Domaine Marchand Freres Gevrey-Chambertin 'En Etelois' 2011
Butting up against Grand Cru Griottes-Chambertin, Charmes Chambertin and Chapelle-Chambertin, this Gevrey-Chambertin ‘village’ lieu-dit ‘Aux Etelois’ is justifiably famous and particularly prized here in the region. It’s what we call a ‘locals’ wine. The parcel is often bottled as a single-vineyard ‘village’ because of its intrinsic elegance. Domaine Maume (among others) also produces an excellent Etelois.
DOMAINE MARCHAND FRERES
The Domaine Marchand Freres has been in existence since 1813 through seven generations, and for most of that time it was based in Morey-St. Denis. In 1983, however, the domain bought a winemaker’s house in the very center of Gevrey-Chambertin, ostensibly for the beautiful working cellars underneath. But Gevrey gradually became the seat of the business, and today Denis Marchand lives in the beautifully restored house and receives guests in the cellars below.
The domain has small parcels in some very important vineyards in Chambolle-Musigny, Morey-Saint-Denis and Gevrey-Chambertin, including premier cru ‘Les Sentiers’ in Chambolle, ‘Le Clos des Ormes’ in Morey and ‘Les Combottes’ in Gevrey. They also have holdings in Grand Cru Clos de la Roche, Griottes-Chambertin and Charmes Chambertin. But production is tiny, 1000 cases here, a few hundred there, mere dozens in the Grands Crus. Marchand Freres is the quintessential Burgundy domain: small production, high quality.
2011 is notable not just because it was an early harvest, but because of its wacky weather. While the East Coast of the US was sweltering in 100°+ at the end of July, Burgundians were wearing sweaters wondering what the heck was happening. We'd just been through a couple of weeks of way-too- much rain and sub-70° temperatures that had followed three months of no rain and the sort of heat you would expect in August. It was an early spring jump-start for the vines, which flowered precociously. First calculations had the harvest beginning in the latter half of August. Bountiful fruit set beautifully, with just a touch of millerandage to give the grapes space to grow and keep the bunches well aerated. At that point, there was no risk of mildew, and treatments could be kept to a minimum. Aside from cursing the expected early harvest (meaning, no vacation this year), the growers were thrilled. But as the rain continued into August, followed by a worrying stormy period, suddenly everyone was looking at the sky. No one was worried...not yet. But we really needed some sun soon. The harvest projection got pushed into early September. But even early September is early. So a lot of intuition went into determining the date of the harvest: to wait or not to wait? This was the question that all of Burgundy was asking in the last weeks of August. The harvest was ultimately spread out across several weeks, with parcels harvested as they came to maturity. Sunshine and dry conditions in September rewarded those who were patient.
The whites have aromatic purity, with clear, frank aromas of citrus fruits and delicate floral notes. A good level of acidity makes the wines fresh and expressive. Good balance, pleasant roundness, and a notable expression of terroir. Maturity will bring complexity to these wines, but they are enjoyable young.
These are seductive wines with a intense color. There is a broad range of aromas: fresh red fruits with soft, spicy notes. Good balance with round supple tannins. The potential for laying down the wine will vary depending on the appellation and the producer. However, this is a very pleasant and charming vintage which will be enjoyable young.
COTE DE NUITS
The vineyards of Gevrey-Chambertin swirl around the mouth of the Combe de Lavaux, a cleft in the hillside that has been eroding limestone slurry into the plains around the village of Gevrey for a geological epoch. Few appellations in Burgundy break down so neatly into zones: north of the combe lie most of the premier cru vineyards. The 9 grand cru vineyards are on the other side of the combe to the south. There are some good premiers crus in this sector as well, but they tend to be on the edges of the grands crus. Logically then, there are several different zones of village wine production, some very interesting, some (especially to the east) not.
Produced in the communes of Gevrey-Chambertin and Brochon, the appellation Gevrey-Chambertin includes 26 premiers crus. The commune of Gevrey-Chambertin also produces 9 grands crus.
In youth Gevrey-Chambertin is usually a bright ruby color, turning more black cherry with age. Strawberry and cherry fruits, violet and rose floral notes are common in the early days. Maturity brings out liquorice, leather and fur and hints of that Pinot underbrush. Youthful firm structure gives way to velvety tannins and delicate texture. Gevrey is what great burgundy should be: powerful, rich, and meaty. They can often be when drunk young to appreciate the fruit, but really these are wines for aging, often for long periods.
The grands crus sit on the eddys of the combe , with thin soils on crinoidal limestone; while most of the premiers crus occupy the upper portion of the Côte at heights of between 280 and 380 meters on shallow red limestone soils. Below them are the village appellation vines on brown limey soils. There are also marls covered with screes and red silt that have washed down from above the combe. These stony mixtures can produce elegant wine while the clayey marls, which contain rich deposits of fossilized shell-fish, add body and firmness. Exposures vary from east to south-east.
Red wines only - Pinot Noir
Production surface area
1 hectare (ha) = 2.4 acres
409.65 ha (including 80.46 ha premier cru)
Massive yet velvety, the wines of Gevrey-Chambertin should show power and structure, and should age admirably. This is a wine for meat-eaters. As it evolves, its gamey notes becomes a match for game, feathered or furred. It also goes superbly with rib steak, lamb, and fibrous meats, that need marinating or braising. It goes well with all the Burgundian strong cow-milk cheeses, in particular Époisses and Ami du Chambertin, and of course with the creamy purity of a Cîteaux.
On the label, the appellations Gevrey-Chambertin and Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru may be followed by the name of the specific vineyard, known as a climat.
The following climats are classified as premier cru:
Clos des Varoilles
Clos du Chapitre
Combe au Moine
The following climats are village wines from a single vineyard, known as a lieu-dit:
Champerrier du Bas
Champerrier du Dessus
Combe de Lavaux
Combes du Bas
Combes du Dessus
Croix des Champs
Le Carré Rougeaud
Les Champs Perriers
Les Jeunes Rois
Meix des Ouches
Puits de la Baraque