Profile: Pierre Damoy

Update 3.2.2019(22.12.2018)billn

Tasted in Gevrey-Chambertin with Pierre Damoy, 30 November 2018.

Domaine Pierre Damoy
11 Rue Mal de Lattre de Tassigny
21220 Gevrey-Chambertin
Tel: +33 3 80 34 30 47

It’s been quite a while since I tasted at this domaine, but that’s because Pierre presents some of his wines each year at the Roi Chambertin. But then I realised that (apart from in my first book) I have never profiled the domaine on this website. So:

Pierre likes to blame some of his actions on his ‘Catalan roots‘ – his grandfather was Catalonian – he says “That’s why I like wines with a core, with material!

This eleven hectare domaine owns close to half of both the Chapelle-Chambertin and the Clos de Bèze Grand Crus, there is also a more than decently sized parcel – 1 hectare – of Chambertin too. Given that almost seventy-five percent of the domaine’s vines are classified as Grand Cru you can joke that at this domaine you are forced to buy some Grand Cru if you want to take some Bourgogne Rouge!

The estate was started by Pierre’s great, great-grandfather, Julien, and has never been divided; all the shares remain in the family; Pierre who took over from his uncle, Jacques Damoy, in 1992 and once told me “Working with your family is never easy but we have five generations of shared history here.” Damoy is also an important source of grapes for some of the merchants of Beaune who have fixed areas set aside for them on long-term contracts. He buys some grapes too, usually for the lower appellations – “I buy less and less in grapes, but when I buy I’m expecting great stuff.

Pierre has a background in agricultural research, and despite using many biodynamic treatments he is very unhappy with what he sees as organic viticulture’s ‘over-reliance‘ on copper compounds in the vineyard, so would never wish to be ‘classed’ as Biodynamic – but he seems happy with words like durable or sustainable. His soils are ploughed and neither herbicides nor pesticides are used in the vineyards; “The soil is everything to me – I wouldn’t use anything that affects it.” It is clear that with his work in the cuverie and the vines, Pierre has returned this once under-performing domaine to a position of relevance for all of us who are interested in good wine.

Pierre harvests reasonably late, but doesn’t see it as a mantra, or that he has to be last in the vines – “I have no interest in what the degrees are, for me it is the ripeness that is important – there are anyway some Spanish yeasts that you can use which will ‘lose’ 0.7° of alcohol during the fermentation” he winks – thgough he hastens to add that he doesn’t use them, yet! He has some advantages compared to most domaines in that a majority of his vines were planted in the early 1920s by his great-grandfather, so he already starts with a high base quality – “I walk a lot in my vines, tasting, I think I know them quite well,” and you know that when Pierre talks about his young vines, he’s talking about vines planted in the 1970s! For his fermentations he would prefer to use either all whole clusters or none, but in practice it is usually somewhere in-between, saying “Because I like to harvest late, the acidity is anyway not at its highest, hence, I have to be careful not to reduce it further with too many stems.” Pierre is also not the biggest fan of sulfur during elevage – “I don’t use much sulfur as it gives me a bad head!” Pierre even makes a special selection cuvée of his Clos de Bèze, though usually you will have wait to get some “Some vintages have not yet been released, and I’m talking about old vintages. Some of these 1920s vines deliver very serious wine, almost brutal, but it’s the ground. In a dry vintage there can be 3 barrels in a wet one, just one – it’s counter-intuitive…

Pierre notes that “I press very differently now – lighter and longer – and the wines are much less tight after bottling, they are much easier to drink versus before,” but he still hopes that they last well too!

Pierre on 2018:
Quite a complicated vintage – we had the climate of Singapore – rain but 35°C. The vines had their feet in the water and their heads in the dry – they exploded with growth. Because of that it was complicated to stay organic, the ground was drier in Gevrey than it was in Fixin though. It was so hard to treat in Fixin and I lost a lot there because of that. But the middle of the the growing season was warm and dry. I decided to wait for full maturity – it was 11 September I started my harvest. The volume wasn’t great overall, also in Gevrey I had 20-30% less than usual. So not a big average yield, but the volumes were variable from low to high quantities – so irregular.

Pierre on 2017:
The 2017 harvest was 12 September, practically the same as in 2018 – I like to start on a Tuesday, I’m not a fan of starting on Mondays! There was less green harvesting to do in 2017 than in 2018, note that I lost nearly 60% of my production to the frost in 2016. 2017 was a more regular production than in 2018, I was expecting a modest vintage, but the wines have turned out very well.

The wines…

A great source of great bottles in the last years – 2017 is no different as depth and concentration is to be found – but with no lack of finesse.

Apart from the two Bourgognes, which are in tank, Pierre is waiting for the right moon in January to do more racking and assembling. “It’s not a vintage for staying too long in barrel, I’m looking to keep the finesse and fruit that I see without the barrels drying the wines.” Bottling in march probably.

2017 Bourgogne Blanc Les Ravries
Large format barrels and just a small amount of sulfur during elevage. This is now in tank – the bourgogne rouge also – but these are the only ones. Both bourgognes come from Fixin. I think the label ‘Côte d’Or’ a little elitist.
A vibrant, low sulfur nose – actually it’s not quite finished its sugar yet! The aroma is slowly opening and becoming quite perfumed. Round, intense, some layers to the fresh flavour. Sneakily long!

20176 Bourgogne Rouge
An assembly of 4 cuvées, three next to each other in Fixin.
Deep colour. A deep and voluminous nose, dark fruited. Large, saline-infected, big wine concentrated and energetic. Long too. A big wine indeed a great wine too for the label…

2017 Fixin La Mogottes
This a négoce wine, actually a vineyard that’s rented and then Pierre pays for the grapes. Vines in terraces here, but still a soil with great drainage.
Ooh, dark, deep, silky, growing floral notes. Big, open, concentrated, waves of great finishing flavour with a touch of tannin. Excellent

2017 Gevrey-Chambertin
Croix des Champs, Etelois, Champs-Chorey and Corvées
Deeply coloured. Fresh, a width of silky dark fruit. Ooh, wide, weighty but fresh, flavour with a depth and sucrosity. Modest intensity finish, but not lacking any length – super.

2017 Gevrey-Chambertin Clos Tamisot
I mentioned to Pierre that this was a wine that often smelled better than 1er Crus, but rarely tasted as good; ‘Yes, for a long time I made this with only about 20 hl/ha but it was too serious. Now it’s at 30 and its a much more complete wine.’
A beautiful nose, open and perfumed. Open, complex, depth of great flavour, this is really something, a very good 1er cru quality here today… long and great in the finish too. Bravo!
2017 Chapelle-Chambertin
Omg – what a fabulous nose! – As good as you will find in a baby wine – not just a blend of flowers and fruit, but some kind of synthesis – gorgeous. Sweet, round, layered, almost a coffee in the mid palate flavour and texture, like the other long but not forceful – great wine.

2017 Chambertin
An aroma that recalls the last wine, a hint less intense but with a pepper spice. Open, complex, and energetic, not a richness like the Chapelle, but open and so complex – very different. A more powerful finish, floral finishing.

2017 Chambertin Clos de Bèze
Ooh, that’s great. Not the biggest nose, less than the last wines – but SUCH a great nose. Refined, gorgeously textured, layered, rich even, but never at the expense of balance. Like the Chambertin there’s such a persistent weight of finishing flavour. Bravo!

2017 Cuvée du Patron Clos du Bèze Reserve
Deep, serious, no flowers here. Big depth, layers, great tannic, velvet, texture, no astringency – “There’s no urgency to bottle,” smiles Pierre!

2013 Chambertin Clos de Bèze
Finished this harvest 16 October, “I kept waiting for the rain to finish – it never did – until it snowed!”
Large, complex, energetic, a grain of tannin and so long – ooh that’s good. Behind the 17s today but tasty and long. Absolutely no rush.

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