This is a domaine who I’ve had some very nice experiences with, mainly from wines in the 1999-2001 bracket so I thought it would be good to pay a visit and learn a little more.
There are two labels here; Domaine des Estournelles which is the ‘domaine viticole’ – just three and a half hectares – and Frédéric Esmonin which covers the négoce wines. Of, perhaps, sixty thousand bottles per year, by volume there is just a little more négoce wine today, mainly from ‘smaller labels’ such as Bourgogne; though until 2004 they had some more interesting labels under a metayage agreement with Domaine Thomas-Moillard which brought-in Bonnes-Mares, Chambertin and Clos de Bèze. I was once a fan of their Griotte-Chambertin too, but the contract for that ended with the 1999 vintage – I still have a few bottles!
Frédéric is in his mid-forties but has limited mobility so is still supported by his father André and mother Michelle – and of-course Michelle’s two basset-hounds – Sylvie Esmonin is a cousin. André had previously sold all the produce of the domaine to a quite decent selection of négoce: Drouhin, Jadot and Leroy. Starting in 1988 they began to commercialise their own bottles. About 1/3rd of the wines go to the US, but UK and Japan are well represented, the wines are little known in France; “we have good quality price relationship, so we always have more demand than wine” says Frédéric. Already at the start of 2011, the only wines you could buy at the domaine were subscriptions for the 2010s.
In the vines they work as ‘lutte raissonée’ and regularly plough their soils, there have have been no hebicides at the domaine for over ten years though they use an insecticide which is accepted as ‘bio’. The wines are made with 100% destemmed grapes, cold macerated for 4-5 days before the fermentation begins. As much as sixty percent new oak is used – but it seems very well judged as, save for the occasional whiff of vanilla in a young wine, I note little obvious oak flavour or texture.
Together with Louis Jadot, Esmonin has the lion’s share of Estournelles St.Jacques – it’s high on the hill but faces directly south and gets lots of sun – indeed always the last rays of the sun – the soil is a little sandy with a clay and limestone base which brings finesse but good concentration too – they are very happy with the old vines there as they always deliver small concentrated grapes. Their parcel of Ruchottes sits directly below the Clos des Ruchottes of Armand Rousseau.
Tasted in Gevrey, 23rd March 2011. We took a tour of the 2010s in the long and tidy cellar of the domaine; Estournelles St.Jacques, Ruchottes-Chambertin, Mazis-Chambertin – mainly too much CO2 to warrant comment but they look excellent with a little more tannin and acidity versus the 09s – the wines that follow were all in bottle. 2009s were bottled quite early; clean they needed no racking, just 4 or 5 days for the lees to settle. The domaine decided their 09s were forward wines for drinking relatively early – unlike both 2008 and 2010. One tranche was bottled just before the harvest another at the beginning of October.
Overall these are good, honest, tasty wines with not a hint of rusticity. They are not the most intense or mineral examples, but they are very well-priced examples – the quality of some of the older vintages in my cellar indicate that maybe I underplay their quality – but suffice to say, I am happy to buy them.
The nose offers a nice, slightly creamy red fruit. Very good balance, plenty of extract and long too – good fruit, not too sweet.
Again there’s a creamy edge to the aroma of red fruit. More extract here with finely grained tannin. The flavour builds a little in the mid-palate then holds a linear course into the finish. The flavour is a little stony in the finish.
Dark red cherry fruit; the nose gives a smooth impression, eventually adding a note of violets too – lovely! Very fine tannin and a good extract – nice wine, one of finesse, I like it very much.
The fruit has a darker complexion, initially less open but finely detailed – finally there is a more red fruit too. Lots of extract, not super-sweet for an 09, again with plenty of fine-grained tannin. This wine seems a little looser knit than the Estournelles but the supporting intensity is good, as is the length. Needs some time for focus I think.
Domaine Frédéric Esmonin
12 Rue du Chêne
21220, Gevrey Chambertin
Tel. +33 (0)9 79 66 20 27
Fax. +33 (0)3 80 34 14 24