It is now ‘official‘ that the Château has been sold to Chinese investors. Ordinarily this might cause a few mutterings, but the temperature has been raised a little as the town of Gevrey itself, had tried to buy the buildings and vines – they were significantly outbid…
On the positive (wine) side, it is said that Eric Rousseau is currently caring for the domaine’s vines – and that sounds like a good start to me!
The Château de Gevrey-Chambertin is an almost iconic building in the old core of the village – from almost every angle it’s rather photogenic – and, either side of being pillaged and rebuilt, it has been so for about 1,000 years – note, you get a lot of pillaging and rebuilding in a millennia!
The castle of Gevrey-Chambertin, was certainly considerably revised in the second half of the XIIIth century, and was, during St Bernard life time, and even probably slightly earlier, a priory belonging to the Abbey of Cluny. Hughes, bishop of Auxerre, and his sister Maheldis, both descendants of Manasses of Vergy, a powerful leader of Burgundy in the 9th century, in 1015 and 1019 donated the “CURTIS” called Gevrey to the monastery of Cluny of which abbot was then St Odilon. Then, Yves de Poisey and his nephew Yves de Chazan , both abbots of Cluny and born of the lords of Vergy, gave its first official appearance to the building, between 1257 and 1275 : a vast rectangle, surrounded with moats. The southwest entrance was composed of a stone bridge, and further a drawbridge, flanked by two square towers. A big square tower stood at the southeast corner, and at the northeast was a dovecote on top of a small “cul de lampe” tower.
 Chartes de Cluny 2693,2722,2949
 Les carreaux de pavement vernissés du château de Gevrey-Chambertin, Ed. Delatour
 Archives de Côte d’Or, H 791, H184, G1088, 5H22, C535, Q827
The big square tower remains intact and is best viewed from the ‘gardens’ – actually vineyard.
As with so many older ‘properties’, the Château was sold-off in 1791 into private ownership. The Château was acquired by the Masson family – wine-makers from the Jura – in 1858, and it is still owned and maintained by their descendants. The Château has been classified as a Historic Monument surprisingly only since 1993 – a number of the rooms are renowned for their “engobe” ceramic tiles.
Genevieve Masson took up ownership in about 1955, and now it is her daughter Elisabeth Masson-Mitéran, who with her son Luc, makes wines from a portfolio of vineyards which make up the Domaine du Château de Gevrey-Chambertin.
The domaine has an interesting selection of vines – including some ‘choice’ parcels – but the domaine is not representative of others profiled in the Burgundy Report, it is more of a tourist attraction where you pay €2.50, enjoy a small tour of the immediate vineyards followed by a small pour from 2-3 wines which you may then (of-course!) purchase. More later of my experience here, but first a little about their vines:
- Bourgogne Rouge: from a small 0.05 hectare parcel of vines sited in Brochon – just one barrel per year.
- Gevrey-Chambertin: getting interesting here, the vines are within the walls of the Château and are mix of older and younger parcels that average about 50 years old, but one parcel averages 90 years old – some of the ‘feet’ in this section are even 120 years old! The old-vine section has been a separate cuvée since 1998. The rest, the cuvée ‘Clos du Château’ is about 20 barrels worth.
- Gevrey 1er Lavaux St.Jacques: yielding an average 5 barrels per year
- Charmes-Chambertin: a small 0.11 hectare parcel that provides an average yield of 2 barrels
Everything is picked by hand and then, for about 15 days, is fermented in the original 1860 oak vats (with some patching!). There is no planned pre-fermentation maceration – for instance fermentation began, not surprisingly, with 24 hours in 2003. The cap is pressed in a very old horizontal wooden press and then the wines are assembled in stainless-steel before being transferred to barrel for approximately 2 years aging. Two new barrels are bought each year for the Charmes-Chambertin, the rest of the wines go into purchased 1 year-old barrels. Until 1970 the wines were made with whole bunches, but since then everything has been destemmed “We changed because you need 30 years for a wine to mature if you work with the stems” said Luc Mitéran.
“The wood press, almost two centuries old, obtains the final nectar, which is poured in oak barrels.”
The domaine’s website
That’s the hard sell, but what is in the glass? I note that after a good ‘sales pitch tour’ by Luc, the (mainly) pre-opened wines were taken from a refrigerator and had been vacuvinned – I don’t have a major issue with this, except that I don’t know if the wines were opened 1, 2 or 10 days before our visit! Keep that in mind for the tasting notes:
Normally 50% of production is sold to ‘the négoce’, but Luc noted that in the last year because of the economy, the négoce had said ‘no’ – unless prices came down! – so the domaine kept their wine.
The colour is medium-pale red. Lots of kirsch aromas. Good sweetness and decent volume in the mouth – the acidity is a little sharp though. The fruit is high-toned and quite pretty, the tannin relatively faint. The finish is okay – I would say almost good, but far from great.
Medium colour. The nose shows a darker cherry aroma though it is a little volatile. In the mouth it seems less obviously ripe than the 01 villages. More tannin, which also shows a lick of astringency – clearly not a ‘late picked’ 2002!
The only wine where the cork is pulled, and it’s clearly the best. Medium colour. An interesting nose, just a little animale, underpinned with good fruit. Ripe and interesting across the tongue, a little fat, good dimension and fine acidity. The fruit has a high-toned stance. A good wine – but the potential here should be great.
Overall: A nice place to visit on a sunny day, and worth €2.50, but you could easily not bother with the tasting – whether due to old samples or old methods!