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Domaine Armand Rousseau Clos de la Roche Grand Cru 2011
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
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 Château 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 Château, 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.
The origin of perhaps the world’s very finest Pinot noir, Côte de Nuits is the northern half of the Côte d'Or and includes the famous wine villages of Gevrey-Chambertin, Morey-St-Denis, Chambolle-Musigny, Vougeot, Vosne-Romanée, Flagey-Echezeaux and Nuits-St-Georges.
Fine whites from Chardonnay are certainly found in the Côte de Nuits, but with much less frequency than top-performing reds made of Pinot noir. The little village of Nuits-St-Georges in its southern end gave the region its name: Côte de Nuits. The city of Dijon marks its northern border.
One of the most finicky yet rewarding grapes to grow, Pinot Noir is a labor of love for many. However, the greatest red wines of Burgundy prove that it is unquestionably worth the effort. In fact, it is the only red variety permitted in Burgundy. Highly reflective of its terroir, Pinot Noir prefers calcareous soils and a cool climate, requires low yields to achieve high quality and demands a lot of attention in the vineyard and winery. It retains even more glory as an important component of Champagne as well as on its own in France’s Loire Valley and Alsace regions. This sensational grape enjoys immense international success, most notably growing in Oregon, California and New Zealand with smaller amounts in Chile, Germany (as Spätburgunder) and Italy (as Pinot Nero).
In the Glass
Pinot Noir is all about red fruit—strawberry, raspberry and cherry with some heftier styles delving into the red or purple plum and in the other direction, red or orange citrus. It is relatively pale in color with soft tannins and a lively acidity. With age (of which the best examples can handle an astounding amount) it can develop hauntingly alluring characteristics of fresh earth, savory spice, dried fruit and truffles.
Pinot’s healthy acidity cuts through the oiliness of pink-fleshed fish like salmon and tuna but its mild mannered tannins give it enough structure to pair with all sorts of poultry: chicken, quail and especially duck. As the namesake wine of Boeuf Bourguignon, Pinot noir has proven it isn’t afraid of beef. California examples work splendidly well with barbecue and Pinot Noir is also vegetarian-friendly—most notably with any dish that features mushrooms.
For administrative purposes, the region of Beaujolais is often included in Burgundy. But it is extremely different in terms of topography, soil and climate, and the important red grape here is ultimately Gamay. Truth be told, there is a tiny amount of Gamay sprinkled around the outlying parts of Burgundy (mainly in Maconnais) but it isn’t allowed with any great significance and certainly not in any Villages or Cru level wines.