Domaine Armand Rousseau Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru 2014
Charmes-Chambertin is the largest Grand Cru in Gevrey-Chambertin covering 72 acres spread across many growers. Domaine Armand Rousseau owns a total of 3.4 acres in a prime position on the hill, mid-slope with an east/southeast exposure.
Grapes are meticulously sorted as they arrive in the winery. Following a cool maceration lasting 5-7 days the must travels by gravity into barrel where it will stay for the entire vinification process lasting typically 18-24 months. Each Armand Rousseau wine is blended unfiltered.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Notes of dusty cherry, currant and leafy underbrush are the highlights of this tightly wound red, which is not giving much today, yet there is a center of sweet berry fruit. The fine aftertaste is fresh and resonant, with refined tannins. Best from 2022 through 2040.
Elegant and attractively perfumed aromas speak of red cherry, rose petal, spice and sandalwood nuances. The detailed and highly energetic medium-bodied flavors possess a sleek, even silky mouth feel before culminating in a lingering and ever-so-mildly austere finale. This well-balanced and understated effort is really quite lovely and should drink reasonably well after only 7 to 8 years of bottle age yet repay a dozen plus.
Tasted blind at the Burgfest 2014 tasting, the 2014 Charmes Chambertin Grand Cru has a slightly diffuse bouquet at the moment with redcurrant and raspberry fruit, quite effervescent and vigorous. Touch of brettanomyces? The palate is medium-bodied with supple tannin. There is just a touch of chewiness, although it is balanced and will soften with time. It closes in a little toward the pastille-like finish. When this was revealed as Armand Rousseau, I was as surprised as the other tasters in the room that were mostly nonplussed by this Charmes-Chambertin. I put a question mark next to my score, and hopefully another bottle will show as well as it did from barrel.
Each of the domaine’s prestigious holdings is in Gevrey Chambertin, with the exception of Grand Cru Clos de la Roche in Morey-St. Denis. The domaine controls a remarkable 8 hectares of Grand Crus, including 6.25 acres in Chambertin and 3.45 in Clos de Bèze. Rousseau owns 5.5 acres in the famed Premier Cru Clos St. Jacques, which accounts for 40% of the total acreage and 100% of the 2.5-acre monopole, Grand Cru Clos des Ruchottes.
In August 2012, following the purchase of Chateau de Gevrey-Chambertin’s vineyards by its new Chinese owner, Louis Ng Chi-sing, chief operating officer at SJM Holdings in Macau, its management was entrusted to Eric Rousseau of Domaine Rousseau. The five-acre property, which includes the Chateau, is comprised of small plots of the grand cru and premier cru ‘Chambertin’ vineyards, while the balance is Gevrey-Chambertin AOC.
Eric Rousseau is adamant that yields should be severely limited to promote faithful expression of the individual vineyard. The wines age in barrel for 18 months before bottling. Rousseau releases its wines exactly two years after the vintage.
This small village is home to the Grands Crus in the farthest northerly stretches of Côte de Nuits and is famous for some of the deepest and firmest Burgundian Pinot Noir.
Gevrey boasts nine Grands Crus, the best of which are arguably Le Chambertin and Chambertin-Clos de Bèze. As with all of the fragmented vineyards of Burgundy, it isn’t easy to differentiate between the two, which are situated adjacent with Clos de Bèze slightly further up the hill than Le Chambertin. Clos de Bèze has a shallower soil and if you’re really counting, may produce wines less intense but more likely to charm. Some compare Le Chambertin in both power and plentitude only to the prized Romanée-Conti Grand Cru farther south in Vosne-Romanée.
Two other Grands Crus vineyards, Mazis-Chambertin (also written Mazy-) and Latricières-Chambertin command almost as much regard as Le Chambertin and Chambertin-Clos de Bèze. The upper part of Mazy, called Les Mazis Haut is the best and Latricières-Chambertin offers an abundance of juicy fruit and a silky texture in the warmer vintages.
Other Grands Crus are Ruchottes-Chambertin, Charmes-Chambertin, Mazoyères-Chambertin, Griotte-Chambertin and Chapelle-Chambertin.
The most respected Pinot Noir wines from Gevrey-Chambertin are robust and powerful but at the same time, velvety and expressive: black fruit, black liquorice and chocolate come into play. After some time in the bottle, the wines are harmonious with bright and sometimes candied fruit, and aromas of musk, truffle and forest floor. These have staying power.
Thin-skinned, finicky and temperamental, Pinot Noir is also one of the most rewarding grapes to grow and remains a labor of love for some of the greatest vignerons in Burgundy. Fairly adaptable but highly reflective of the environment in which it is grown, Pinot Noir prefers a cool climate and requires low yields to achieve high quality. Outside of France, outstanding examples come from in Oregon, California and throughout specific locations in wine-producing world. Somm Secret—André Tchelistcheff, California’s most influential post-Prohibition winemaker decidedly stayed away from the grape, claiming “God made Cabernet. The Devil made Pinot Noir.”