Romaric Chavy is the 7th generation of the family to work their vines. The activity of filling bottles only started in 1982 with Romaric’s grandfather – before they supplied everything to the négoce. That first vintage began with 4,000 bottles – by 2005 Romaric’s father, Hubert was bottling up to 25,000 bottles – once Romaric finished his ‘school’ in Beaune (2006) they started filling 80,000 bottles – just a few barrels still go to the négoce. Romaric also had spells working abroad, and in Burgundy with his godfather, Francois Mikulski.
The Chouet in the domaine’s name refers to Hubert’s ‘first wife’ – when ‘first’ became ‘apparent’ there were some subsequent vintages where the label became only ‘Hubert Chavy’ but Romaric is heading back to the Chavy-Chouet! The domaine’s main market is now in Europe, though the USA was interesting before the recent financial crisis. The wines still manage to find nice homes in the trade though, ending up in the cellars of London’s Claridges plus the Dorchester, various Ducasse restaurants and also El-Bulli when it is/was open. There is also the label ‘Maison Chavy-Chouet’ which produces a few Côte de Nuits wine.
The domaine is quite large with almost thirteen hectares spread across five villages; Meursault, Puligny-Montrachet, St.Aubin, Volnay and Pommard – many vines coming from Romaric’s Grandmother who was a Ropiteau. They recently added a little more land in the lieu-dits of Meursault-Vireuils and Puligny-Les Meix. Meursault and Puligny account for about 70% of the domaine’s output; there are many parcels of Meursault but don’t bottle all of them, the main ones are; Castets, Narvaux, Clos des Corvées de Citeaux, Charmes and Genevrières. Puligny’s main wine is Ensegnières but they also have Folatières, Chalumaux, Champsgains and Hameau du Blagny too. The Bourgogne rouge (La Taupe) comes from next to the Château Pommard – 8,000 bottles from old vines that give plenty of colour a little rusticity but still quite soft. A very small amount of Volnay, just 500 hundred bottles – 300 should be villages and two hundred are premier cru (Carelle sous la Chapelle) but they are bottled together as villages. There is also 0.4 hectares of Pommard 1er Chanlins – “with the reds we have just enough that we can sell them well!”
The domaine is currently managing their vines through ‘lutte raisonée’ and they prefer to plough the soil. The year 2008 was ‘fully organic’ “we try to stay ‘clean’ but we want to have the best grapes so we won’t try anything ‘impossible’. It will depend on the year, 2008 was very difficult but we managed to stay organic.” Everything is hand-picked by 30-40 pickers – they need about ten days for the whole estate. The grapes are pressed then stay in tank for three or four days before moving via gravity into the barrels. There’s a light battonage – “only three or four times until the main fermentation is finished – we look for freshness not creaminess.”
Gillet is the main supplier of barrels – and for almost thirty years. “We have followed him since he set up his own business and we remain happy with the results. We use an average 30% new oak which would split from 25 to 50% depending on the cuvée. Wines are bottled after about 12 months with quite a lot of CO2, which means they are not quite sparkling, but remain quite fresh.”
A few wines tasted in Meursault 30th November 2010.
“We try to avoid the sweet vanilla taste” says Romaric – and to my palate – what a success, even the 2009 Genevrières is a lovely lithe, fresh and mineral wine.
Just 20 metres from the Puligny villages appellation, from vines that almost wrap around the winery of Château du Puligny-Montrachet. An important cuvée for the domaine as there are almost 10,000 bottles. Fresh, clean aromas, eventually a little herb and more fruit. There is plenty of depth and just a little padding too. The acidity is the first impression but there’s no lack of balance eventually. Almost good.
More aromatic depth with some green herbs. Concentrated and showing good acidity and intensity. In the middle this is quite mineral before a slightly savoury finish. This is very good – I like it – no ‘old-style Genevrières flab here!
Part of the appellation of l’Ormeau; 0.96 hectares which was an old property of the Cistercian monks who made a two metre wall around the vines, consequently it’s a hot place on a summer afternoon – one of the earliest ripening plots in Meursault. The nose is forward, wider and a hint sweeter. Concentrated and quite full in the mouth and not a little rich. ‘Cliché Meursault’ but a good one with fine length.
The nose has a width of aromas, initially just a little diffuse but focus improves in the glass. There is lovely attack and a smooth texture. Just enough acidity – this is lovely.
31 Rue de Mazeray