Gevrey-Chambertin is the largest wine-producing village in Burgundy’s Côte d’Or, with its vineyards spilling over into the next door commune of Brochon.
Located in the far north of the Côtes de Nuits above Morey St Denis, classic Gevrey Chambertin is typically deeper in colour, firmer in body and more tannic in structure than most red Burgundy. The best can develop into the richest, most complete and long-lived Pinot Noir in the world. This is largely thanks to the iron-rich clay soils, though much depends on whether the vineyard is located on either the steeper slopes or the richer, flatter soils.
Whereas in the past there have been numerous underperformers in Gevrey-Chambertin, exploiting the reputation of this famous village and its iconic Grand Crus, today there are many fine sources to choose from, and overall quality is higher than ever.
Gevrey-Chambertin’s greatest Grand Cru is named after the field of the monk Bertin (Champ de Bertin). In 1847 Gevrey appended the name of this illustrious vineyard, Chambertin, starting a trend for the other main villages to follow. Le Chambertin may not be quite as sumptuous as Musigny or Richebourg or as divinely elegant as La Tâche or Romanée St Vivant, but it is matched only by the legendary Romanée-Conti for completeness and luscious intensity.
In all Gevrey boasts an impressive 9 Grands Crus, with the name of Chambertin retaining a regal omnipresence throughout its finest vineyard names. The other truly great Grand Cru is Chambertin Clos de Bèze which has the right to sell its wines simply as ‘Chambertin’ and is the only wine allowed to put the Chambertin name before, rather than after, its own. Situated slightly further up the hill, the wines are fractionally less powerful but are full of sensual charm and finesse.
Quality-wise the next best are generally acknowledged to be Mazis- (or Mazy-) Chambertin and Latricières-Chambertin. The former is incredibly concentrated and very fine but its structure is a little less firm than Le Chambertin. Latricières is less about power, although it can be explosively fruity, and more about an entrancing silkiness.
Situated slightly higher up the slope, Ruchottes-Chambertin is impressively rich, stylish and slightly angular. The tiny Griottes-Chambertin, which owes its name to the grill-pan shape of the vineyard rather than the wine’s Griottes cherry aroma, is lower down the slope and boasts a velvety texture and rich fruit reminiscent of Chambertin itself. It is generally better than the lighter although wonderfully fragrant Chapelle-Chambertin and Gevrey’s largest Grand Cru, the pure and seductive (if variable) Charmes-Chambertin.
Gevrey also has some outstanding Premier Crus on the south-east-facing slopes above the town. Les Cazetiers and especially Clos St Jacques produce some exceptional wines. Indeed Armand Rousseau, who pioneered domaine bottling here in the 1930s and is still one of the region’s very best producers, often sells his Clos St Jacques for more than several of his Grand Crus.
Drinking dates for these wines vary, but Grand Crus are generally best from at least 10 to 25 years, Premier Crus from 8 to 20 years and village wines from 5 to 12 years.
Not as know as the most expensive producers, Harmand Geoffroy is a host when you visit his cellar. A product of ancient vines, this Gevrey-Chambertin has a brilliant, majestic nose which is hauntingly fine and expresses exceptional detail as well as great power. Magical little red fruits dance across the palate, but there’s no doubt that there is a granitic structure beneath the silky surface too.
It is hard to see how this wine could be any better than this !