To visit Domaine Chevrot’s Maranges 1er cru vineyards of “Le Croix Moines” and “La Fussière,” winegrower Pablo Chevrot locks in the four-wheel drive on his truck and buckles the seatbelt. He navigates up a rocky, steep slope to the high terrasse where the marvelous climats lie in serenity and sunshine.
For Pablo and his brother Vincent, the enthralling panoramic views from this beautiful place are a bonus. Cultivating vines in the distinctive terroir holds the primary attraction. The vineyards hug the southern tip of Burgundy’s Côte de Beaune and extend over three villages—Dezize, Sampigny and Cheilly.
The Chevrot’s cultivate mainly “old vine” Pinot Noir plants here. But seven years ago they jumped at the chance to plant Chardonnay vines at the top of the hillside, just below the forest in a site abandoned for nearly sixty years.
“It was an unique opportunity to cultivate and reclaim premier cru vineyards, so I was very happy to do it,” Pablo recalls. “But the work was longer and much harder than we expected.”
They cleared dense scrub and trees and removed huge stones from the soils before planting the vineyard with diverse selection masssale cuttings from the best vines in their existing vineyards. The method decreases yields compared to using commercial clones, but it enhances the chances for more flavorful wines with distinct personality.
The forest shelters the vines from cold north winds from above, while consistent warm air from below prevents damaging frosts. But its the complex soils that Pablo and Vincent find especially intriguing.
Marls—a mix of clay and fossilized limestone—predominate in the subsoils, while the covering scree holds limestone rocks mixed with significant numbers of chailles. The latter are small, reddish, flinty stones rich in silica that regulates moisture. Pablo says the complex soils convey refreshing minerality and smokiness to complement the grapes’ ripe fruitiness and ample acidity.
To maximize the best quality fruit, the Chervot’s have long worked organically without applying chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and fungicides. The process requires year round, tricky vineyard work that over time results in healthy, vital soils and naturally vigorous vines.
Until 2016. Domaine Chevrot maintained ECOCERT certification, but this year’s extraordinary mildew attacks during flowering required extreme measures.
“We sprayed chemicals to combat the incredible mildew. We still lost 50% rather than the entire crop,” Pablo notes. “It was very difficult, but the final quality was good in 2016.”
The vineyards will lose organic certification for three years because of the extraordinary measures. But Pablo remains optimistic.
“This year alone did not completely undo the good effects of the hard organic work we’ve done on the vines for many years before,” he adds.
Down the hillside on a lower terrasse near the Cosanne River, the brothers cultivate both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in Maranges “Sur le Chene,” a village lieu dit.
Again the vines hug a steep slope, but here the soils combine Jurassic limestone and alluvial, decomposed granite sands and rocks. Large stones and gravelly soils predominate nearer the bottom as the vineyard approaches the river.
Across the small river closer to the Chevrot family homestead, the domaine has vines classified as Haut Côtes de Beaune and Bourgogne. Pablo and Vincent also make a dry white Aligoté from 50-old vines as well as dry, sparkling Crémant de Bourgogne. The domaine produces other red and white wines from vines in the neighboring village of Santenay.
Over a casual, but tasty lunch of Jambon Persillé and Bœuf Bourguignon, the brothers join their affable parents, Fernand and Catherine. The parents began expanding the domaine significantly in 1973, and they clearly passed along a passion for the soils, vines and wines to their sons.
The brothers work with dedication and precision to produce pure, delicious wines as naturally as possible. Now the circle remains unbroken. Pablo and Vincent are introducing their own young children to the passions, pleasures and traditions of winegrowing.
Reasonable US domestic prices for Domaine Chevrot’s high quality wines create tremendous value.
2015 Domaine Chevrot Maranges Blanc: The fruit comes from gravelly soils, and in the warm 2015 vintage ad touches of botrytis mold which according to Pablo further concentrated the Chardonnay. The juice was barrel fermented. Bottling occurred with minimal sulfites. Ripe peach. apricot and orange aromas balanced with pure, rich fruit and fresh acidity. Outstanding wine.
2014 Domaine Chevrot Maranges “La Fussière” 1er cru Blanc: Made from the younger Chardonnay vines planted at top of the steep hillside in limestone and “Chaille” soils. Fresh grapefruit and smoky aromas lead to crisp citrus and apple flavors. Well balanced, pure fruit in the dry finish.
2014 Domaine Chevrot Bourgogne Aligoté, Cuvée Speciale “Tilleul”: Made from 50-year old vines in a site farmed with a horse. The wine is barrel aged for fifteen months. Aromas of quince and peach open to ripe fruit of citrus and ginger spice. Fresh acidity and refreshing mineral notes balance the clean, direct and dry finish.
2014 Domaine Chevrot Maranges “Le Croix Moines” 1er cru: Fifty percent of the hand harvested Pinot Noir grapes for this wine fermented in whole bunches with stems to create balanced texture. Ripe, black fruit aromas open to black cherry flavors. Vibrant acidity and firm, elegant tannins frame the long, fruity finish. A few years of cellar aging will round out the wine beautifully.
2013 Domaine Chevrot Maranges “Le Croix Moines” 1er Cru: The dark red cherry color unfolds fresh cherry and raspberry aromas with violet floral notes and subtle nuances of oak. Absolutely delicious, pure red fruit flavors—wild strawberries, ripe cherries and pomegranate– balance with uplifting, fresh acidity. Terrific wine for drinking now while the 2014 ages.
2010 Domaine Chevrot Maranges “Le Croix Moines” 1er Cru: The light ruby color offers enticing, bright red fruit aromas. Fresh red fruit and vibrant, fresh acidity, balance with smooth, elegant tannins. The wine has matured nicely for pleasurable drinking.