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.
The 2010 vintage began the 19th and 20th of the previous December, when the temperatures during the night dropped to -20C°, killing a number of vines in the most fragile parcels.
The vintage was also marked by heavy rains. Except for a pause between June 21 and July 11, the summer months were regularly interrupted by storms.
As a result the vines’ growth, which had started very late, moved along incrementally. Starting quickly with higher-than-normal temperatures in late April, then halted by a cold early May, growth was regularly disturbed up until flowering, causing coulure and millerandage, insurance for high-quality grapes.
Mildew appeared at the end of June and though it progressed throughout the summer, it did not affect the fruit and very little vegetation. The situation was roughly identical for oidium, which developed only slowly in May and it was not until June 21 that the effect was noticeable. Nonetheless, thanks to careful treatment, in the end the result was completely satisfactory.
Harvest began September 22 under sunny skies and sorting was very heavy. More rain on the 24 forced us to interrupt picking, followed by a return to clear weather, though with cooler temperatures.
This was a classic vintage for the Domaine, and for Burgundy, marked by small, healthy bunches. While the yields after sorting were quite low, the fruit quality, acidities and ripeness were very much in synch.
Depending on the wines, the macerations and fermentations lasted 15-18 days, and were barrelled by gravity after being pressed and clarified. Though malo-lactic fermentations progressed slowly, when they were finished and the wines had been racked, the level of quality was clear. There is great purity of fruit, with plenty of freshness and finesse and though the tannins are very fine, the wines are still well-structured.
The yields, between 30 and 35 percent lower than 2009 are the only black spots on an otherwise classic vintage, very Pinot Noir, giving pleasure in the short-term but with great potential for aging. In short, a winemaker’s vintage that will excite those that love fine wines.