2008 Chambertin Clos de Beze Armand Rousseau

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Average critic rating : 92.25 points



This is every bit as elegant as the Clos St. Jacques but even deeper and broader with incredibly complex and refined red berry fruit, plum and violet aromas that are relatively cool and are in keeping with the balanced, refined and mouth coating flavors that possess superb depth and excellent finishing intensity. There is a touch of acidity that pokes through on the finish but the underlying material here appears to be so strong that I am reasonably confident that this will harmonize before it's bottled. Allen Meadows, Burghound Jan30,2010



Scented with ripe fresh cherry and red raspberry, accompanied by wild fennel, Rousseau’s 2008 Chambertin Clos de Beze conveys a flatteringly silken and richly-fruited palate presence, though hints of resin, vanilla, and caramel from its new wood are a bit awkwardly detached at present, a condition that might even knit itself short-term. While the richest Rousseau 2008, and undeniably persistent, this doesn’t reveal for now the floral or animal intrigue or the overall elegance that can render this appellation magic at this address. Expect at least 12-15 years of interest, though, and plan on revisiting this in a half dozen, if not within the next year. Eric Rousseau did not begin harvesting until September 28, but was finished already on October 4, with – as usual – the entire burden of selection placed on his pickers. The resultant wines prove that, as he puts it “they know what they’re doing” and sorting tables are unnecessary. Grapes came in between around 12% and 13.2%, were virtually all destemmed, and were only lightly chaptalized. Levels of malic acid were however higher even than in 2004, reports Rousseau, who compares the fruit with that of 1996, but does not finger the wines as strong candidates for long-term aging (“long term” – bear in mind – meaning upwards of 20 years in the context of a Rousseau track-record). When I tasted his 2008s in late February, Rousseau was planning to bottle them in March or April, a bit earlier than usual, although several struck me as relatively unformed. But then, his malos had finished by July – not late in terms of the vintage. (Unfortunately, I had only one chance to taste Rousseau 2007s: fleetingly, selectively, at a stage too early to merit reporting on in detail, although the trend was promising and Rousseau is keen on the results.) David Schildknecht, Wine Advocate # 189

Armand Rousseau: The Importance

Critics unilaterally acknowledge that some of the most definitive terroir expressions of Pinot Noir in Burgundy are produced at Domaine Armand Rousseau's winery.


This much is sure: The best among six grands crus and three premier crus chez Rousseau (meaning above all their Chambertin, Chambertin Clos de Beze, Gevrey—Chambertin Clos St. Jacques, Ruchottes-Chambertin, and Clos de la Roche) are icons of Burgundy terroir,” writes Robert Parker, while Clive Coates MW refers to Rousseau as: “one of the small number of Burgundy estates to which I would unhesitatingly award three stars.”


It is the most renowned estate in Gevrey-Chambertin and for Antonio Galloni: “The Rousseau wines are distinguished by their extraordinary transparency to site and overall finesse, making this cellar a must-stop for Burgundy fans who want to understand the essence of Gevrey’s most important vineyards.”

Armand Rousseau: The Insight

Domaine Armand Rousseau’s reputation is inextricably intertwined with the prestige of Chambertin, where Rousseau owns more vines than any other grower. This is the most culturally emblematic red Burgundy vineyard, with one of the most distinctive and easily recognisable characters in every vintage. Noted as the only wine Napoleon ever drank in his time as Emperor, to overstate the sheer cultural significance of Chambertin would be impossible. For Clive Coates, “as far as Chambertin and Chambertin Clos de Beze are concerned, you could even argue that there is Rousseau, and there are the rest. There are few finer domaines in the Cote d’Or than that of Armand Rousseau.”


With holdings throughout Gevrey, the domaine benefits from many other prestigious red Burgundy terroirs, such as the monopole of Clos des Ruchottes, which within the domaine has been treated as a flagship wine, producing excellent quality across vintages.  With 2.5ha of forty-year-old vines, Armand Rousseau owns more here than anyone else. The size of their holdings, combined with the domaine’s experience with the vineyard, which spans three generations back to 1921, goes some way towards explaining the wine’s critical acclaim and undisputed celebrity. To quote Robert Parker: “the three grands crus nearest the village of Gevrey – Ruchottes-Chambertin, Mazy-Chambertin (known by other growers as Mazis-Chambertin) and Clos de Beze – are uniformly superbly situated. First among equals is Clos de Beze, as demonstrated by the fact that wine grown here can be labelled simply Chambertin, but the converse is not permitted. Alluring scents of rose petal and liquorice over a base of deep black cherry are typical manifestations of these great sites."


Rousseau’s Premier Cru Gevrey-Chambertin Clos St. Jacques vies with the Grand Cru Chambertin wines as the crown jewel in the vineyard collection. Though it is now ranked a Premier Cru, Jules Lavalle ranks this exclusive clos in Gevrey Chambertin as “Premiere Cuvée” in his 1855 classification of the vineyards of Burgundy, as does Camille Rodier in the subsequent classification of 1920, while modern commentators such as Clive Coates commend Clos Saint-Jacques as “the equal of a Grand Cru” both in price and quality. Rousseau is the largest holder in this important Premier Cru and that the Clos St Jacques is so often put forward as a candidate for promotion to Grand Cru status is largely down to the quality of the Rousseau bottling.


For the most part, demand for these wines is so strong that they are invariably allocated as opposed to being actively sold. Prices have risen steadily over the past decade, and there is no real reason to suggest that they will stop: the combination of rarity and outstanding quality is not without effect.

Armand Rousseau: The Background

Armand Rousseau assembled a remarkable collection of vineyards in the first quarter of the last century and was a pioneer in estate-bottling. Eric Rousseau took over after the death of his father Charles in May 2016, representing the third generation at the Domaine.  For many wine lovers Charles was a point of reference, having been the face of the Domaine since 1959. However, not much is set to change from a winemaking standpoint under the young Eric, though Clive Coates speculates that bottling dates may be moved forward by a few months compared to the past.


Practices have hardly changed in three generations, with triage exclusively in the vineyards (not the press house); the inclusion of whole clusters and stems; precocious malolactic fermentation; a reliance on older barrels; and an eventual light plaque filtration – this is red Burgundy as it should be.

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