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Average critic rating : 91.0 points
The 2013 Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Lavaux St Jacques, which comes from two parcels since last year (one from the Château de Gevrey), has a light but pure nose: raspberry preserve and fresh strawberry. The palate is well balanced with sappy, red berry fruit, gentle grip with appreciable density on the finish. This bodes well for the future and may equal the Clos Saint Jacques.||There he is again. As I fumbled trying to open the wrought iron gate chez Rousseau, the legend that is Charles Rousseau, innings of 91 not out, exited the small cabin where he spends his day in quiet repose to help me inside. Sure, he looks a little gaunt, his gait slower and fragile, the caducity of life evident to see and yet remains the history of Burgundy made flesh, blood and charisma. Winemaker Frédéric Robert was on hand as usual to guide me through the barrels, always one of the most candid vignerons in Burgundy. Before embarking upon the tasting he mentioned that the fate of the village cru vines from Château de Gevrey has not been decided, choosing to wait until quality reaches a level where it will merit joining their portfolio (no pressure for the vines there then.) However, one parcel owned by the economically-titled ‘Ng’ family has now augmented their plot of Lavaux Saint Jacques. Like many winemakers, Frédéric was somewhat surprised and relieved to find how well their 2013s had turned out, although he cautioned that the barrels can change from day to day (and with this in mind I often tasted from two or three to aim for a representative sample blend.) Here they commenced the harvest on October 1 - as is customary a little earlier than other growers, some of whom unsheathed their secateurs around four days later. But he told me that the fruit seemed to have reached its full ripeness level and with the impending gloomy forecast felt there was little point in waiting. And like others, he found the malolactic fermentation stubbornly slow, though most had finished by the end of May. ||Unsurprisingly, this was an impressive lineup from Rousseau. As always, it is not a case of every single cru demanding superlatives: some are more successful than others. That's the way the cookie crumbles in a difficult vintage. Terroir's guiding hand plays its role. While both the Chambertin and the Clos-de-Bèze were knockout wines for the vintage, my preference just toward the latter, it was actually the Mazis-Chambertin that really surpassed my expectations in this growing season, just like it had done a couple of hours earlier at Dugat-Py. Indeed, I often find Mazis-Chambertin copes better than say, Latricières or Chapelle-Chambertin in seasons such as 2013: there is a robustness within its DNA, a sense of fortitude and stoicism, a vineyard that prevails come what may. It comes highly recommended. Both the Charmes-Chambertin and Clos de la Roche 2013s possess great potential, though some of the premier crus and village cru appear a little skinnier than I expected and will probably merit more short to midterm aging.| eRobertParker.com.December, 2014
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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