- Bourgogne, Burgundy, France
"Banning any synthetic elements in the vineyards and cellar is incredibly important, but we must go even further. The environment is central to everything we do and we are convinced that a rich and healthy ecosystem is the only guarantee for healthy grapes, with complex and deep flavors, and balance allowing the most natural vinification possible." - Pablo and Vincent Chevrot
Maranges is located at the southern-most part of the Côte de Beaune, producing red wines that Clive Coates describes as “honest, sturdy and rustic in the best sense… (and) with good acidity”. This was the reputation of Maranges, but it's changing, in no small part due to the work of the Chevrot family. The Chevrots have been making wine in Maranges since 1830, and today the winery is run by two brothers, Pablo and Vincent Chevrot. Their parents started bottling wines under the Domaine Chevrot name in the nineteen seventies and the family played a key role in Maranges becoming an appellation, which was finally granted in 1988. Before 1988, wines here were classified simply as Côte de Beaune - Villages. It's worth noting that the appellation of Maranges covers three small villages: Dezize, Sampagny, and Cheilly. Pablo Chevrot was President of the appellation of Maranges for a few years, so if you have any questions about Maranges, he is a good person to start with. Now, aside from managing the winery, he keeps himself busy as a founding member and the Vice President of "Les Aligoteurs", an association of wine growers with old-vine aligoté who aim to promote high quality aligoté, made by talented winemakers.
Today, Domaine Chevrot owns 18.5 hectare of vines; 50% pinot noir, 40% chardonnay, and ten percent aligoté in appellations of Maranges, Santenay, and the Hautes Côtes de Beaune. Their oldest plots were planted by the current winemakers’ grandfather and are up to 75 years old. The brothers, Pablo and Vincent have maintained the traditions of their parents but have built upon their success: starting with conversion of the vineyards to organic viticulture in 2008. Working the soil is important and they own two horses and are now ploughing five hectares by horse. Seeded cover crops are another important element that brings fertility to the soil, aerates and restructures the soil, and limits erosion. Different plant types bring different elements: grains for structure, beans and clover trap nitrogen from the air and it gathers in the roots, getting released back to the soil. And cruciferous plants, like mustard, bring minerals and aerate the soil. They use organic compost in the vineyards and a minimum of copper and sulfur treatments as needed to treat oidium and mildew. They are practicing biodynamics as well but are not certified.
Chevrot's goal is to make wines that reflect their terroir and the vintage, which means as little tinkering in the cellar as possible. The brothers never add enzymes, acidify or chaptalize and the red wines do not see any sulfur until bottling. The entry-level cuvées are destemmed and some whole clusters are kept on the village and 1er cru cuvées. Fermentations are completed only with the indigenous yeasts. The total sulfur is ten milligrams per liter on the reds and 30 - 50 milligrams per liter on the whites. The amount of new oak used depends on the cuvée and it's always used judiciously; Pablo explained that oak is necessary in Maranges because the region produces very powerful wines like Pommard or Nuits-Saint-Georges. The wines show exceptionally well young, something that Pablo attributes to not using much sulfur.
Bowler has been working with Domaine Chevrot since 2010 and its been incredible to follow their journey. Maybe ten years ago, the wines had elements that could have been described as "sturdy and rustic". They were very powerful wines then and they still are today, but now, when I look through my tasting notes, amongst all of the detailed terroir info (Pablo is a fount of knowledge; great terroir map here), I see certain words repeated, "chrystalline, great tension, structured and pretty, yummy," and the highest praise, "excellent!!!" Over the years, they have fine-tuned their work and one word that I agree with Coates on is "honest". The Chevrot wines are a true expression of their terroir and show great purity with nothing added. -Michele Peters, Bowler Portfolio Manager.