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2017 vintage - The year started early, with a winter with several days of below-freezing temperatures at around -10°C / -15°C (°F) but that was generally dry and windy.

Gevrey was lucky to escape the frost forecasted for April. From this time we will remember the outstanding collective effort of wine workers who have fought two night in a row, setting fire to bales of straw to create a smoke cloud protecting the vines from getting sunburnt by the first sunrays of the day on very cold plants.

The vines flowered at the beginning of June in good conditions and very quickly. The half-bloom stage was reached on the 10th of June. It only took a few days to go from the first flowers to the first grapes.

The weather conditions in May and June were very auspicious, hot and dry, keeping at bay diseases such as downy or powdery mildew.

 

In June, the temperature remained above 35°C for several consecutive days a few times.

July and August weren’t as hot as normally, but relatively sunny with some stormy spells. Luckily, the village of Gevrey escaped heavy storms and rains. Only one hailstones storm hit the adjacent village of Brochon and some vines in Morey-Saint-Denis on the 10th of July.

In these conditions, the vines have produced beautiful grapes, and the weather was ideal for the fruits to ripen well and quickly.

Our vines, especially those which suffered frost in 2016, are set to provide a good harvest this year.

In this end of August, the vines are very healthy, and the fruits have thick skin. Some vines are presenting signs of drought and are losing their bottom leaves.

The long-awaited rain came at the end of August to plump up the grapes.

Our first maturity tests have shown a natural alcohol content of 12°, thick skins, a good acidity, beautiful colours, delicate tannins, and ripe pips.

We have decided to start harvesting on the 9th of September in good conditions.

We are hoping that this year at last, we will fill our vats with a harvest of very good quality.

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History

It’s often been said that the “ouverture de la symphonie” starts in Gevrey Chambertin.

As the famous local winemaker and founder of the “Ordre of the Knights of Tastevin” (Ordre des Chevaliers du Tastevin) at the Clos de Vougeot castle, Camille Rodier once said: “Gevrey Chambertin alone can make great Burgundy possible!”.

Gevrey Chambertin has a rare and unique “Terroir”, thanks to the “alluvial fan” that comes from a valley situated just behind (to the west) of Gevrey called “La Combe de Lavaux”. This glacier melted many millions of years ago and spread the rich top and sub-soil layers out through what is now the town to the plaines beyond. It is not surprising to find that 9 of the 33 Grand Crus come from this village including the famous Chambertin as well as 26 Premier Crus!

The town also boasts over 100 wine estates! The Tortochot is one of the more famous estates and has been in the Tortochot family for 4 generations. In the 19th century Paul Tortochot was a modest “vigneron” on the “Place des Marroniers”. His son Félix married Louise Liébaut from Morey Saint Denis, the neighbouring village. The Liebauts were well known in the village, to such an extent that they even have a varietal of Pinot Noir named after them! Gabriel, the son of Félix has run the 12 hectare estate for many years before moving aside to let his two daughters, Brigitte & Chantal, take over. In fact it’s Chantal that runs the estate’s day-to-day activities.

Chantal is a graduate of the business school in Dijon and spent 15 years working for an American petrol company in the finance department. Her father, Gabriel, urged her to train in an alternative sector of industry and to get valuable experience before eventually deciding to take over the family estate. This is a habit that Chantal has passed on to her two children who are both studying medecine – Chantal’s husband is himself a docteur.

After years of working in a stress-fuelled “american environment”, Chantal believed it was time to move back to the family wine estate. At 35, she passed two important exams at the Dijon wine university, before taking control of the estate.

Chantal is one of a growing breed of “viticulteurs” in Burgundy. Bi-lingual and with valuable experience on the international stage, passionate, intelligent and with the in-bred ADN of a Gevrey winemaker. She has made it her primary battle to convert the estate into an “organic” one and will receive the official certification starting from the 2013 vintage. When talking to Chantal you realize just how knowledgable and passionate she is about her vineyards, the terroir and nature itself. “It’s very important to respect nature and to respect the vines in particular…”. Chantal is also an active member of the association “Femmes et Vins de Bourgogne” (women and wine in Burgundy), which showcases influent women in the wine industry in Burgundy.

Chantal admits that the last 4 harvests have not been the easiest, especially due to the bad weather, but she remains optimistic for the future. “We are blessed with having some of the best terroir in Burgundy. When the hills first formed hundreds of millions of years ago, the tectonic plates were displaced in such a way as to produce a unique sub-soil made up of different types of limestone and a perfect mixture of clay & marne.”

When talking about her style of Pinot Noirs, Chantal explains: “Here we make a more traditional Gevrey Chambertin, with lots of fruit, strong tannins and good acidity. These are not really Pinots that can be drunk early…you have to be a little patient.”

 

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Vineyards

But there’s style in these wines. They have 4 village appellations of which one is from Morey Saint Denis. The Gevrey Chambertin “Les Corvées” is their experimental vineyard, where Chantal tries net cultivation technicals and non-chemical substances on her vines. She believes that the soil should be as natural as possible “We believe in making the natural ecosystem a priority”. Despite what some critics of organic wine say about the “fragile” health of the vines and the lack of quality in the wines, the Tortochot estate proves the contrary. The wines are both fruit-forward with strong but controlled tannins and the perfect touch of acidity, making even the younger wines full of balance.

The 1er Crus are fine examples of the terroir. The Lavaux Saint Jacques is a deep garnet colour with fine cherry and earthy aromas. The Champeaux is of a more fruity/floral style with notes of cherry and rose. This is a very elegant pinot with an impressively long finish. The Charmes has a spicy/fruity/smoky aromas with deep red fruit on the palate. The estate boasts four Grand Crus, three are in Gevrey – Charmes, Chambertin and probably the flagship GC, the excellent Mazis Chambertin with its rich fruit and licorice flavors, strong but elegant tannins and a great potential.  The estate also has a modest 7 rows of vines in the Clos de Vougeot GC vineyard producing dark berry aromas and underbrush nuances. Although a little on the tight side when young, this is a pinot to keep in your ellar for a few years. You won’t be dissappointed.

Altogether a charming and impressive estate with an equally charming and professional owner. This is what true Gevrey is all about!
 

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Winemaking

In 2003 we began - with the assistance of specialists from the Chambre d'Agriculture (a local agricultural body) - a review of how the vineyard was run, with the objective of making our production methods more environmentally-friendly. We decided to begin to move towards organic viticulture.

 

In our test vineyard, les Corvées, we decided that we would do our utmost to try to only use products that are chemical-free
We only use organic raw materials - copper salts, sulphates, and natural insecticides (made from plants). To protect vines from mildew and oidium (powdery mildew) we use sprays made from plant extracts and highly-diluted bouillie bordelaise (a copper sulphate pulp) as well as sulphur flowers in powder form.

 

Our aims are: to protect the natural ecosystem; to protect plant-life, animals and insects on the ground; to put more emphasis on the soil's lifespan; and to ensure the survival of local flora and fauna.
The alternatives to using chemical weedkiller are ploughing, weeding and letting natural grass growth occur.
The resulting soil will be both more natural and more representative the vineyard's unique local soil type. The vines' roots will be forced to go deeper into the soil to feed and will benefit from its higher content in mineral salts.
Only bio-dynamic (our energised) composted organic material will be added to the soil.

Finally in 2008, we decided to convert the whole of the vineyard (winegrowing) to organic agriculture.

 

Ageing in barrels allows for the constant exchange between the wine and the air thanks to the porous nature of the wood. This results in a slow oxidation which ages the wine, diminishes astringency and stabilizes the colour. Substances resulting from wood particles breaking down impart the wine with vanilla notes thereby enriching it.

 

Barrel ageing also encourages the development of sediment from the largest particles, ultimately facilitating racking. Malolactic fermentation takes place over the 15 to 18 month period of barrel ageing. The first racking takes place once malolactic fermentation is complete. This fermentation lowers the wine’s natural acidity and modifies the aromas. Since 1999, we no long fine or filter our wines. In order for this to be successful, the grapes must be perfectly ripe, free of rot and suspended pectin. Finally, the wines are bottled after 15-18 months of barrel ageing.

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