Discover Burgundy. 2000 years of viticulture in Gevrey-Chambertin

Gevrey-Chambertin is one of the oldest winegrowing sites in Burgundy. Or, maybe, the oldest, as the presence of a Gallo-Roman vineyard dated back to 1st century was confirmed in Gevrey-Chambertin. So what do you do when a site has been developing viticulture for over 2000 years? You find new blood! And I found a winery that started selling wine under their own label just 5 vintages ago. So let's traditionally talk about some history and geography of the appellation and then switch to Domaine Trapet-Rochelandet.

Gevrey-Chambertin wine tour and visit to Domaine Tropet Rochelandet Pinot Noir vineyards
Entering the village of Gevrey-Chambertin

Gevrey-Chambertin - History of the appellation

Burgundian Law granted ownership of land to anyone who planted vines on uncultivated land.

Until the 6th century vineyards were planted on the plains at the Gallo-Roman villas. After the 6th century the 'migration' of vineyards started as Burgundian Law granted ownership of land to anyone who planted vines on uncultivated land. This is the reason of abundance of Clos* in Gevrey-Chambertin - people wanted to show ownership or protect their vines from animals. Other than that, monks were always surrounding their vineyards with walls, and you know well that they were the most important drivers of the viticulture in Burgundy.

Domaine Jacques Prieur vineyard in Gevrey-Chambertin Cote de Nuits in Burgundy
this is a Clos, even though just a part of the stone wall remained

*Clos - vineyard surrounded by stone walls

Gevrey or Chambertin? Or Gevrey-Chambertin?

Village of Gevrey-Chambertin and the Route des Grands Crus during a wine study trip to Burgundy
in the village of Gevrey-Chambertin - all the routes lead to ... Route des Grands Crus ;)

An important trend was set in 1847 in Burgundy. King Louis Philippe I allowed to rename the village of Gevrey to Gevrey-Chambertin.

Reason behind - prestige, as they already knew how valuable the wines that come from Chambertin climat were. Chambolle-Musigny, Vosne-Romanée and Morey-Saint-Denis followed the example shortly.

it was proved that terroir-based viticulture exists here for the last 2000 years

2000 Years of Terroir Awareness

Was it a god's blessing or something in the air, we don't know. But the fact of terroir-based viticulture is proven to exist here for the last 2000 years. So since the very beginning of grapevine cultivation in Burgundy. People always aimed to link the origin of their wine to a specific geographical area, each wine was presented according to its' origin. This way more than 1000 climats* were born in Burgundy.

Mazis-Chambertin Grand Cru vineyard a climat of Gevrey-Chambertin village
here the climat is Mazis-Chambertin

*Climat - in Burgundy, climat is a specific winegrowing site with its´own microclimate, geological characteristics, living organisms. Climats were marked out during centuries and kept their historical names, each produces wine of a distinct character. While it might seem a term very similar to terroir, terroir is a broader concept. Climat as a term is usually kept for Premier and Grand Cru sites, while terroir can be related to any vineyard in Village or Regional appellation.

Types of Soil in Gevrey-Chambertin

Imagine a mille-feuille - this is exactly how soil looks within the best climats of Burgundy, and, especially, in Côte de Nuits. We can distinguish three very different terroirs in Gevrey-Chambertin:

Gevrey-Chambertin winery visit and wine study trip to Burgundy
post Ice-Age soils in Gevrey-Chambertin
  • The first zone is right under the Combe Lavaux Natural Reserve. The soil here is very shallow from 30 m (at the top) to 60 m (at the bottom). It contains marl and limestone from mid Jurassic period.

  • The most 'crowded' zone is where 50% of the vineyards are located. Soils are 20 000 years old, formed after the last Ice Age. It's a light and well-drained soil, rich in Alluvial clay and pebble, as it was deposited by rivers and streams.

  • And the third zone is where the majority of Grand Crus are found - from the edge of the Combe Lavaux to the border with Morey-Saint-Denis. Lots of limestone, marl, clayey limestone subsoil, covered by shallow soil rich in limestone.

As you can see, even this very generic overview brings light to endless combination of micro-climates, soils, exposure, altitude... Gevrey-Chambertin is one of the largest appellations in Côte d'Or (over 500 ha), it's all planted with one variety - Pinot Noir, but the expressions of terroir and diversity of wines are endless. But you've got to start discovering them somewhere :)

So I headed to a very young winery in Gevrey-Chambertin with a solid decision to be nature-friendly - they already have the HVE certification ("High environmental value" - a French certification for preserving the natural ecosystem and minimizing the pressure on the environment).

Want to visit the most famous wine regions of Europe yet go to boutique family-run wineries with an environmental friendly approach? Join me on my upcoming wine tours! I promise great wines, off-the-radar wineries and warm welcomes!

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