Working in his dark and simple cellar on a side street in the sleepy village of Prémeaux-Prissey, Jérôme is a rare sight today in the Côte de Nuits. The overwhelming interest in the Côte de Nuits (and its subsequent pricing) that we have seen in recent years has changed the landscape of this esteemed sector of the Côte-d’Or. Land values have skyrocketed over the last decade, making it difficult for the small and traditional domains to expand their holdings or pass them on to the next generation. We cannot help but notice that this newfound wealth has slowly changed the people of the area as well. As we witness these changes over the last few years, we place even more value on the concrete relationship we have with Jérôme Chezeaux.
Tall and menacing, with a rugby player’s build, Jèrôme looks like someone with whom you would want to throw back a few beers at the local bar. His character, by contrast, is warm and gentle. His appearance makes it clear that he spends the majority of his time working his twelve hectares of vineyards, scattered between Premeaux and Vougeot. Since taking over the domaine after his father in 1993, Jèrôme has worked tirelessly to improve the work in the vineyards. His wines are about as honest as can be. He takes a minimalist approach in his cellar, showing a very light hand and trusting that the quality of the work he has performed in the vineyards will lead the wines. We have seen his wines transform over the last two decades, from being honest-but-sometimes-rustic representations of red Burgundy to being some of the finest red Burgundies in our portfolio. At the same time, Jèrôme has managed to keep his pricing stable. Today, there are few vigneron in the Côte du Nuits who offer better value.
Around the 15th of May, we are expecting the arrival of the 2014 reds and 2015 whites from Jérôme Chezeaux. The 2014 vintage is one of the strongest we have seen from this domaine. The wines are classically structured, showing generous fruit, present but gentle tannins, and a firm mineral backbone. Generally, the wines are very balanced, with much cooler fruit flavors that tend toward small, red-berry fruits. The 2014s, more than other vintages, show their typicity with precision. They are a perfect classroom for understanding the differences between the terroirs of this southern sector of the Côte de Nuits. These wines, though structured, have an approachability that makes them a pleasure to drink at this early date. Still, it would not be surprising to see them shut down for a period of time. 2014 is clearly a vintage that longs to be cellared. The 2014s should reward those who give them considerable time to age.
Bourgogne Aligoté 2015
Made from a .8-hectare parcel in Premeaux-Prissey, the 2015 Aligoté is impressive. The power of the vintage gives this wine a bit more body than previous vintages, with a fine silky texture. Still, there is good underlying acidity that translates toward citrus and flint, with good length and density. The wine finishes quite dry with a chalky tannic finish.
Bourgogne Blanc 2015
This is a rare Bourgogne Blanc that is still made principally from Pinot Blanc from a small .36-hectare parcel of old vines. The vineyard is composed of about 80% Pinot Blanc and 20% Chardonnay. The grapes are harvested and fermented together and aged half in barrel and half in stainless steel for about nine months before being bottled. The 2015 is quite fresh, with a bright floral nose. Round on the palate, the fruit feels cool and vibrant, with underlying earthy notes of dried flowers.
Bourgogne Rouge 2014
Chezeaux works almost three hectares of Bourgogne Rouge scattered among several parcels in Nuits-Saint-Georges and Premeaux. The nose is a bit closed and leans toward earth rather than fruit. The wine is quite explosive in the mouth, with shimmering red fruit and a touch of tart-cherry pit. Chezeaux gets more complexity and character in his wines by not doing too much. This is a delightful red Burgundy to drink, while managing to express the unique character of the southern sector of the Côtes de Nuits.
Chezeaux owns almost four hectares that are spread among seven different lieux-dit in Nuit-Saint-Georges. He selects only the best parcels to go into this village cuvée. The vines are quite old, some more than 80 years. Because Jérôme is free to keep the best fruit for himself and sell the less desirable to negociants, this is always one of the great values we have in the Côte de Nuits. The 2014 is vibrant and has pure berry fruit and plenty of mineral lift. The classic Nuits spice and tannin adds elegant character to this wine but does not dominate.
Nuits-Saint-Georges “Les Charbonnieres-Vieilles Vignes” 2014
In the past, “Les Charbonnieres” was blended with the village wine until Jérôme decided to do a separate bottling in 2011. The .67-hectare parcel is ideally located in Prémeaux just below the Premier Cru “Aux Corvées”. The vines are over 80 years old and show the power and concentration that marks this fabled southern sector of the appellation. This is a big step up from the village Nuits: the fruit has a darker tonality, with more hints of iron and a deeper mineral core. The tannins are more present in this classic Nuits, but also more sweet and fine.
Nuits-Saint-Georges Premier Cru “Rue de Chaux” 2014
The “Rue de Chaux”, located in the center of the appellation, expresses the perfect balance of what Nuits-Saint-Georges has to offer. Chezeaux works a .29-hectare parcel of this relatively small Premier Cru. The nose on the 2014 is somewhat firm, with a seasoning of mineral and earth. Contrasting the closed nose, the feel on the palate is much more open, with a blend of red and dark fruit that lean toward fresh, with brisk and deep acidity that lends a firm mineral backbone.
Nuits-Saint-Georges Premier Cru “Les Vaucrains” 2014
When we first started working with Chezeaux in 1999, the vines for this ¼ hectare elite Premier Cru vineyard had been recently planted. Over the last 18 years, we have seen it evolve while improving with each vintage. Now that the vines are roughly a quarter-century old, today we see it beginning to achieve its full potential. Without a doubt, this wine now ranks among the top wines from the Chezeaux cellar. The nose is deep and profound, with a dark, spicy tone and an underlying mineral shine. On the palate, the Vaucrains balances between power and elegance, revealing dark animal layers intertwined with silky, pure cherry fruit.
Nuits-Saint-Georges Premier Cru “Les Pruliers” 2014
Chezeaux works a tiny .09-hectare parcel in this outstanding Premier Cru. Before the “coming of age” of Les Vaucrains, this typically won the prize as the most complex and powerful of his Nuits-Saint-Georges Premier Crus. The 2014 is very open and generous, showing rich, black cherry fruit and a big but sweet tannic backbone. Underneath, the elegance of fine Pinot shines through, with plenty of fresh mineral backbone that lends a silky texture.
Nuits-Saint-Georges Premier Cru “Aux Boudots” 2014
The .34-hectare parcel in “Aux Bodots,” is always a RWM favorite. Situated on the northern Nuits border, adjacent to Vosne-Romanee Premier Cru “Malconsorts”, this vineyard shares some of the softer and regal spicy character of its northern neighbor. The 2014 does not disappoint; the fruit is cool and soft, with a velvety mouthfeel. The red fruit is not too tannic, tastefully sprinkled with earthy black tea and lavender spices. Because of its gentle nature, this is a great Premier Cru to drink early on – but that does not discount from its ability to age.
Jèrôme works three parcels (“Bossières,” “Mezière” and “Aux Réas”) totaling a little more than half a hectare to make this village wine. At first whiff, it is clear that one has left the Nuits appellation. The fruit here is dark, with regal notes of truffle and lavender. The texture is softer and more fruit-forward than his wines from Nuits-Saint-Georges, and the tannins are a bit finer and more forgiving, a complex village level wine that punches way above its weight.
Vosne-Romanée Premier Cru “Les Chaumes” 2014
The “Les Chaumes” is made from a .34-hectare parcel located just beneath “Malconsorts” and “La Tache”. Always stunning, this is one of the more charming and open wines from the Chezeaux cellar. The 2014 is incredibly pure and noble, with ethereal cherry fruit. The wine has explosive minerality, with an almost salty finish. It is quite elegant, and references Chambolle-Musigny as much as it does Vosne-Romanée.
Vosne-Romanée Premier Cru “Les Suchots” 2014
Jèrôme owns about 1/3 of a hectare of 60-year-old vines here, and this is always in the running for King of the Cellar. This stunning Premier Cru is surrounded by Grand Crus, with Richebourg and Romanée-Saint-Vivant on one side and Échezeaux on the other. “Les Suchots” usually gives his Clos de Vougeot a run for its money. The “Suchots” 2014 is quite open and presents layers of red and black fruits that fill the palate with underlying spices of black tea and lavender. The balance of the 2014 vintage lends an elegance and structure that truly brings this wine to another level. A wine of consummate class.
Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru 2014
Chezeux’s Clos de Vougeot is made from a tiny .17-hectare parcel ideally situated in the upper portion of the vineyard. This wine is always a completely different animal from the other wines out of the Chezeaux cellar. The 2014 is dreamy, showing sweet, black-plum-tinged fruit with a licorice spice. Though massive, the wine is still elegant and precise, combining elegance and power like only red Burgundy can. We are fortunate to receive one barrel of this wine a year.