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Pavillon de Chavannes Cote de Brouilly Cuvee des Ambassades 2009

Gamay from Beaujolais, Burgundy, France
  • RP90
0% ABV
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Winemaker Notes

Highly scented and finely—fine is the adjective that comes to mind—concentrated wines. It helps too that winemaking here is traditional and simple, with little extraction in the modern sense (Pavillon's wine could well be labeled the antithesis of modern extracted power).

Critical Acclaim

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RP 90
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
The Chavannes 2009 Cote de Brouilly Cuvee des Ambassades (their prestige bottling, price notwithstanding) is complexly scented with red currant, kirsch, fresh blackberry, violet, and lavender. Firm and bright on the palate, it offers hints of crushed stone, salt, and beef juices, along with pungent herbs and tart berry skin, leading to a long, fascinating, if understated finish. Don't look for the sweet overt ripeness or exuberance more characteristic of the vintage here – and I wouldn’t doubt that the wine really is under 13% alcohol as its "12.5" inscription intimates – but follow this excellent value over the next 3-4 years and you will be richly rewarded by a versatile dinner companion.
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Pavillon de Chavannes

Pavillon de Chavannes

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Pavillon de Chavannes, Beaujolais, Burgundy, France
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On the flanks of an extinct volcano, the Mont Brouilly, first planted by the Romans, our vineyard is situated in an exceptionally beautiful landscape of growing vines which many observers from the French novelist Colette to Pierre Salinger have found hightly attractive. The summit of the volcano belonged to the estate and part was donated for the construction of the Chapel Lady of Brouilly in the celebration of the victory over vine mildew by the Beaujolais.

The Lafond family whose head was a peer of the French realm and the adminsitrator of the Bank of France sold Chavannes to Pierre Jambon Chanrion in 1861 and it is his grandchildren who still run the vineyard. The Jambon family has often distinguished itself in winemaking since that time, most notably in the improvements its members made the Gamay grape of Burgundy and their perfecting of the techiniques for supporting growing vines on steep slopes.

The vines grow on blue granite soil, well exposed to sunlight over an area of a little over 40 acres. The type of vine is naturally the clear juiced Burgundy or Gamay black grape. Harvesting is manual, all impurities being removed (soil, leaves, unripe grapes). The winemaking process is carefully managed, fermentation temprature being monitored and pressing progremmed. The wine is matured in oak casks.

Beaujolais

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The bucolic region often identified as the southern part of Burgundy, Beaujolais actually doesn’t have a whole lot in common with the rest of the region in terms of climate, soil types and grape varieties. Beaujolais achieves its own identity with variations on style of one grape, Gamay.

Gamay was actually grown throughout all of Burgundy until 1395 when the Duke of Burgundy banished it south, making room for Pinot noir to inhabit all of the “superior” hillsides of Burgundy proper. This was good news for Gamay as it produces a much better wine in the granitic soils of Beaujolais, compared with the limestone escarpments of the Côte d’Or.

Four styles of Beaujolais exist though most is sold under the basic Beaujolais appellation. The simplest, and one that has regrettably given the region a subpar reputation, is Beaujolais Nouveau. This is the wine that is made using carbonic maceration (a quick fermentation that results in sweet aromas) and is released on the third Thursday of November in the same year as harvest. It's meant to drink young and is flirty, fruity and fun. The rest of Beaujolais is where the serious wines are found. Beaujolais-Villages, which must come from the hilly northern part of the region, offer reasonable values with some gems among them. The superior section are the cru vineyards coming from ten distinct communes: St-Amour, Juliénas, Chénas, Moulin-à-Vent, Fleurie, Chiroubles, Morgon, Regnié, Brouilly, and Côte de Brouilly. Any cru Beajolais will have its commune name prominent on the label.

Delightfully playful yet at its best capable of impressive gravitas, Gamay is responsible for juicy, berry-flavored wines in Beaujolais and parts of the Loire Valley. It has received some criticism for its role in Beaujolais Nouveau, a young beverage more reminiscent of fruit punch than wine. But make no mistake—the Gamay grape is very capable of producing light yet serious wines, especially in the cru villages of Beaujolais. The variety is also widely planted in Savoie and Switzerland, and has recently found success on a small but growing scale in Oregon.

In the Glass

Gamay can be decidedly light and fruity with flavors cherry candy and cranberry. Made for Beaujolais Nouveau, with a quick fermentation process, the wines give fun and flirty aromas of banana or bubblegum. The Nouveau style is to drink early and not contemplate. More complex Gamays (Village or cru level) offer dark blackberry or ripe cherry flavors with enticing aromas of baking spice, violets and dark wet earth as well as aging potential.

Perfect Pairings

Gamay is delicious on its own, especially with a light chill. It is the quintessential picnic red and goes well with simple charcuterie, country pate, and terrines. Served at a cool temperature, it is an unexpected but outstanding partner for freshly shucked oysters. Gentle tannins and bright acidity make it a great option with Asian food, even dishes with a bit of a spicy kick. Gamay can also be a great pairing with poultry, especially duck or Thanksgiving turkey with cranberry sauce.

Sommelier Secret

Within Beaujolais, there are ten different crus, or highly ranked grape-growing communes. Each one has its own distinct personality—Fleurie is delicate and floral, Côte de Brouilly is concentrated and elegant, and Morgon is serious, structured, and age-worthy, capable of rivaling some red Burgundies.

CNC866916_2009 Item# 107654