Tasted in Gevrey-Chambertin with Sylvie Esmonin, 29 Novewmber 2019.
Domaine Sylvie Esmonin
1 Rue Neuve
Tel: +33 3 80 34 36 44
There are a whole bunch of Gevrey producers that I hardly visit anymore, principally because I taste a selection of their wines at the Syndicate de Gevrey-Chambertin’s, Roi Chambertin, tasting. But it’s good the make the extra effort sometimes!
The Esmonin family’s connection to the domaine’s vines is much older than their ownership of those vines. Sylvie’s grandfather worked for the Comte de Moucheron who had the monopoly of Gevrey’s famous Clos Saint Jacques vineyard. In the 1950s when the Comte decided to sell up in Gevrey, Sylvie’s grandfather bought both a portion of the Clos Saint Jacques and the house and buildings that adjoined it – you could say the Clos is their garden. The domaine’s address is an old Gevrey joke – ‘New Road’ – hmm, perhaps in the twelfth century; this is the oldest part of Gevrey right at the top of the village between the church and Gevrey’s Château.
It was Sylvie’s father, Michel Esmonin, who began to develop the domaine though he sold the wines in bulk to the négoce; so Sylvie had a simple condition before joining her father at the domaine – that they should domaine-bottle their entire production – Michel agreed! Sylvie had previously studied oenology in Dijon and worked for some time as a consulting oenologist but came back to Gevrey just in time to help vinify the 1990 vintage. Initially, Michel and Sylvie made all the decisions together; progressively Sylvie took on more responsibility.
At not much over five hectares, the domaine is relatively modest in size, but those hectares have a strong focus on Gevrey-Chambertin – small amounts of Volnay Santenots and a Bourgogne Blanc from near Meursault are simply described as ‘anecdotes’ by Sylvie. The domaine’s jewel is that most iconic of wines to sport a Gevrey label – 1.6 hectares of Clos Saint Jacques.
Sylvie is known for wines that are redolent of their stems, but not all of the grapes are destemmed – it depends on the cuvée – often, there’s complete destemming of the Bourgogne Rouge and the Côte de Nuits Villages (fruit from Brochon), but that depends on the vintage, there can be about thirty percent whole clusters in the Gevrey Villages, sixty percent in the Gevrey Vieilles Vignes and seventy percent in the Clos St.Jacques – “The stems bring a certain energy, but I also don’t make a Clos St.Jacques so that it tastes good at bottling, I make it so it starts to taste good when its ten years old – as an absolute minimum!” says Sylvie.
Sylvie on 2019:
“We’ve a nice series of harvests from the quality perspective, volumes have been lower though but that’s the climate that we have just now – the high temperatures really don’t promote growth of the grapes. I think that we were probably about 30% down in 2019 – we had about 27 hl/ha.”
Sylvie on 2018:
“2018 is a vintage of warmth and medium volumes. The winter was wet, cold and still wet again in the springtime. This led to some mildew pressure – we always have pressure from something! I accept certain losses because I can’t be making 15-16 treatments – but 35 hl/ha here was very acceptable – I did 8 treatments. It was hot during harvest time too, we started 9th September and finished the 15th – it was a quick one! It’s hard today with social media, you see that someone is harvesting very early, but it could be a very young vine – you don’t know. But for me, ripe is important because I use the stems and I like that velour, but ripe doesn’t mean too ripe! I’ve quite a cool cellar, some of my malos only finished in September – that’s always possible when you use whole clusters and then crush whole grapes at the end of fermentation, liberating more sugar – so I won’t be considering bottling before the springtime but it will depend on the weather – typically not before Easter though.”
Sylvie has the deep colours of the vintage, but she also has some nicely sweeping lines in the fresh shapes of her wines. I see that all will benefit from some patience but their intrinsic quality is very high – you will only be waiting for them to show a little more generosity – I noted no woody notes at all. It’s an excellent range with some great wines. In some vintages her Gevrey VV is one of the greatest of villages Gevreys – it’s not far off in 2018!
2018 Bourgogne Pinot Noir
A good surface of 0.8 ha but these are old vines in the bottom of Gevrey, so the yield is not high. This was 90% destemmed.
Lots of colour. A nice aroma, a wide and silky impression. Hmm, that’s mouth-filling and impressive, waves of flavour. Good freshness. Excellent Bourgogne.
2018 Cote de Nuits Villages
Here from Brochon
A little less colour. A bigger nose, more freshness and energy – this is very inviting. Full but open, a little tannin, mobile flavour. Wide finishing – give this a little time but it’s excellent – a great finish too.
Also old vines the second (VV) villages cuvée is actually TVV says Sylvie. Stony here, ‘Which brings a wine with a little more finesse.’
Super depth of colour. Darker, almost some graphite style minerality on show. More incisive, fine freshness, a wine of drive, energy and complexity – it will need a couple of years of patience, but the finish is a good one with plenty of licorice on display.
A more vertical nose, suggesting florals at the top. More mineral, more direct, narrower, melting with fresh flavour, Concentrated but not rich. Very, very long. That’s a great wine – bravo!
Not a big nose, but one of much more width, slowly becoming more complex and suggesting roses. Hmm – now that’s fine – elegant – open, more purity, more depth, but again not a wine of fat or richness. Contemplative but not lacking any freshness. Ooh – that’s so good. Fine finishing waves of flavour – so long. This needs a little more elevage, but it could be a great one!