Elodie Chalmeau at Domaine Christine, Elodie & Patrick Chalmeau in Chitry-le-Fort.

espite being located in Chitry-le-Fort it was Chablis that brought Elodie Chalmeau back to the family domaine. Her parents had received an offer to buy a parcel of Chablis premier cru Montmains.

– At the time I was at the marketing department of the cooperative, La Chablisienne, says Elodie Chalmeau. If I was interested in taking on the domaine my parents would accept the offer for the Montmains vineyard. So since september 2005 I have been here.

Chitry-le-Fort, Burgundy.Chitry-le-Fort is just outside the Chablis appellation, a 15-minute drive southwest of Chablis itself. Just across the motorway, the route de soleil, you have the village of Courgis and Chablis premier crus like Beauregards and Côte de Jouan. Chitry-le-Fort has its own regional appellation, Bourgogne Chitry, which comes in all three colours – red, white and rosé. A bit further down the road you have other wine-producing villages such as Saint-Bris-le-Vineaux, Coulanges-la-Vineuse and Irancy.

Bourgogne Chitry is a very small appellation. There are just 42 hectares of chardonnay and 40 hectares of pinot noir. In the village there are about ten growers who sell in bottle.

– Our domaine goes back to my grandfather, says Elodie Chalmeau. He had a few hectares of vines here in Chitry. Then in 1977 my father arrived. Together with my mother he developed the domaine. Already my grandfather did some bottling. Then my father increased the amount of wine bottled at the domaine. Still, he was mainly a farmer, working with other crops as well. But in 1984 he stopped that in order to be able to focus on the wine.

The fortified church in Chitry-le-Fort, Burgundy. Today the domaine covers 18 hectares. With the exception of the Montmains and some village appellation Chablis all the vineyards are located around the village.

– We have six hectares of aligoté. Three and a half hectares each of Chitry rouge and Chitry blanc. We have two hectares of village Chablis and 0.25 hectare of Chablis Montmains. And there is 1.8 hectare for crémant. There are also some vineyards which have been planted recently, but are still not in production. You’ll find the aligoté on your left when you arrive in Chitry. The Chitry rouge is behind the church and the Chitry blanc is on the opposite side of the village.

Domaine Christine, Elodie & Patrick Chalmeau is almost barrel-free territory. The majority of the wines are made in tank. Just two cuvées see any oak, and when they do the barrels are not new.

Chitry-le-Fort, Burgundy.– In Chitry I don’t believe there are any parts which are better suited for red or white. Here you often have parcels of chardonnay and pinot noir next to each other. It’s clay and limestone here, but less limestone than in Chablis. Being so close to Chablis means we’re bound to be compared. In general I would say that Chitry is more aromatic than Chablis.

The village appellation Chablis of the domaine comes from two different parcels. One in Courgis and one along the road between Chablis and Préhy. Neither is very far from Chitry.

Chitry-le-Fort, Burgundy.– The parcel in Courgis always deliver riper grapes, says Elodie Chalmeau. The rootstocks are not the same. In Préhy the soil is a bit more stony. When you blend the two parcels you don’t get too much acidity. In the final blend you have one third from Courgis and two thirds from Préhy. The result is rounder, with more intensity. The Chablis appellation is huge. So depending on where you are – if you are in Préhy, Lignorelles, Beines, Beru or Maligny for instance – the character will be different.

The Montmains comes from the Butteaux part of the appellation, right in front of the village of Courgis. The vines are old, planted in the late 1950s.

There is also a second village Chablis bottling, the Cuvée Camille, named after her son. This cuvée is one of only two at the domaine which sees any oak at all.

– Cuvée Camille is 100 per cent barrels, says Elodie Chalmeau. But there is no new oak. I use barrels that previously have been used for up to ten wines. The first year of that cuvée we didn’t have any used barrels, so we had to use all new ones. As could be expected, that was too much.

Main street in Chitry-le-Fort, Burgundy.Since 2005 and Elodie Chalmeau’s return to the domaine a lot has been planted. Close to six hectares have been added to the domaine.

– Apart from that I have remained true to how things were done before at the domaine, she explains. Obviously, together with my parents I have been modernising the domaine in order to make life easier now that I’m running the place alone. There is a new press, new tanks, a new harvest machine etc. I had no wish to make any drastic changes.

As with the village Chablis there are two cuvées of the red Chitry. One in tank and one in barrels. The latter takes its name from Elodie Chalmeau’s daughter Adèle.

Elodie Chalmeau at Domaine Christine, Elodie & Patrick Chalmeau in Chitry-le-Fort.– Up until four years ago I mentioned the barrels on the label. ”Élevé en fûts” it said. But I realised it scared people off. They assumed the wine would be oaky, which it is not, and they were not interested in tasting. The new labels work much better and the kids are happy to have their names there.

– I try to make reds which are fruity and quite easy to drink, easy to drink young. I believe you can keep the Chitry reds, because the substance is there. Four-five years is perfect for a Chitry.

Elodie Chalmeau also makes an Irancy, but from bought in grapes since she has not been able to find any vineyards there to buy.

– It is half tank, half barrel, she says. I would really like to have some vineyards in Irancy. Even if I buy these grapes it is not the same as having your own vineyard.

Further down the street in Chitry-le-Fort there is another Domaine Chalmeau. Domaine Edmond Chalmeau & Fils to be precise. But despite the name and the proximity they have not been able to find any connections between the two families.

– No, says Elodie Chalmeau. Many arrive here thinking they are at the other domaine, and vice versa. We have not managed to find any connection, at least not for the last 200 years. It’s the same village, the same street, the same occupation, the same name. But no.

© 2019 Ola Bergman