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The monks of the Abbey of Bèze owned the Clos de Bèze in Gevrey-Chambertin, given to them in 630 by Amalgaire, Duke of Basse Bourgogne. They cleared the land and planted of the vines in what later became the "Clos de Bèze", a true Clos surrounded by walls.
The fruit comes from the Petit Clos de Bèze as well as from the Clos de Bèze, most of whiwh is located on the upper level of the appellation.
The soil is composed of scree particularly rich in limestone. The plot is located mid-slope on limestones from lower Bajocien and Maris Bajociennes. At the top of the slope, the vines grow from the loamy limestone of Bathonien. Gravel is uneven and the soil is less rich in phosphorous acid at the summit than at the base of the slope. The Clos de Bèze is often described as being the feminine alter ego of Chambertin. It has the elegance and the finesse of Gevrey-Chambertin.
It is a complex and tannic wine, deep in colour and long in the mouth. The aromatic palette is very rich and delicate with a strong presence of red fruits and oriental spices..It is older than Chambertin, but both are of great renown. It has more of a touch of subtlety, more elegant minerality than the Chambertin which is fuller and more powerful.
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 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.
Production area: 8 ha
Grape varieties: 100% Pinot Noir
Average vineyard age: 40-45 years
Harvest method: hand picked, sorting in the vineyards
Winemaking: in open stainless steel vats, with 75% partial destemming, a 14-15 days fermentation and strict control of temperatures with a maximum of 30-31°C. No yeast is added. "Remontage" - pumping over - and "pigeage" - pressing down - are done on a regular basis. Malolactic fermentation, which follows alcoholic fermentation, is performed in oak barrels in the cellar.
Ageing: in 100 % new oak barrels. Aging lasts 20 to 22 months in very cold and naturally humid cellars.