A New Summit
Gevrey-Chambertin accounts for the largest surface area under vine in the entire Cote de Nuits, and it can be challenging to get a handle on its broad range of terroirs. How fortunate we at Rosenthal Wine Merchant are, then, to work with Harmand-Geoffroy—a long-established domaine whose enviable holdings lie entirely within the limits of Gevrey, yet encompass so many different iterations of its varied soils and expositions. With this offering, the opportunity to explore and understand the intricacies and delights of the wines of this vaunted terrain are before you in stark relief.
The Harmand-Geoffroy family has worked the land in Gevrey-Chambertin since the end of the 19thcentury, and today the nine-hectare domaine is undergoing a passing of the torch from father Gerard to son Philippe. Although their wines have always displayed an attractively unforced classicism—a 1993 “Clos Prieur” served blind last year was everything one could ask for in mature red Burgundy—they have made notable strides in terms of precision, balance, and expressiveness over the past five years, due in large part to improvements in their cellar work: employing better temperature control during fermentation; managing extraction with greater gentleness and sensitivity; eschewing pumping and moving the wines by gravity only; and refining their oak sources and barrel regimens. The wines today express the telltale meat-and-mineral core of Gevrey-Chambertin with a combination of robust power and an almost glowing clarity of fruit, and the widely varying terroirs are always vividly differentiated, even in the richest of vintages. The vast majority of Harmand-Geoffroy’s holdings are between 55 and 95 years of age (some are even older), and the wines offer a wonderful concentration commensurate with these extremely old, low-yielding vines. Add to that the fact that the family vineyards sweep across the entirety of the appellation from north to south thus providing a rare and breath-taking immersion into the fabled terroir of Gevrey Chambertin.
The imminently arriving 2015s offer the experience of a domaine bringing to bear their significantly improved methodology on a vintage of thrilling quality and enormous potential. Philippe judged the timing of his harvest perfectly, picking between the 5th and 11th of September—slightly early, to preserve acidity—and narrowly escaping an intense rainstorm that took place on the 12th. The fruit was in impeccable condition, although the exceedingly dry growing season resulted in thick-skinned grapes with miserly quantities of juice, resulting in an overall 20% reduction in yields. Philippe was careful not to over-extract, given the potential for such thick-skinned fruit to translate into extremely tannic wines, and indeed the 2015s from Harmand-Geoffroy are harmonious and lovely despite their richness. They are undoubtedly the greatest wines we have ever had the pleasure of purchasing from this domaine, and the wise among you will take happy advantage of their relatively open availability—a scenario which surely will not last, given the level at which Philippe is operating today.
Produced from four hectares’ worth of small parcels scattered throughout the village, Harmand’s Gevrey-Chambertin boasts a vine age of up to 80 years. Old-vine sappiness dominates the palate of this 2015, with thick, kirsch-like fruit, and an unabashed warm-earth element—true, visceral Gevrey-Chambertin with an appealingly old-school bent. 20% new oak.
2015 Gevrey-Chambertin “En Jouise”
“En Jouise” is situated just about dead-center in the appellation, downslope from the village itself and adjacent to “Clos Prieur” (see below). The Harmands exploit a solid hectare here, and the wine they wrest from their 60 to 80-year-old vines is always a standout in the cellar. Higher-toned than the Gevrey-Chambertin above, with a greater sense of precision, this 2015 nonetheless offers formidable stuffing and sap as befitting these elderly vines. 30% new oak.
2015 Gevrey-Chambertin “Clos Prieur”
“Clos Prieur” is one of those vineyards that makes the complexity of Burgundy’s classification system feel almost like a practical joke: part of it is classified as premier cru (and sits just underneath Mazis-Chambertin on the slope), and the other (lower) part is classified as villages. If that weren’t enough, Harmand-Geoffroy’s half-hectare parcel here actually straddles the boundary, with two thirds of it in premier cru territory and one third in villages. But, rather than produce two separate cuvees from this single contiguous holding, they make one wine—a villages in name but a premier cru in personality. Here, minerality comes to the fore, and the palate is no less rich but is more chiseled than the above wines, with a more umami-like sense of earthiness. 40% new oak.
2015 Gevrey-Chambertin “Vieilles Vignes”
This standout cuvee is a blend of holdings in three different lieux-dits—Champerrier, Combe du Dessus, and En Champs—which sit just below the great premier cru “Les Champeaux” (see below). Harmand’s 55 to 85-year-old vines here imbue the wine with a powerful sappiness, an extra layer of density and concentration. The 2015 displays a striking inner-mouth perfume and a gorgeous floral overlay which nicely counterbalances its firmly structured, densely fruited personality. 30% new oak.
2015 Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru “La Perriere”
The first stop on Harmand-Geoffroy’s tour of Gevrey premier crus, “La Perriere” is nestled just below grand cru Mazis-Chambertin on the slope, immediately north of the premier cru section of “Clos Prieur.” The family owns a third of a hectare of 50-year-old vines here, which typically yield a chiseled wine of great finesse. Indeed, the 2015 shows a markedly cool personality for the vintage, with a lifted impression of menthol and exotic spices on the nose, and a driving, red-fruit-dominated palate. 40% new oak.
2015 Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru “La Bossiere – Monopole”
A unique and striking wine in the Harmand-Geoffroy arsenal, “La Bossiere” is a 0.45 premier cru—the smallest premier cru in Gevrey—situated at the very top of the Combe de Lavaux, a parcel owned in its entirety by the Harmand family. At this extreme part of the slope, nearly nonexistent topsoil and a cooler average temperature tend to lead to a wine of drive and focus rather than sheer power. In 2015, this shows the vintage’s succulence and is perhaps slightly less racy than usual, but it finds a real sweet spot between fruit and acidity, shimmering with tension on the long, penetrating finish. 40% new oak.
2015 Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru “Les Champeaux”
“Les Champeaux” rests at the northernmost limit of Gevrey-Chambertin, high up on the hard and thin-soiled bedrock of the Combe de Lavaux. In an appellation of many outstanding crus, Champeaux ranks among the very best and most striking. The Harmands exploit a mere 0.2-hectare plot here, and their 85-year-old vines always produce one of the highlights of their cellar. The 2015 shows more obvious structure than the preceding wines (as befits the terroir), with focused, dark red fruits framing an intensely concentrated palate of almost forbidding minerality. 50% new oak.
2015 Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru “Lavaux Saint Jacques”
Nestled in the heart of the Combe de Lavaux, “Lavaux Saint Jacques” is one of the more famous and coveted sites in the appellation, and for good reason—it encompasses a panoply of seemingly at-odds characteristics with ease, and many consider it a grand cru in all but name. The Harmand family is fortunate to work three quarters of a hectare here, with vines between 45 and 95 years of age. This 2015 combines the intensity of the “Champeaux” above with a more profoundly gamy core, and it displays a level of refinement that is almost startling considering the massive scale of the wine. The palate displays grand-cru-like density and length, and this will prove ravishing in time. 50% new oak.
2015 Mazis-Chambertin Grand Cru
Harmand-Geoffroy exploits over three quarters of a hectare in this great vineyard that lies just north of Clos de Beze and just below Ruchottes-Chambertin on the prime fillet of Gevrey-Chambertin grand cru turf. Produced from vines between 45 and 75 years of age, the Mazis-Chambertin is always the firmest and most youthfully reticent wine in the cellar. This 2015 is positively explosive, brimming with spices both musky and fresh, and offering a kirsch-like core of fruit that completely coats the immense tannins lurking below the surface. The palate unfolds slowly and regally, with great persistence and an underlying sense of energy that speaks to both the quality of the vintage and the skill with which Harmand rendered it.