Frederic Esmonin Ruchottes-Chambertin Grand Cru (3 Liter) 2016
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Sylvie Esmonin omitted to show me this wine when I visited her in Burgundy, so I was delighted to catch up with it in London. Ruchottes, along with Latricières, is always one the freshest and most vibrant of the Gevrey Grands Crus, and that’s the case here, with black cherry and damson fruit underpinned by acidity. The grip on the finish adds a more serious note. 2026-36.
Domaine Frédéric Esmonin, from Burgundy's Gevrey-Chambertain appellation, is a true family collaboration that consists of Frederic, his father, André, and his mother, Michele. They have been farming their 10-acres of family vineyards for generations and selling their fruit to the likes of Drouhin, Jadot, and Leroy. In 1988 they began to commercialize their own labels today they are producing consistently high-quality, beautiful wines that represent a great value considering their pedigree.
Access to some of the best vineyard plots in the region is Esmonin’s greatest fortunes. Today they have Grand Cru parcels and Premier Cru parcel in some of the regions top vineyard sites. And since the best Burgundy wines start with the best grapes, Esmonin uses their decades of farming experience to optimize these plots. But farming is only part of what they do well. Esmonin also employs winemaking techniques that are gentle to the grapes and produce the finest possible quality level. Using a new bladder-press, Esmonin has excellent control over the amount of pressure exerted on the grapes, which are picked only when they have reached ideal ripeness. After a short cold maceration gives the wines an extra dimension of fruit, they are aged in carefully selected French oak barrels of Allier and Nevers forest wood made by Radoux and Berthomieu, two of the very best coopers. Wines are aged in barrels of varying age and toast and then blended in order to achieve optimum balance and complexity. The Domaine ages its wines in wooden casks for between 14 to 17 months. Typically, the grand cru and Lavaut Saint-Jacques Premier Cru wines see 80 percent new oak, whereas the village-level wines are aged in 20 percent new oak.
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.”