I was hosted at the domaine by Pierre-Emmanuel Gelin who has been working at the family domaine since 2000. Pierre-Emanuel is the grandson of Pierre Gelin who began the domaine in 1925 – his mother and father, Stéphen & Marie-Odile, have run the domaine since 1969, for much of that time with (Stéphen’s) brother-in-law, André Molin. The domaine, despite being one of the largest in Fixin, is housed in an unnassuming building in a side-street at the bottom of the village in Fixin – though they have their cuverie higher in the village, close to the church.
The 11.5 hectare domaine has a range of vineyards straddling Fixin and Gevrey-Chambertin. It was mainly from the 1940’s onwards that Pierre Gelin started to buy vineyards, prior to that they worked mainly as metayeurs. In 1994 the Fixin monopole, the Clos de la Chapitre, was sold to Dufouleur, but this enabled the purchase of their cuverie near the church.
Older labels show the name Gelin et Molin, this changed with the 1995 retirement of André Molin. At this time various parcels of vines from the then, 16.5 hectare domaine (which also included Mazi-Chambertin), were split between the families. Two new labels were born – Domaine Pierre Gelin and Domaine Jean-Michel Molin. Today the Gelin vineyards are as follows:
Fixin Villages 3.0ha
Fixin 1er Cru Clos Napoleon 1.8ha
Fixin 1er Cru Les Hervelets 0.5ha
Fixin 1er Cru Les Arvelets 0.15ha
Gevrey-Chambertin Clos des Meixvelle 1.8ha
Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Clos Prieur 0.2ha
Clos de Bèze 0.6ha
Bourgogne (Fixin area) 1.5ha
Wine-making is apparently a simple affair; complete destemming, fermentation in open vats followed by 18-24 months of elevage in 20-30% new oak. During my visit, we looked most closely at two of their vineyards, the monopoles of the Clos de Meixvelle and the Clos de Napoleon. The Gelin style fits the ragged vernacular of Fixin, those expecting a rustic wine from this village will get one. The Gevrey is a little finer, but would never be classed as svelte.
Gevrey-Chambertin Clos des Meixvelle
The Meixvelle is a good sized vineyard. It has been owned by the domaine since 1952 but was already exploited by them for 10 years prior to the purchase – in fact the vineyard was replanted by Pierre around the mid 1940’s so these same 60 year-old vines are what are harvested today. Save for its eastern gate, it is completely enclosed by a wall and sits right in the centre of Gevrey-Chambertin. The land here has only a shallow slope, and although the base is of limestone, there’s a reasonable depth of soil which is mainly accrued from erosion of the hills above. The vineyard is split down the middle by a cobbled pathway which acts as drainage when storms blow – and storms can blow – half the walls were washed away in a storm around 1910.
Fixin 1er Cru, Clos Napoleon
The Clos Napoleon was also bought by Pierre Gelin, in 1950. The vineyard had originally been owned by Noisot, member of the Imperial Guard and compatriot of Napoleon. It was he who established the park which still bears his name above Fixin, and who commissioned both the statue of ‘Napoleon Awakening’ by ‘Rude’ (who was also responsible for the Arc de Triomphe in Paris) and the museum to Napoleon’s time in Elba.
The museum is actually a facsimile of Napoleon’s house on Elba where Noisot spent time with the banished emperor.
Despite its premier cru designation, at the time of purchase there was no cultivation, so Pierre first had to clear the 1.8 hectare vineyard before planting. At this time, the enclosed vineyard took it’s current name of ‘Clos Napoleon’ in honour of Noisot as much as the emperor – previously it was called Aux (or Les) Cheusots.
Domaine Pierre Gelin
2, rue du Chapitre
Tel : +33 3 80 52 45 24
Fax : +33 3 80 51 47 80
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org