14 Jun 2011

The wines of the Chevrot family in Burgundy

There are wines and people that mark you instantly. And there are others that grow upon you gradually, by their sincerity, their modesty, their constant attention to detail, and their consequent steady progression up the scale of what we call, for want of a better word, "quality". The wines of Domaine Chevrot, at the southern extremity of Burgundy's Côte d'Or, in one of the villages bearing the name of Maranges, are of the latter category for me.

Pablo (on the left) and Vincent Chevrot in front of some of their vines and, in the background, the slope of Maranges which forms the southern tip of the Côte de Beaune. You can see this hillside clearer in the picture below. The vineyards, like in all of Burgundy, are divided amongst many different producers, and the Chevrot family only own very small patches of the vines that blanket these gentle hills.

Pablo and Vincent have pursued their own way, improving and progressively refining their range of wines, following in the footsteps of their parents. They were not born with a golden spoon in their mouths. In other words, the domain is quite small and does not boast any prestigious appellations. The most expensive wine in their catalogue retails to consumers at around 25 euros per bottle, whereas the entry price is around 6 euros. Who said that all Burgundy was expensive?

Pablo in his cellar

The Chevrot vineyard is organically farmed, but there is nothing dogmatic about Pablo's approach to this or to winemaking. He is experimenting with adding very little sulphur to his wines but these are perfectly clean, with none of the fiendish attacks of brettanomyces (nasty animals that make some wines stink like a dirty barnyard) that sometimes plague certain wines from over-enthustic and under trained organic farmer-winemakers. In fact the Chevrot wines are a joy for the purity of their flavours. So which are the good ones?

Well I do not really like telling other people what they should like, but I give below a short list of my favourite wines from this tasting which only covered a small part (in fact the least expensive wines) of the total range of some 15 different wines (this is Burgundy folks, where even a small estate has a huge range on account of the division of land and the multiple appellations: too many in my opinion, but try selling that to the French!).

White wines
I consider 2008 to be a far better vintage than 2009 for white Burgundy.
Chevrot Hautes Côtes de Beaune 2008
This wine is finely perfumed, precisely fruity and quite deliciously, lightly balanced. It is a negociant wine (made from bought grapes).
Domaine Chevrot, Maranges 2008
Very delicious and friendly, with savoury fruit flavours and good length. This added length and intensity distinguishes it from the previous wine.
Red wines
For red wines, the 2009 vintage clearly has the edge on 2008, on account of the extra ripeness it shows.
Domaine Chevrot Hautes Côtes de Beaune 2009
Plenty of flavours here in a wine which has the roundness to make it pleasant drinking already. The fruit rests on a bed of firmness which will enable it to hold in there for several years.
Domaine Chevrot Maranges "sur le chêne" 2009
A wine from a single named plot which is not a premier cru. It has far more depth than the previous wine, with stiffer tannins that are wrapped with more intense fruit. Excellent length too. Fantastic value for a village Burgundy, as this retails for about 14 euros!

Pablo and his wife Kaori. They have named their Bourgogné rosé "Sakura", in honour of the Japanese oranamental cherry tree whose incredibly bright and brief flowering symbolises the fragile return of life in spring in that country which appreciates Burgundy more than most others.

If you want to help the Japanese Red Cross (and you should do) then the Burgundian producers have given masses of wine for a charity auction that is currently under way on the internet (until June 30th). Take a look and bid up as much as you can on this site :

Unfortunately they haven't thought to translate this excellent initiative into English.

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