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96-98 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
The 2014 Chambertin Grand Cru has such a vivacious bouquet, as intense and generous as the Clos de Beze with waves of pure red berries mixed with granite and limestone scents. There is just something aristocratic about this Chambertin. The palate is medium-bodied with fine, filigree tannin. There is a sense of focus and tension here, but so natural and elegant you don't know what to do with yourself. Then that mineral seam comes through on the long aftertaste. Predictably brilliant. I apologize for being so boring, but yes, this is the kind of wine that prompted God to invent the fermentation. (NM) (12/2015)
97 points Allen Meadows - Burghound
There is enough wood to notice framing the exuberantly spicy red and dark currant aromas that display an abundance of sauvage and earth nuances. The cool and pure medium weight plus flavors are remarkably refined for a young Chambertin yet there is clearly plenty of power lurking beneath the refined veneer. This is a big but not massive vintage for the Rousseau Cham and I like the sense of proportion and particularly so on the harmonious, superbly long and seamlessly well-balanced finale. As is the case with the 2015 vintage, it's going to be very interesting to see which of these two is the better wine in 15 to 20 years. (1/2017)
97 points Decanter
Beautifully lifted black fruit, sweet spice, a velvet texture and savoury finish. Ample with great power yet so refined. Rousseau makes wines of incredible intensity, and this wine illustrates that better than any other in Gevrey-Chambertin. (6/2016)
96 points Vinous
Bright, dark red Distinctly cooler on the nose than the Clos de Bèze, displaying classic Chambertin scents of black cherry, dried flowers, earth, game and crushed rock A youthfully reserved wine with great refinement of texture and inner-mouth perfume to its flavors of raspberry, spices and minerals complicated by wild hints of leather and game A seamless Chambertin of great nobility but the Clos de Bèze is more impressive today Finishes with outstanding rising length and grip, the firm tannins in perfect balance with the wine's mid-palate material Will this surpass the Clos de Bèze in the long run? I hope I'm around to find out. 96+ points. (ST) (3/2017)
100% new oak. Very majestic and autumnal on the nose. Very concentrated and all in the future. Not weak at all with much more obvious ripe fruit in the middle than Clos de Beze. Dense and very dry and savoury but the fruit more than stands up to the new oak. Magnificent. Vibrato. 18.5+/20 points (JR) (11/2015)
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.
We are looking at a good vintage. Autumn and winter were humid and very mild which allowed the Spring growth to start very early in the vines.The first signs of the vines coming to life are at the beginning of March with the buds starting to develop before the 15th. At this stage 2014 is one of the earliest years along with 2011 and 2012.
Despite the dry weather since early March, from mid April the bud development is very active.
In May the effects of the dry conditions start to make themselves felt in certain parcels of vines with the vegetation getting blocked. However with the rise in temperatures from the end of May to early June the vines find their rhythm and the flowering starts. Before the end of June the flowering is finished in the Côte de Nuits. The weather is wonderful and everything one could hope for, this accelerates the development of the grapes and the bunches are formed.August is wet and grey and the grapes finally turn colour towards the last ten days. Early September sees a return of the anticyclone and the weather is favourable for the grapes to have a good maturation period.
The harvest at the Domaine starts on the 12th September in perfect weather conditions and all the picking is done in 8 days. The temperatures hover around 27 degrees and everyone is still in shorts ! Extra vigilance and care is taken when picking and selecting the grapes so as not to allow any ‘acidic rot’ into the cellar.
And now the process of producing this precious nectar, the 2014 vintage, starts.
The 2014 vintage in Burgundy was a very complicated one, although less so than those in 2013, 2012 and 2011, which featured dramatic crop shortages due to shatter, bad fruit sets and hailstorms.
In 2014, there were two problems which resulted in crop loss: hail in the Côte de Beaune, especially inMeursault; and poor flowering in some of the hillside vineyards of Puligny and Meursault.
The winter temperatures were above average with only 4 days the entire winter below freezing. Rain amounts during the winter months were way above normal in January and February but below average for March and April. Temperatures in March and April were above normal but not extreme. May was slightly below normal both in temperature and rainfall.
June was also dry with below average rainfall (.2 inches of rain fell on the 4th, and .67 incheson the 12th), so flowering was much more uniform than in past years. There was no crop loss or rot. Flowering began in early June. By June 6th, flowering was 50% completed and almost entirely overby the 13th. June 6th until the 21st was the warmest stretch of the summer, with temperatures above86 degrees from the 7th to the 13th. On June 28th, the communes of Meursault, Pommard, Volnay and Savigny were hit twice by a devastating hail storm. These same communes had also suffered hail damagein the 3 preceding years.
July and August were unseasonably cool months. There was 65% more rain than the average.There were only 2 days in July with temps above 86o, the highest temps for the remainder of the summer and fall. From August 11th to September, temperatures never rose above 78 and mostly stayed around 72 for the high. It rained quite often in early August. There were no downpours, but it was always grey and damp. Because of the cool weather, the acids were maintained and since it was not too wet, there were few problems with mildew and odium as there had been in 2013.
September was quite dry. A small amount of rain fell on the 9th, 1.02 inches of rain on the 18th,and finally .39 inches on the 19th. Some growers started harvesting around the 11th of September andhad to hurry to get the grapes in before the rain on the 18th.
The 2014 vintage has similar acid levels to the 2013s, which were high. Because the acids in the2014s were 50% malic and 50% tartaric, the resulting wines are richer and more concentrated than the2013s. Natural alcohols were about a half a percent higher than the 2013s. Because of the high levels of tartaric and the less ripe grapes in 2013, it is a vintage of soil expression with lots of precision. 2014
is more of an expression of grapes with lots of juicy, concentrated acidity, refreshing with great bodyand balance. I really enjoyed tasting the wines. The malos had finished because the winter was so warm,therefore the wines were quite easy to taste and advanced, totally the opposite of 2013. The quality was much more heterogeneous than 2013, and quality should be quite high across the board.
It disturbs me that some growers are so concerned with premature oxidation that they will harvest slightly underripe grapes in order to keep the acids, and will add a lot of sulphur. Because the wine lacks alcohol, they will compensate by adding sugar, stirring the lees and using new oak. This is ridiculous – you cannot make wine because you’re concerned about those who want hold the wine for 10 years, and leave consumers who want to drink wines young with acidic, mineral, sour wine. I hope this is only a phase.
I would like to put 2014 in perspective in relation to the previous vintages:
2013 – Mineral, citric-lemon acids with salt and earth and lots of stony terroir.
2012 – More a vintage style with concentration because of the low yields. Good acids but not at all racy. 2011 – A year of the fruit, somewhat like 2014, but without the density. With texture, but not tremendous length on the palate.
2010 – A great year with perfect balance.
2009 – The last year of the sun, with high alcohol and very ripe wines with high pH and low acidity.
What’s lovely about the 2014s is that, along with its lush fruit, there are racy acids and the expression of terroir, too. It’s rare to get such high levels of acidity with so much concentration, and it’snot because of the crop size, but more a reflection of the sunlight hours, which were high without theheat. This allowed the grapes to ripen, and the cool days and nights in August kept the high acids. The fact that there was a lot of wind in September, combined with sunny days and very little rain, made for a perfect harvest window. Even those growers who waited out the few rainstorms in and around the 18thof September were able to let the vineyards dry out and finish their harvest. I am also excited that 2014should be seen as a vintage that is consumer friendly, with its up front fruit and concentration, and also one for purists where the vineyards’ intrinsic character is present, too. It is commercial, yet profound.
I wanted to briefly talk about pricing for 2014s. Given the tiny crops for white Burgundies in2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013, you might expect some big price increases. However, the growers have beenreasonable with 2014s, mostly keeping pricing the same, with the maximum increase being 10% at one domaine and 0-5% from all my other growers.
By Clive Coates MW