One of the first things you learn about Domaine Bertrand Machard de Gramont, is its location. The domaine’s website, French ‘yellow pages’, and Google will all have you believe that the domaine is headquartered in the Rue de Vergy in Nuits St.Georges, but your navigation software soon lays bare this myth as you find yourself in the midst of modest domestic dwellings without a hint of barrel toast – this is when you realise (with the aid of your phone) that the winery is actually in Curtil-Vergy in the Hautes Côtes – a very pretty plateau that sits above (and between) Nuits St.Georges and Vosne-Romanée, where you will also find the old Abbey of Saint-Vivant – but even at this late stage, you still have a chance to be less than 15 minutes late for your appointment!
Domaine Bertrand Machard de Gramont is now run by Axelle Machard de Gramont, whose grandmother was a Dufouleur. The domaine was created by Axelle’s father, Bertrand in 1983, before that he had worked the family vines with his brothers, and still further back, he worked for a number of years with Comte Georges de Vogüé in Chambolle-Musigny.
One of Axelle’s uncles, Xavier, was married to Chantal Lescure and in 1975 they had a large, 32 hectare domaine together, the vines spread up and down the Côte d’Or. Following family changes, this domaine was split into three:
- The 18 hectare Domaine Chantal Lescure (Nuits) which was run by Chantal’s sons Aymeric et Thibault Machard de Gramont following her death in 1996. Today it is Thibault, helped by François Chavériat who runs the domaine.
- The 20 hectare Domaine Machard de Gramont in (Premeaux), slightly more Côte de Beaune focused, and run by Arnaud Machard de Gramont with his two sons (Alban & Alexis)
- The 6 hectare Domaine Bertrand Machard de Gramont (Nuits – sort-of!), the subject of this visit./li>
Vines and wines…
Despite the location of the domaine’s cuverie, a modest 0.6 hectare of Vosne-Romanée and a little Aligoté in the Hautes Côtes de Nuits (near the cuverie and the Abbey of Saint-Vivant on the Coline de Vergey) are the only vines of the domaine from outside the boundaries of Nuits St.Georges. Indeed the domaine started life in the Buildings of Liger-Belair in Nuits before moving recently moving to Curtil-Vergy, where they own part of the current building but have a quieter and more modern environment.
Axelle will happily great people in French, English or Italian. As a 20 year-old, she preferred to live in Paris. It took fifteen years, but something eventually drew her back to the Côte d’Or in 2004. Taking charge of the domaine, Axelle stopped using herbicides, started working organically, and has spent the last two years on a conversion to Bio.
The domaine has an interesting selection of wines, but Nuits St.Georges Les Vallerots and Les Terraces de Vallerots are fascinating: Vallerots sits above Vaucrains, and was planted by Bertrand in 1984 – he bought ‘en friche’ (unplanted) and started by planting half a hectare – apparently it took years for Bertrand to buy the disparate unplanted plots. Vallerots is high on the hill, set below a ridge of pines. Leading up to Vallerots is a row of terraces which Bertrand shored-up with great slabs of limestone to prevent erosion. Most of this area had been left unplanted since the times of Phylloxera, but in 2000 Bertrand planed a further 2 hectares. As you might expect given a height difference of about 32 metres from bottom to top, the terraces mature at a slightly different rate, in 2011 for first time Axelle made two harvests here “it’s not homogenous” says Axelle “there can be two weeks difference in maturity”. Axelle notes that they are slowly clearing another 2 hectares for planting and likes that it has been unplanted for so long – as there have been no chemical treatments here…
Tasted with Axelle Machard de Gramont, 21st June 2012. The majority of 2010s were bottled, though one or two were still waiting, assembled in tank, waiting their turn. This was a simply lovely selection of wines – There are no hard tannins in 2010 notes Axelle – they are the best of Curtil-Vergy and indeed, one of the best of Nuits too – I’m a buyer.
The nose is really inviting; creamy, round and a little powdery. Despite the plush texture there is very good acidity. A fruit-driven wine that surprises with its length of flavour. Lovely.
From the commune of Nuits – on the eastern side of the D974, opposite of Les Poirets – some of the vines were lost here due to the temperature plunge one night in December 09
Medium, medium-plus colour. The nose starts a little powdery before a more alluring floral note lifts from the glass – really very pretty. Round, showing a nice depth – definitely more than your average BPN – and a lingering finish with a twist of licorice. Impressive.
Medium, medium-plus colour. The nose is fuller and deeper, a dark note becoming redder and more raspberry as it grows in the glass – lovely. Bigger, even more round, even more tasty depth. I find this super.
From a plot of fifty year-old vines that touch on the Pruliers 1er cru.
Wider and more complex aromas after the Vallerots – a mélange of warm summer fruit over a faint background of crème-brûlée. In the mouth this is silky and intense – lovely texture and perhaps there’s a hint of licorice again. The acidity is quite understated but supporting enough.
From four parcels of vines, two of which from below the village – a mix of older and younger vines. This wine is assembled in tank for bottling.
Rather elegant and certainly with the spice you might hope for. The flavour and the concentration slowly creep up on you and seems to keep growing after you swallow – for a short while. Nice diminuendo of flavour. This is very lovely.
This is a younger vines cuvée (since 2004) of Les Vallerots – no new oak, less extraction and faster vinification.
The nose has much less impact but remains quite fine with a hint of flowers. The acidity is higher but the depth of flavour is a good foil. I would drink (and enjoy!) this over the next 12 months or-so, before the acidity slowly begins to dominate.
The domaine’s only (Nuits) parcel on the ‘Vosne-side’ of Nuits, just below 1er Les Chabeoufs – plenty of old vines here.
The nose isn’t super-deep, but it has a complex and engaging character about it. Again there is plenty of acidity but padded-out with a plusher texture than the last wine. Quite complex, this is a pretty wine with a hint of minerality in the finish.
The colour is much deeper than the same from 2008. Plenty of reduction on the nose, but it’s gone from the glass in 3 or 4 minutes, leaving a deep, almost textured nose. This wine wraps around your tongue with its friendly, soft texture – yet there is depth too. An enveloping wine…