On Friday, we had the great fortune of visiting Domaine Tortochot in Gevrey-Chambertin. And though Chantal Tortochot was away on business, we toured the cellar with Marianne, Chantal’s assistant.
As a 4th generation vintner, Chantal worked with her father, Gabriel Tortochot, until he passed away in 2001, when she took over the Domaine. With a total of 11ha, Tortochot owns 30 parcels, which is unusual in Gevrey-Chambertin where there are 90 producers, many of whom rent their vineyards. In addition to their holdings in Gevery-Chambertin, the family also owns seven rows of the famed Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru.
Marianne in the cellar with Laura, Georgia and Jenna
Touring the cellar with Marianne, we tasted through many barrels of the 2011 vintage, including Morey St Denis, Gevrey-Chambertin ‘Les Jeunes-Rois’, 1er Cru ‘Lavaux St Jacques’, 1er Cru ‘Les Champeaux’ and Mazy-Chambertin Grand Cru. As we swirled, sipped and spit, Marianne spoke of how Chantal has changed the winemaking process at Tortochot, since she took over, by minimizing the wine’s movement as it’s vinified. With less racking and little pumping, Chantel reduces any damage that such motion might cause. By constructing a new addition to the winery, one that would allow her to move the wines via gravity, Chantal makes wines that suffer less oxidation while traveling.
And though she made great changes in the winery, she’s also altered the family’s practices in the vineyard. In the 1970′s and 80′s many producers in Gevrey-Chambertin began to reduce their vineyard spraying, which led some to practice organic farming without certification. In 2003, Chantal successfully converted her Gevery-Chambertin ‘Les Corvees’ vineyard to organic, which led to the conversion all of her holdings, beginning in 2008. By 2013, all of her plots will be certified organic by EcoCert.
The ladies of TEW with a few vineyards in the background, including Lavaux-St-Jacques 1er Cru to the left & Champeaux 1er Cru
When we retired to the tasting room to sample through the bottles, Marianne spoke of the 2010 vintage, which had limited yields. With a frost in April, they lost 40% of their fruit. The berries that remained were quite small, yielding a large skin-to-fruit ratio, which Marianne said, “was very interesting for us in terms of flavor, color and tannins.” After additional rainfall in the summer, they had to sort through the grapes during harvest, but the end result is a “very pretty vintage.”
“A lot of journalists like 2009, but we think that 2010 is a very nice vintage because it’s easy to drink now,” says Marianne. And after tasting through eight selections, we couldn’t agree more!
Stay tuned for tasting notes and additional information on the plots, when we return to Domaine Tortochot in a couple of days.