Profile: Domaine Pierre Gelin (Fixin)

Update 11.3.2010(29.7.2007)billn

domaine pierre gelin
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

clos des meixvelleThe 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.

2003 Gevrey-Chambertin, Clos des Meixvelletry to find this wine...
Medium colour. A deep nose of latent oak and faint reduction, slowly revealing faint herbs and interesting if not too obvious over-ripe elements. In the mouth it’s intense with furry tannins and surprises with a very impressive length. There’s a faint bitternes, probably from the tannins, but overall quite an impressive 2003.
2004 Gevrey-Chambertin, Clos des Meixvelletry to find this wine...
Medium colour. Cedar on the nose against a finer, if more obscured background. Good texture, plenty of velvety tannin and very good acidity. Again this is very long – mainly it’s just fresher than the 2003.
2005 Gevrey-Chambertin, Clos des Meixvelletry to find this wine...
Medium-plus colour. The nose is dense with herbal elements – bouquet garni – above pleasing black-shaded fruit. Compared to the previous wines, this has a real ‘executive’ texture and depth. The finish lingers well, shaded with black olive form the oak. This is very good.
Fixin 1er Cru, Clos Napoleon

three fixin monopolesThe 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.

2003 Pierre Gelin, Fixin 1er Clos Napoleontry to find this wine...
The nose first shows oak, but it is less obvious than the 2003 Gevrey and more fruit-driven. This is a real mouthful of wine – it burrows into your palate – lots of grainy texture. Quite a good length, but overall just a little more rustic than the the 2003 Meivelle
2004 Pierre Gelin, Fixin 1er Clos Napoleontry to find this wine...
Cedar on the nose – it’s fresh but very green shaded (today). In the mouth there’s good concentration and a velvety texture – much more refinement than the 2003. The herbal aspect is to the fore here on the palate too. The length is good, but at this stage this 04 demands time in the cellar.
2005 Pierre Gelin, Fixin 1er Clos Napoleontry to find this wine...
Understated dark oak on the nose, width and a slowly developing red note. Plenty of velvet tannin here and the oak remains a subtle undertow to the rest of the flavours. It’s fresh, long and quite structured, in fact that structure is today a little in the ascendent, but this seems to have enough material to provide a longer-term balance.

Domaine Pierre Gelin
2, rue du Chapitre
21220 Fixin
Tel : +33 3 80 52 45 24
Fax : +33 3 80 51 47 80
Email :

Agree? Disagree? Anything you'd like to add?

There are 6 responses to “Profile: Domaine Pierre Gelin (Fixin)”

  1. Sean Wheeler4th January 2009 at 8:17 pmPermalinkReply

    I have a bottle of Chambertin Burgandy Wine dated 1940. The label reads as follows:Maison Thomas-Bassol, Negociant, ” A Gevrey-Chambertin. (Cote-D’Or).’ Would like any information on this bottle & year.

  2. billn5th January 2009 at 7:48 pmPermalinkReply

    Dear Sean – that would be Thomas-Bassot a very well known owner and negociant of the time – like Bouchard Père or Drouhin. Older books describe 1940 as “mediocre for red and no whites”.

  3. hiro24th January 2010 at 3:31 pmPermalinkReply

    Perre Gelin makes ONE barrique of his own Fixin blanc for only his family. Fortunately, I got one but that’s why I can’t open it. :/

  4. hiro24th January 2010 at 3:57 pmPermalinkReply

    Hi Bill,
    I had a chance to taste one magnum of Clos de Meixvelle 1999, and it was marvelous one.
    I felt full maturity, ando so enjoyable. Very very fine, indeed.
    I wish I had an another chance…

  5. michiels19th November 2010 at 4:10 pmPermalinkReply

    we have a bottle of fixin clos napoleon 1973. Do you know more about this bottle?

    • billn19th November 2010 at 6:37 pmPermalinkReply

      It’s your bottle – why would I know more about it than you?

  6. meyerwire25th December 2012 at 11:34 pmPermalinkReply

    Michiels: drink that ’73 NOW -before it turns or loses its virility.

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