Fortunately, his daughter, Nicole, and her husband, Bernard Levet, were prepared to continue Chambeyron’s life’s work. It was with the formidable 1983 vintage that Bernard Levet took over the wine production as well as the management of the vineyard with Nicole. This exceptional couple has now been responsible for the development of the domaine, increasing the vineyard holdings and expanding the cellar capacity so that they can now bottle their entire production. Nicole and Bernard have now been joined by their daughter, Agnes, who has inherited the love for vineyard work and obsession with detail that are essential parts of her parents’ character.
The Domaine’s current total production is 12,000 to 15,000 bottles annually and is exclusively of the appellation of Cote Rotie. We can proudly say that we have imported the wines of this domaine since that fabled 1983 vintage, never missing a vintage and eagerly accepting our annual allocation.
The domaine consists of 3.5 hectares of vineyards, all of which are located within the boundaries of the town of Ampuis and are entitled to the Cote Rotie appellation. The vines are dispersed among six separate parcels:
“Chavaroche” (Cote Brune/southwest exposure/average age 40 years/1.2 hectare)
“Landonne” (Cote Brune/one-third hectare/entirely old vines)
“Font Jean” (Cote Brune/young vines/.15 hectare)
“Les Craies” (Cote Blonde/southwest exposure/entirely old vines/half hectare)
“Mollard” (Cote Blonde/southeast exposure/old vines/one-third hectare)
“Moulin” (situated just below La Turque/young vines/.4 hectare)
The vineyards are all steeply terraced and must be worked and harvested manually. In my entire experience, I have encountered no one who takes better care nor manages a vineyard with the talent of the Levet family.
The grapes are generally not destemmed before passing through a pneumatic press. The primary fermentation takes place in epoxy lined cuves. There is a long maceration and the cuvaison lasts three weeks. The fermentation temperatures reach 30 degrees centigrade. The malolactic fermentation normally finishes by the end of the year. The wine is then racked into large oak barrels where it spends the remainder of its first year. At the beginning of the second year, the wines are racked into medium-sized barrels (“demi-muid”) 10 – 15% of which are new. In the third year, the wines are racked again and left to complete the barrel aging in a mixture of “demi-muid” and small barrels. The wines are bottled after three years of barrel aging with a light fining and no filtration. NOTE: Bernard Levet’s wines are well-structured wines that are built for aging and experience significant improvement with time in bottle. In our opinion, these wines at maturity reflect most effectively the true nature of the terroir of Cote Rotie.
|Cote Rotie La Chavaroche: The cuvee that we have imported from the outset (1983 vintage) is from the “Chavaroche” vineyard. As explained above, this wine is aged for thirty to thirty-six months prior to bottling. It is, quite simply, a ferocious wine, unique in its uninhibited expression of the smells and flavors of the appellation. No compromise is brooked here. The result is a wine that is controversial, too “wild” for many but, for us, one of the most elite wines in our personal pantheon. We import annually approximately 2400 bottles (a mix of 750mls and magnums).|
|Cote Rotie Les Journaries: Since the 2004 vintage, we have expanded our work with the Levet family to include a second bottling of Cote Rotie known as “Les Journaries”, a cuvée drawn from grapes harvested from old vines in the “La Landonne” lieu-dit. This wine is more subtle, more elegant and “quieter” if you will than the “Chavaroche”. At the same time, it is very much a Levet wine with a bouquet of violets, wild berries, a touch of animal and resinous-like tannins that speak of the inclusion of stems (a hallmark of the Levet tradition). The “Journaries” is approachable at an earlier stage than its companion “La Chavaroche” but, that being said, it is a wine that not only ages gracefully but almost requires a touch of patience. We now import approximately 1500 bottles plus magnums of this cuvée each vintage.|
|Côte-Rôtie: The “house cuvée” is a selected blend from all the parcels that the Levet family owns. Produced in the same manner as “La Chavaroche” and “Les Journaries,” this bottling tends to be the most open and immediately seductive of the three versions of Levet Côte-Rôtie. This easiness is relative, of course, for this bottling still impresses. Levet’s typical smoky and savage character is here counterpointed by an elegant, floral, and wild-berry fruit. 2015 marks the first vintage that we have imported this cuvée. Alas, we have now sourced all that is available of this storied domaine.|
|Domaine Name||VIGNOBLES LEVET|
|How many years has the family owned the domaine?||90 years|
|How many generations?||4|
|How many hectares of vines are leased?||0|
|How many hectares of vines are owned?||4|
|Are your vineyards or wines Organic or Biodynamic Certified? If yes, in the EU? In the US? If no, are you in the process of becoming certified? When?||Lutte raisonnée. In the process of becoming certified HVE (Haute Valeur Environnementale) by “Vignerons Indépendants de France”|
PLEASE ALSO ADDRESS THE FOLLOWING IN YOUR REPLY: Do you do field work and harvest manually? By machine? By horse?
|Manual vine works : pruning, tying-up, topping, harvest|
|Do you practice green harvest? Leaf thinning?||We practice green harvest and moderate leaf-thinning|
|How do you fertilize?||In February –March we use organic amendment with sheep manure|
|Do you typically sell or buy any grapes? Please specify.||No|
|Do you sell off any of your wine en vrac/allo sfuso?||Yes|
|Appellation||AOP Côte Rôtie|
|%ABV||Alc 12,5% by vol|
|# of bottles produced||15 000|
|Grams of Residual Sugar||> 2 g/l|
|VINEYARD AND GROWING INFORMATION|
|Vineyard/lieu dit name(s) and locations||Côte Brune, Côte Blonde, Chavaroche, Landonne, Mollard, Baleyat, Truchet, Leyat|
|Exposures and slope of vineyards||South to South-west. Slope 20%|
|Soil Types(s)||Mica - schist|
|Average vine age (per vineyard)||40 years|
|Average Vine Density (vines/HA)||10 000 vines/ha|
|Approximate harvest date(s)||42998|
|PLEASE SHARE ANY NOTES ABOUT HARVEST/GROWING SEASON FOR THIS WINE IN THIS VINTAGE||In 2016, the year was late.|
|HOW DOES IT COMPARE TO PREVIOUS VINTAGES?||After a mild and dry winter, spring was fresh and humid. The summer was hot and dry. The grapes development was affected by the « Millerandage » and the Mildew attacks were numerous. Harvest should be for the late September 2016, with a very good health status, similar maturity with the vintage 2010 and a degree/acidity balance close to 2011. The vintage 2016 is promising. The vintage 2015 was very hot and dry from June 15th. The harvests were precocious (early September) and produced concentrated wine, tannic and with a good potential of ageing (15 years)|
|% whole cluster, % destemmed||Cuvee La Chavaroche : whole cluster. Cuvée Les Journaries : 60% whole cluster|
|Fermentation: vessel type and size||epoxy coated concrete tank|
|Duration of cuvaison||20 days|
|Select or indigenous yeast?||Select yeasts|
|Please share notes about winemaking process. PLEASE ADDRESS THE FOLLOWING, IF APPLICABLE: pump-overs, punch-downs, racking, movement/transfer of wine done by gravity or pumping?), battonnage, malolactic fermentation allowed, chaptalization||Regular pumping-over. Pneumatic press.Free-run wines and press wines are separated. Malolactic fermentation|
|Elevage: vessel type(s) and size(s)||Ageing in barrels (600L)|
|Duration of elevage||24 months|
|Duration of bottle ageing before release to US market||2 months|
|Do you practice fining and filtration? If yes, please describe||Fining with GreenFine Wine. No filtration|
|Do you add sulfur? If so when and how much? How much sulfur remains in the wine at release?||We use SO2 : On the grape harvest : 5g/hl. At the end of the malolactic fermentation : 2 to 3 g/hl. During the ageing if necessary after 2 years : n1g/hl. At the bottling the total SO2 level is : 80 to 100 mg/l for red wines with potential of ageing|
|PLEASE DESCRIBE THIS FINISHED WINE FROM THIS VINTAGE. HOW DOES IT COMPARE TO PREVIOUS VINTAGES?||We recently bottled the vintage 2014. It is aromatic, delicate and elegant. This vintage will quickly develop, spices and toasted notes, characteristics of our terroir|
It is always immensely satisfying when a great grower finally gets their due. Domaine Levet in Côte-Rôtie has been a cornerstone of our portfolio since the 1983 vintage—the first they ever produced—and, while they have always had a loyal following, it is only in recent years that demand for their uncompromisingly feral wines has exploded.
Michael Kane and I just wrapped up 9 days on the road visiting our growers in the northern and southern Rhône, Provence, Languedoc – Roussillon and Bordeaux. We were the beneficiaries of beautiful Indian summer weather during the entirety of our trip, one of the few blessings from global warming.
Etienne Becheras * Domaine Lionnet * Bernard Levet Guillaume Gilles * Xavier Gerard By: Neal Rosenthal & Neil Rosen We will soon receive our most significant shipments of the year from our producers in the Northern Rhône. Recently, we have made substantial additions to our Northern Rhône portfolio; thus, this annual offer has grown to […]
April 2017 Vinous By Josh Raynolds Famille Levet With a mere three and a half hectares of vines, all of them in Côte-Rôtie, the Levets’ wines will never be especially easy to find, but they have become a beacon for fans of traditional renditions of the appellation. Made with a high percentage of whole clusters […]