Profile: Domaine Château de Gevrey-Chambertin (Gevrey)

Update 24.8.2012(31.7.2009)billn
August 2012: The owner of the Château de Gevrey-Chambertin, Elisabeth Masson-Mitéran, died in November 2011 and her heirs subsequently decidide to sell.
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!

From Wikipedia:

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[1][2]. 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[3]. 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.
[1] Chartes de Cluny 2693,2722,2949
[2] Les carreaux de pavement vernissés du château de Gevrey-Chambertin, Ed. Delatour
[3] 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.

The Domaine

Looking over the oldest vines to the Square TowerGenevieve 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
The Wine-Making

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:

2001 Château de Gevrey-Chambertin, Gevrey-Chambertin
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.
2002 Château de Gevrey-Chambertin, Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Lavaux St.Jacques
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!
2001 Château de Gevrey-Chambertin, Gevrey-Chambertin Vieilles Vignes
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!

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

There are 10 responses to “Profile: Domaine Château de Gevrey-Chambertin (Gevrey)”

  1. Carmine30th September 2009 at 12:58 pmPermalinkReply

    Made my first visit Chateau Gevrey in 1979 buying the 1976 vintage. Madame Masson is quite a character. Those wines and subsequent visits to purchase the 1985, and 1990 vintages showed me that although the wines are very good, they outlive her corks. She uses the smallest cork I’ve seen in Burgundy, and they don’t hold up well. Quite a shame.

  2. billn2nd October 2009 at 5:04 amPermalinkReply

    Dear Carmine – many thanks for your insight. I didn’t meet Mme Masson, though I did have to jump out of the way of her speeding car! I also understand that she is rather ‘single-minded’!

  3. luc11th February 2010 at 11:51 pmPermalinkReply

    Hello. I am luc, the person you are talking about in this explaination and who received you. thank you for talking about the caslte of gevrey.
    I have to say that, of course, we never put our wines in a refrigirator. When we let it taste, it comes from the lower cellar, which is a bit colder than the upper one, where the wines are sold. during the upper season, our wines are open every day, because a lot of people taste it, but it is true that out of the season, they can be kept some days with a vacuvin, because the wine is still good and we don’t need to throw it away, as long as it is. And, as all natural wines, they keep longer than wines which are added with what makes them be keen to the eye and mouth, but not for long years.

    we produce a wine that is not comparable to many others, and it is true that as it is naturally made, it does not fit the american taste that is very industrial and uses lots of chemicals and modern methods, which lead far from the original taste of burgundy wines. That is somethnig rude to say, I know, and I am sorry, but it is true. People’s tastes regarding wines are under the influence of some tasters that say ” this must me that or that”. But nature is nature, and happilly will always be. Even if people are taught to like and other way.

    When you make wine the old way, you take the risk to read, further on, opinions like that, which only reflect the politically and commercially correct way of liking wine, following Parker’s taste, or people that have followed his way of changing the public’s way of liKe.
    we are taking this risk, because we think that more and more, people are going to intend to reach back nature and then natural products.

    Most often, an orange from the tree is not as beautiful as in the supermarket. and some people go on saying that as it has been made with the utmost modern methods, it is better. just close your eyes and open your heart. this will give you the real taste, without the need of anybody to tell you whether it is good or not.
    good tastings !

    • billn13th February 2010 at 8:02 pmPermalinkReply

      Hi Luc,
      Thanks for visiting. I’m sure some americans probably buy your wines 😉

      • luc6th May 2010 at 5:45 pmPermalinkReply

        happily yes, most of those who come do. but still, they are looking for a label prior to a wine when they are visiting the village, and are more interested in finding back what is told about wines in specialized magazines than in just discovering it with a brand new view of it. so it is a big deal for a good number of them to open their mind to the simple fact of getting rid of books and just hold the glass, swirl and smell it the good way, ( which I teach them) without any specific read idea before to taste. I say that, but it does not concern only the american, most of the people do so.
        when I was a little boy, at the foot of the castle, was a big cherry tree, that gave those very special black cherries, not so sugared, but with a delicous, onctuous and unforgettable taste. with this deep, purple juice, that one’s tee shirt may never forget even using the washing machine, after years. And that, then, makes pleasure stains in the heart, that nobody could neither erase. At this time, I was too young to apreciate wine. But old enough to climb the tree, and eat as many cherries as I could, with a mouthfull of these dark summer delight.
        when I grew up, I was taught about wines by my mother, who makes it here. and, what made me fall in love with it was not the name on the label. I had read nothing. I was brand new. And, closing my eyes, I saw it. The cherry tree. It had died at the moment I starded this tasting, and I was missing the time when I was climbing on it. and, in my glass, I found back what I had so saddly lost : the very cherry taste that I never could find in any supermarket nor any other garden. And then, my youth.

        sorry for my english which is not perfect. In french, I would find other words to say that.
        But what I can say is that the word ” Buy” you are mentionning is not my real interest in the whole story. even if writing such things as I can read on the top of this page can make americans choose another wine. What I aim to is to try, if they will, to help people finding their way of liking the wines they are tasting. even if they are not those form the castle of gevrey. But always if they have been made naturally. And with love for wine instead of love for money.
        I’m trying to teach people to taste their own way, with teh simple tools we all have. And with their own memories, that, beware (!) may jump out of the glass to reach your nose and then your whole.

    • Phil Levine11th March 2010 at 10:08 pmPermalinkReply

      bonjour Luc . c’est l’artiste americain. Je vais amener un autre groupe d’artistes/peintres a beaune du 3 au 10 juin et je suis en train de demander l’autorisation de peindre dans les vignobles. J’ai ecrit une lettre a la soeur de Elisabeth (Marie) pour demander.


      Philip Levine

      • luc6th May 2010 at 5:46 pmPermalinkReply

        Bonjour philippe. si je suis là, je vous accueillerai avec plaisir

    • Wendy Nield4th August 2010 at 3:55 pmPermalinkReply

      Luc, your description of the cherry tree and your early experience with wine was beautifully painted. I can’t wait to visit!

  4. Nate7th July 2010 at 4:13 amPermalinkReply


    I visited your Chateau in September of 2005 and had a wonderful tasting with Elizabeth in the lower room.

    The Premiere Cru Lavaux-St-Jacques was simply amazing, to this day I have never another wine that rivaled that.


  5. luc5th August 2010 at 11:56 amPermalinkReply

    hello Wendy And Nate
    Thank you, Nate, for your telling your lavaux saint jacques tasting. I am glad to know that you likes it. Now, we have the vieille vigne, ( 90 years old) which is wonderful too.
    thank you Wendy, and Bill, ( who gave my mail to wendy) to have come to the castle for a wine tour this day. It was a great pleasure to me to welcome you !

  6. Frank Bird6th July 2011 at 9:34 amPermalinkReply

    My wife and I visited the Chateau in 1991 and at that time bought a bottle of the 1990 and also the 1991 Laveaux. It has been cellared since then. Is it ready to drink yet or should we leave it for some time.
    Hope to hear from you soon Luc.
    Kind regards
    Frank Bird

  7. Paul Garber11th June 2012 at 2:27 amPermalinkReply

    Hi Luc,
    My very first winery tasting was at your Château, I think in 1987. After a wonderful tour, Mme. Masson, brought me down to the very cool cellar. While sampling three vintages from 1985, she told me about how in the past some unlucky invaders who attempted to attack the Château would end up starving to death in la cave des oubliettes. When I commented that I didn’t think that was very nice, she replied, “Ils n’avaient qu’a ne pas venir.”

    I’ve returned a few times to visit, but the last time was too long ago, ten years ago in 2002. At that time, I purchased two bottles: Clos du Château (Monopole) and a Premier Cru, both from 2000. I still have them cellared, and am wondering if you think it is time to open them, or are they still getting better with age?


  8. keith wollenberg21st August 2012 at 7:51 pmPermalinkReply

    An now, the Chateau passes form the family to a chinese buyer…

    • billn22nd August 2012 at 7:26 amPermalinkReply

      And as you can see Keith, this has not gone down well with the locals. Like myself (I suppose) it is less to do with where the buyers come from, but rather that it is ultimately sad that a local solution could not be found, despite the local will. Perhaps in the end those local pockets were not quite deep enough – $8million is a lot for 2 hectares, mainly in villages appellations – but what villages vines!

      I’ve little doubt that that whatever management takes over the domaine, the quality of the wien must improve…

  9. Maurice Gallagher24th August 2012 at 2:07 pmPermalinkReply

    My wife and I were treated to a fascinating lecture by Mme Elisabeth. She pointed out that the 70cl bottle of the Gauls is stil superior for holding wine than the newer Roman litre bottles. She had quite a few swipes at the Romans as well as the Germans who took the Chateau over during their occupation. About 2 years ago when we were nearby we were told Mme Elisabeth was still alive and feisty as ever. Sad to hear of her death. What age was she?
    Maurice & Gallagher

  10. Tony Setteducate14th September 2014 at 5:27 pmPermalinkReply

    Today, in searching the Internet I learned that a part of my youth has passed on. While a student in Dijon during the early 1960’s a met a young female student, Elisabeth Masson, looking for Americans to practice her English. We became good friends and she introduced me to her family. They lived in the ancient Château de Gevrey-Chambertin, run by her mother who drove a “deux chevaux,” the most economical car in its day. For my 25th birthday I was presented with several bottles of the family’s legendary wine. I attended her wedding, an affair with medieval overtones including the sounding of the trumpets from the turrets at the castle. Today I discovered that she died in 2011 and the chateau was sold. I have so many fond memories of this time in my life.

    • Katherine Beauchamp15th May 2019 at 2:19 amPermalinkReply

      IN 1972 I was dreaming of grapepicking in France met Luc in his Deux Cheveux when I was hitchhiking in Ireland and he invited myself, my sister and an American friend to “faire les vendanges” in the vineyards of Chevre Chambertin. We worked from dawn to about four in Autumn light, I have never become more fit nor more alive to the world around me. We slept in a stone cottage by the chateau and washed in icy water before ourselves, a number of paysans from the village and a team of young boys with their social worker from Paris were driven out to the vineyards. Lunch was three superb courses eaten off trestle tables in the castle, with Madame Elisabeth walking up and down between the tables in her perfectly coiffed hair and Parisienne suits and heels, I recall powder blues and warm beiges. The village was closed for alcohol but the social worker managed to smuggle some Marc in and we had sugar cubes soaked in it – ” un canard” which instantly lit up your insides. One morning sitting on the tail of the camillon two villagers were pointing to a newspaper article saying that machines were coming to replace their work. I shared their rage and dismay and wrote a poem about it which I still have. I am glad the Massons didn’t go in that direction. As we stood up from time to time, from the grapes which were at ground level, to stretch and take in the paradis stretching out around us I might see black limousines slink along the narrow lanes between plantings, with tinted windows. These were touristes americaines. I felt so sorry for them. They were thinking they were having an experience.

      I too have a cherry tree in my garden in Australia, which gives black cherries of explosive rich quite tart flavour that most other people think is a mistake. I wonder if Luc sold because there arent enough people left who respect Nature as it is.

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