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98 points Allen Meadows - Burghound
This is also ultra-pure and densely fruited with notes of anise, mint, wet stone and a sauvage hint that introduces intensely earthy and mineral-driven big-bodied flavors that are rich, powerful, serious and densely concentrated, all wrapped in a silky, palate staining, explosive and colossally persistent finish. This is actually relatively expressive and approachable for a young Cham yet the balance and harmony is present for this to age for decades. A brilliant effort and one of the best vintages ever for this justifiably revered wine. (AM)
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.
Domaine Armand Rousseau is the largest landowner of the Chambertin vineyard with a total of 5.3 acres. The 32 acres of Chambertin Grand Cru represent some of the finest and most storied Pinot Noir acreage on the planet and with all producers included typically produces less than 60,000 bottles. Chambertin is the beating heart of the red Grand Crus of the Côte d’Or sitting high on the hillside and bordered by Latricières-Chambertin to the south and Clos-de-Bèze to the north.
Vinification: Grapes are meticulously sorted as they arrive in the winery. Following a cool maceration the must travels by gravity into barrel where it will stay for the entire vinification process lasting typically 18-24 months. Each Armand Rousseau wine is blended unfiltered.
Burgundy writer Clive Coates refers to this Grand Cru as perhaps the finest red wine in the world. Always a tour de force, this wine has uncanny balance. It is very structured, dense, and powerful, it has firm, ripe tannins, yet it is not heavy. It has uncommonly long length on the palate.
The climatic specificity of 2009 was illustrated by a generous sunshine and a few rainstorms. In addition, two episodes of hail (April and may) hit the major part of the Clos de la Roche as well as the Mazoyères-Chambertin (assembled and vinified with the Charmes Chambertin). The mini and maxi temperatures were almost always above normal ever since the beginning of April until the end of August.
The vine starts its development towards the end of March. The weather conditions at the beginning of April favour the growing and the different stages develop rapidly. The opening of the buds is early, and, at the end of April, the average stage is of 4/5 leaves. After a decrease in activity at the beginning of May due to lower temperatures, the return of sunshine allows a rapid evolution of the vegetation. The flowering is effective during the last week of May. Then, the vine continues its development between sun and rain and, at the end of June, the stage of the closure of the grape is reached. The veraison is takes place between August 15th. and 20th. according to the exposure of the plots.
Despite a combination of rain and high temperatures which could have brought mildew and oidium contaminations, the vines have been spared and, at the eve of grape-picking, the sanitary state is exceptional.
Harvest started on 7th. September with excellent climatic conditions. Grapes were very healthy, not much sorting was necessary except on plots which were submitted to hail in spring. Moreover, the beautiful climatic conditions from the end of august until the start of picking - except a short storm episode mid-august - favoured the maturity of the berries.
This year, Domaine Armand Rousseau innovated in keeping 20% of full grapes – except for Clos de la Roche – to pursue its perpetual research for optimal quality. Therefore, the small berries full of sun could liberate the sugar they contained progressively, and in this way, allowed the wine to increase its natural richness while keeping very good acidities.
Malolactic fermentations started at the end of November and developed rapidly. In fact, all cuvées but one had finished in January.
All these elements announce a vintage quite exceptional in quality together with good quantity.