Tasted with Mlle Camus in Gevrey-Chambertin, 13 November 2017. Pictured left with her father Hubert who was freshly back from the vines.
Domaine Camus Père et Fils
21 rue Mal de Lattre de Tassigny
Tel. +33 (0)3 80 34 30 64
Nothing much has changed here, Hubert still does the bulk of the work in the cuverie and in the vines on his tractor – hes almost 80 years old.
Mlle Camus explains the current commercial situation at the domaine “There’s simply enormous demand so managing stock is not easy – the demand comes from the US and China. In the end we’ve decided to delay the introduction of new vintages, we have literally just begun to offer our 2013s and we will keep 2014 and 2015 back for now. 2015 and 2016 are really for keeping – they are super – but people want to drink them straight away so its good that we are not commercialising. I think 6-8 years should be the minimum time to wait.
“2017 was just what we needed from the perspective of stocks – 2011 was the last normal volume vintage. we were down about 20% in 2016 and typically it’s been minus 20-30% between 2011 and 2017. In recent years all the Mazoyères has been sold as grapes, but we have reduced some of our grape sales because we had so little stock.”
Given their position as owners of 12 hectares of Gevrey’s grand crus, I asked Mlle Camus for her thoughts on the recent transaction concerning the Clos de Tart in Morey St.Denis: “For us it’s a big problem. There were 29 family members of the Mommessins – so what could they do with buyers willing to pay such sums as Arnaud, Pinault the Americans and the Chinese? How can children follow their parents? It’s just so expensive for a domaine to change generations – you have to pay three times – there’s the tax for succession, the tax for the value of the vines, the tax for the stocks. And even if you have the vines you are deluged by administration in the office – and its the same at harvest time. We’ve lost a little of the folklore of the harvest, because we can hardly get French-speaking vendangeurs – people do ask if they can come to harvest for half a day, but it’s not allowed – it’s almost like were being pushed into harvesting with machines! The prices are also madness – we don’t set the prices but they are clearly exorbitant – 150 Euros per kilo of grapes for Chambertin in 2016 – and that’s collected at the vines!”
You don’t get to taste from barrel here, only what is currently ‘commercial.’ The wines at the lower end (unfortunately I include Charmes-Chambertin in that), even factoring-in the change to the 2013 vintage (from largely 2016) are really uninteresting, but I had a more than pleasant surprise from the Latricières onwards. I am always compelled to discuss this domaine from the perspective of value for money. You can take away the Latricières from here for €48 (by appointment!) – virtually everywhere else in Gevrey-Chambertin a Lavaux St.Jacques from a domaine will start at €60 and due to grape prices a négoce wine will start at more like €85. This Latricières is better than 90% of those wines – drink what’s in the glass at the price you paid, only afterwards think about the label. Likewise you can make your own calculation for the good Chambertin, below at €72, i.e. still cheaper than a Lavaux. Even if the wines could/should be better, they are already compelling at their price-points – except the €20 Gevrey villages!
A wide and very faintly spiced nose – modest of colour. Supple, wide, plenty of acidity. Slowly melting flavour. This if frank but has a decent intensity in the finish. Modest starting, a little better finishing.
From Aux Charmes. ‘Great-great grandfather Camus said that the Route des Grands Crus was, at one time below aux Charmes, so it could have been in Chambertin if they hadn’t changed the route!’
A deeper colour. A deeper nose too with a little twist of spice on an otherwise tight nose. Supple, round, some freshness, more depth of texture and flavour. This is pretty good, there is a little freshness to the structure in the mid-palate – “Yes, for us this is very young” – but with an attractive bitterness in the long finishing flavours – barrel tannin it seems, still! It needs to be better, even at the €45 tariff…
Less deep but a much more engaging width of aroma. Ooh, that’s rather good – it has volume too, just an ounce of cushioning and a very nice texture to go with it. Like the others a twist of bitters in the finish. This is young, slightly saline, long, baby wine – and very Latricières – for less than 50 euros, there is great value here…
Ooh, this is really an attractive nose – a very inviting width of good aroma with a touch of oak showing on this one. Cooler, fresh, more direct, more energy, lots of flavour – faintly barrel-infected, really a fine tannin. Broad finishing flavour, bitter notes from the extraction but really a superior length here – very impressive wine, and half the price of a négoce Lavaux… like the Latricières, ~50 euros…
Lots of width but this is a tight nose – the depth is only hinted at. Good volume, silk for texture. A little growth of tannin but really its submerged in very good material. This is supple and has good practically accessible concentration – despite its youth. Medium breadth of finish but long, long, long – the merest suggestion of saline astringence here. Very good and very young wine, still far cheaper than a négoce Lavaux – €72…