Chambertin – Domaine Armand Rousseau
Chambertin gained a reputation from the patronage of Napoleon I, who is rumoured not to have drunk anything else and watered down his Chambertin with plenty of water. He favoured it at five to six years old and never drank more than half a bottle with a meal. When the ex-Emperor was exiled on St. Helena, he was forced to drink claret, since that was easier to ship to the isolated island.
The Rousseau Domaine was started at the beginning of the 20th century by Armand Rousseau who, at his majority, inherited several plots of vineyards in Gevrey Chambertin. The Domaine premises with the living house, the storing places, the cellars and the winery, are situated in the oldest part of the village, near the 13th century church.
From 1959, after Armand Rousseau's death, Charles Rousseau was at the head of a Domaine of 6 ha which he continued developing rapidly thanks to his great knowledge in oenology, and his experience, by acquiring new vineyards, especially in "Grands Crus" areas. He decided to turn principally towards export, and, after the USA where his father had already starting to sell his wines right after prohibition at the end of the 30's, he developed the exchanges first with Great-Britain, Germany, Switzerland, soon afterwards to all European countries, then to Canada, Australia, New-Zealand, Brazil, etc. and lastly Asia in the 1970’s.
His son Eric joined him at the beginning of the 1980's to take care more especially of the vineyards and the vinification. In 1993, Corinne, Charles's elder daughter, after many years of professional experience in export abroad and in France, came back to the Domaine and in her turn took in charge the commercial relationship with customers.
After a fresh autumn with abundant rain, the weather was rather mild during 2003-2004 winter with two colder periods, one at the end of December and the other at the end of January. February was more contrasted with a first decade very mild and a last rather cold. The cold continued at the beginning of March, but on 14th. March we could note the beginning of spring which was early this year with suddenly high temperatures, when then lowered rapidly until mid-April.
At that time, the development of the vines was rather moderate.
From mid-May, we had summer temperatures with a fast vegetation growing, close to 2000, 2001 and 'normal'. Then the nice weather continued with some light rain spells which favoured the development of the vines. The flowering started around 10th. June and the mid-flowering was noted on 15th. June, in the average of the past 10 years.
The oïdium pressure was particularly strong at the beginning of the vegetative cycle because of the alternating warm and humid periods which favoured its fast development, but the pressure was relatively well mastered, because watched closely and sprayings were effected as often as we judged it necessary.
The weather was rather fresh and changeable in July but this did not affect the vines too much. At that time, we could note a potential production above normal, therefore we decided to do green harvest until the end of July.
Then there were a few episodes of high temperatures with violent rain storms with an unstable weather and generally rather fresh for the season. A first hail storms reached a great part of the Grands Crus and Village vineyards during the first week of August.
This hail storms was followed by two others on 16th. And 23rd August, even more devastating, reaching again all the Grands Crus and also the Premiers Crus appellations.
Because of this unusual weather, the vegetative cycle has slowed downed considerably and the 'veraison' was not very advanced, even at the beginning of September.
Fortunately, the month of September was beautiful and very dry, and the high temperatures allowed us to pick the grapes in very good conditions.
We started the harvest on September 24th. and stopped on October 4th. practising a very intensive selection, to eliminate the numerous grapes which had been damaged by the hail, because it was imperative to throw away every berry in bad state.
The vinification took place fortunately in good conditions with good sugar and acidity levels.
From 2004, the cellar is not heated any more for malo-lactic fermentations which therefore started on their own in spring and finished in June. The first racking was made at the beginning of September and the bottling in April/May 2005.
In summary, the 2004 vintage is very fine, elegant, on the fruit, with tender tannins. It is a wine of average aging.