-Lalande in St-Estèphe, Domaine Clos Rougeard in Saumur-Champigny, and the Distillerie de la Métairie in Cognac.
Benigne and Louis de Surrel on 2017:
“Our harvest started on the 7th September in 2017, versus the 3rd September in 2018. We know of someone who harvested their Chambertin at 16.5° in 2018 – The point is that this wine has to be remarkable, or…
“We can rank 2017 as a good vintage. We had, in terms of temperature, well above the average in the mid-summer but that came after a cold winter. September was a little cooler, but the hours of sunshine were very high in the year. In the end it was quite an easy year for the work in the vines.”
Here is a domaine with massive potential – the guiding hand of new management, allowing the Benigne and Louis de Surrel to express themselves seems the sort of approach that should show dividends. For today the wines here still have a style that suggests they are for patient drinkers, but there is an extra fineness of texture, of tannin, and more clarity than those came before – clearly the vintage plays a rôle in this, but I’m looking forward with much more confidence to what might be achieved here in future vintages.
A quick look at two 2018s in barrel:
2018 Mazy-Chambertin – François Frères barrel
A faint oak spice, but lots of fruit too. A good volume, very faintly tannic but the grain is very fine and has no astringency. A line of oak with a tiny reduction in the mid to finish.
2018 Mazy-Chambertin – Taransaud barrel
Less spice, a more fruit-forward nose, indeed a fine clarity of fruit. More supple, more clarity again, great!
2018 Chambertin – François Frères barrel
Less volume of aroma, but with growing floral notes. Mouth-filling but with a fresh, mineral impression, granular but finer tannin than the François Mazy. Vibrant finish.
2018 Chambertin – Taransaud barrel
Again more fruit and more salinity. Supple tannin but finer again, such a persistent line of flavour.
Of-course the finished wines will see more elevage and will be blended – but if I had to choose only one barrel, it would have been the Taransaud in both cases.
Lots of colour. The nose has some volume, and a very faintly saline, perhaps tobacco too. Nice drive and a mouth-watering, modestly mineral finish here.
2017 Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Fontenys
Again, great depth of colour for the vintage – all is destemmed. More weight of aroma – powdery dark fruit but with a good energy. More mouth-filling, much more energy, saline, juicy, growing in intensity. Serious, but also seriously impressive.
2017 Gevrey-Chambertin 1er La Perriere
The 2015 vintage was the first time they bottled this – it’s only taken 120 years – but now they have a tank small enough! The vines are just below Mazis. 0.15 ha
Wider and with a fine intensity – also a little powdery but with plenty of perfume. Driving intensity, a little extra tannin, a little extra dimension of finishing flavour, slowly fading, modestly juicy. Ooh, that’s good!
Ooh – deeply coloured once more! More depth of aroma – so deep, with sweetly mineral top notes, suggesting a little oak. Wide, quite intense with a modest grain to the tannin but no astringency. Big finishing, again faintly mineral and modestly saline finishing. A young but impressive wine.
A nose of wide and sweeping lines – it’s an individual – complex and suggesting florals too. Ooh, a wine of drive of energy – quite a dynamic, structural wine. Less round but otherwise more of everything versus the Charmes… Simply excellent.
Beze and Chambertin blended – ‘but the parcels are next to each other.’ 0.46 Chambertin 0.33 Bèze, but the yield is lower in Chambertin.
Hmm, more depth, at first a hint animale, but then it changes – quite a silky style of aroma. Rounder – full, silky – very fine. Despite more weight, this has a much more executive, elegant texture.
2017 Clos de Vougeot
2.2 hectares of mainly 1927 vines but, of course, there has been plenty of replanting.
A big, bright, forward nose of high-toned, powdery, dark-red fruit. Ooh, that’s really super in the mouth – the structure more overt but open, more grain to the tannin, very faintly astringent. Excellent wine again.