Domaine Chezeaux’s 2015s: Power and Harmony

Posted on Posted in Articles, Domaine Jerome Chezeaux, RWM Contributor

For a former rugby player, Jerome Chezeaux produces some surprisingly sleek and elegant wines. Following up on a reference from Regis Forey, we began working with Domaine Chezeaux in the mid-1990s, having been immediately smitten by Jerome’s egoless, extraordinarily precise renderings of some of the finest sites in the southern sector of the Côte de Nuits. And, in 2018, we celebrate our 25th year of partnership.

A tall, broad man, Jerome has always sported a clean-shaven head that allows his warm, smiling, gently mischievous eyes to stand out in full relief. He is cut fully from the old-school-Burgundian cloth—a man of few words but with an extraordinary intelligence and bred-in-bone understanding of his craft. From his twelve hectares in Nuits-Saint-Georges and Vosne-Romanee, he produces wines completely lacking in pretense or showmanship, perfectly in keeping with his low-key demeanor. His bright young daughter Lyse, having recently completed a series of international viticultural internships, now works for the winery full-time, and the admiration and respect she displays toward Jerome speak volumes about the family—and promise a great future for the domaine.

We are preparing to receive the 2015s from Domaine Chezeaux later this month, and this much-heralded vintage indeed yielded perhaps the greatest wines of Jerome’s career thus far. His prioritizing of freshness over richness can yield wines of almost edgy leanness in less “solar” vintages (though we wholly adore such scintillating Burgundies), but in a naturally generous vintage such as 2015 the balance is eerily perfect. Fruit is a hint more fleshy, mouthfeels subtly silkier, but the characteristic Chezeaux drive and tension are fully intact. There is never a molecule of fat on Jerome’s wines, and these 2015s are no exception—in fact, we feel you’d be hard-pressed to find ‘15s of this level of filigree precision. Chezeaux wines are always comfortable in their structure but never show signs of undue extraction, and, though these 2015s may demand a bit of time, they resonate with the hum of perfect structural harmony. Buy and cellar these wines with confidence, and revel in the fact that they are priced with almost shocking modesty—a reflection of their creator’s selflessness and spirit.

2016 Bourgogne Aligote
Chezeaux owns a small 0.8-hectare parcel of Aligote in the village of Premeaux-Prissey. Never one to overemphasize richness in his wines, Jerome’s Aligote always offers fitting cut and notable dryness, its flinty core laced with subtle white-flower accents and penetrating citrus fruit. Yields for the 2016 white wines were reduced by nearly 90% due to the devastating late-April frost.

2016 Bourgogne Blanc
Jerome’s fascinating Bourgogne Blanc, from a third of a hectare of old vines in Premeaux-Prissey, speaks of its origins in this specific sector of the southern Cote de Nuits in its unusual encepagement. Comprised of 80% Pinot Blanc and 20% Chardonnay, the grapes are harvested and fermented together, partly in steel and partly in used barrels. Though clearly a vehicle for the underlying limestone, its fruit tends to be more pit-fruit-driven, slightly waxier, and with a whiff of exotic flowers not typically associated with Cote d’Or Chardonnay.

2015 Bourgogne Rouge
Chezeaux’s exemplary Bourgogne Rouge comes from a smattering of parcels in Premeaux-Prissey and Nuits-Saint-Georges encompassing 2.8 hectares in total. A wonderful representative of both Jerome’s style and the classic character of Nuits-Saint-Georges and environs, it emphasizes fresh, lively fruit buttressed by firm minerality, all on a racy, energetic frame. This is a sleek, articulate Bourgogne Rouge unencumbered by oak influence, as Chezeaux employs no new barrels in its elevage.

2015 Vosne-Romanee
Jerome owns a half-hectare’s worth of villages-level Vosne-Romanee, spread among three lieux-dits: “Aux Reas,” “Bossieres,” and “Meziere.” His remarkably deft, light touch allows that classic Vosne-Romanee spice and silkiness to shine through brilliantly, its dark, regal, seductive fruit contrasting the gutsier, more forcefully mineral carriage of its Nuits-Saint-Georges brethren.

2015 Nuits-Saint-Georges
Chezeaux’s holdings of villages-level Nuits-Saint-Georges encompass 3.3 hectares spread throughout the appellation, with a significant proportion from the lieux-dits “Aux Saint Julien” and “Chaliots.” In keeping with the spirit of the underlying terroir, this is wilder in character than the Vosne-Romanee above—marked by notes of iron, and with a subtle and charming rowdiness in its tannins. Never deficient in fruit, it offers plenty of thrilling earth and sous-bois elements as well, all in an invigoratingly driving fashion.

2015 Nuits-Saint-Georges “Les Charbonnieres – Vieilles Vignes”
With the 2011 vintage (and with our encouragement), Jerome began separating out his oldest villages-level parcel—a 0.67-hectare holding of 80-year-old vines in “Les Charbonnieres,” situated just below the premier cru “Aux Corvees” on the slope in the appellation’s southern sector. Boasting true old-vines power, this is always more thickly fruited and more exuberantly spicy than its counterpart above, with greater generosity and length. Its lusciousness, however, does nothing to mask the underlying detail and stoniness that characterize this cuvee.

2015 Vosne-Romanee 1er Cru “Les Chaumes”
The premier cru “Les Chaumes” lies at the southern edge of Vosne-Romanee, immediately below the hallowed crus “Aux Malconsorts” and “La Tache” on a vein of limestone and marl. Chezeaux owns four-tenths of a hectare here, producing a wine that marries the exotic spice and succulent fruit of Vosne-Romanee with the mineral power of Nuits-Saint-Georges in hugely appealing fashion.

2015 Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru “Aux Boudots”
Always a favorite in Chezeaux’s cellar, “Aux Boudots” is perched at the northern limit of Nuits-Saint-Georges, on the border of Vosne-Romanee. As one might expect given its location, this wine combines classically Nuits-Saint-Georges iron and sous-bois with fruit a bit more caressing and Vosne-Romanee-like than its more southerly situated counterparts. Chezeaux owns a very small 0.34-hectare parcel in this steeply sloping premier cru.

2015 Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru “Rue de Chaux”
Located almost dead-center in the appellation, “Rue de Chaux” is perhaps the most quintessentially Nuits-Saint-Georges among Chezeaux’s premier crus. Jerome owns a mere 0.29 hectares in this steep, topsoil-deficient vineyard, and his unfailingly elegant touch yields a wine of both grace and power. Darkly fruited, dense, and ever-so-slightly brooding, Chezeaux’s “Rue de Chaux” also offers a beguiling perfume and assertive savory-spice elements.

2015 Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru “Les Pruliers”
The smallest-production premier cru in Chezeaux’s cellar, “Les Pruliers” lies near the border of Nuits-Saint-Georges and Premeaux-Prissey in the southern part of the appellation. Jerome works a mere tenth of a hectare here—a parcel of extremely old vines that produce a wine of warmth and generosity. More full-bodied than “Rue de Chaux” above, its fruit is pitched toward the deep-purple and the black, and, while not heavy-handed in the slightest, it emphasizes robustness over sleekness.

2015 Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru “Les Vaucrains”
Nuits-Saint-Georges famously possesses no grand cru vineyards, but “Les Vaucrains” is widely considered one in all but name. Always the most complete of Chezeaux’s premier crus, “Vaucrains” bristles with tension—an authoritative wine that exudes an impression of depth and solidity. Here, the fruit, mineral, and savory elements bind together more tightly, more seamlessly. Jerome owns just over a quarter of a hectare of east-facing vines in “Vaucrains,” and his conservative oak regimen—never more than one-third of the barrels are new—allows one to admire the power of the terroir with great clarity.

2015 Vosne-Romanee 1er Cru “Les Suchots”
With grand crus Romanee-Saint-Vivant and Richebourg right next door, “Les Suchots” lies in one of the most elite neighborhoods in the Cote d’Or. Chezeaux owns a third of a hectare here, and this is often the greatest wine in his cellar. A veritable tsunami of swoon-worthy Vosne spice ushers in fruit both impressively broad and sumptuously precise, yet somehow everything remains focused and fine—a tour de force, vintage after vintage.

2015 Clos de Vougeot
Chezeaux owns a 0.17-hectare sliver of this large grand cru, in the prime sector just above and next to the castle. From these old vines, Jerome produces a wine that does justice to the immense power and complexity this site is capable of at its best. Unapologetically wild, gamy, and structured, it presents a forceful, iron-dominated mineral core flanked by dark fruit and suffused with imposing, muscular tannins. Always the most impenetrable wine in the cellar in its youth, it demands significant cellaring but pays huge dividends in time.

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