Bernard Bouvier, Domaine René Bouvier in Marsannay.
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verything has changed since I took over the domaine in 1992. No more herbicides. Yields are lower. We are certified organic. When I started out I was too young. My wines were too extracted, too concentrated. But then again, that was what it was like in the 1990s. Everybody was extracting. Over a period from 2001 to 2003 I began extracting less. Today I don’t do it at all.

This is Bernard Bouvier. He runs Domaine René Bouvier. Originally a Marsannay domaine it is now located in Brochon, just north of Gevrey-Chambertin. With its 20 appellations the domaine covers 18 hectares, from Dijon down to Vosne-Romanée.

Marsannay, Burgundy.– A lot of it is Marsannay, both red and white, he continues. But there is also Montre-Cul in Dijon, Fixin and three different village Gevrey-Chambertin. There is premier cru Gevrey-Chambertin and Chambolle-Musigny. I have three grand crus. And there is a tiny bit of village Vosne-Romanée.

Bernard Bouvier’s father only singled out one of the Marsannay lieux-dits. He bottled Clos du Roy separately. The rest went into one single cuvée of Marsannay rouge. Then a new generation of growers came along, with their minds set on premier crus for the village, and over the past years we have seen a growing number of separate bottlings of the various Marsannay lieux-dits.

Les Fontenys, Gevrey-Chambertin.– Since 1985 there has been a lot of work done within the appellation in order to improve the quality, says Bernard Bouvier. The yields are lower. We have been discussing barrels and harvest dates.

Together they have been tasting a lot. The growers have become more familiar with the different parcels. Today they have a much better picture of the appellation.

– Clos du Roy and Longeroies are always the ones that end up at the top in blind tastings. There are others that are very interesting, such as Les Grasses Têtes, La Charme aux Prêtres, Les Favières, Champ Salomon, Clos de Jeu, Champs Perdrix and Les Boivin. All are very good, but Clos du Roy and Longeroies are on another level.

The two are right next to each other, just north of the village of Marsannay. But while Longeroies is in the commune of Marsannay, Clos du Roy is in Chenôve. Clos du Roy is facing east. Longeroies is facing more to the south.

Echézeaux, Burgundy.– Clos du Roy was part of Dr. Lavalle’s classification (in 1855), says Bernard Bouvier. For me this is the absolute top of Marsannay. My vines are pinot fin, selection massale. The berries are small and the yields are low. An average year I make 30–35 hl/ha. A less good year it is 20 hl/ha. Generally Clos du Roy is a wine that needs time. You should keep it for at least four or five years.

Across the Marsannay appellation, which stretches across Chenôve, Marsannay and Couchey, the soil varies from reddish to yellowish.

– Clos du Roy has a yellowish soil, almost sandy, says Bernard Bouvier. In Longeroies the soil is deeper, with more clay, producing a wine which is more approachable when young.

Marsannay, Burgundy.In addition to these two wines Bernard Bouvier has chosen to single out Champ Salomon and En Ouzeloy. There is also a cuvée called Le Finage, which is a blend of La Morisotte, En Combereau, Ouzeloy, Clos du Roy, Le Petit Puits, Es Chezots and Les Étalles. In white there is Marsannay Le Clos.

– En Ouzeloy is next to Longeroies, where the valley opens up into the plain. It is almost flat. The soil has a lot of small stones in it. This is a wine which is mainly about finesse and minerality. Nothing like Longeroies.

– Champ Salomon is in Couchey, close to Château de Marsannay. There is a little bit of gravel. The wine is quite full, but with finesse.

Charmes-Chambertin, Gevrey-Chambertin.Couchey is also the place of the only white Marsannay of Domaine René Bouvier. Le Clos is a monopole just behind the village. It is a large chunk of land, three hectares in total. The soil is clay and limestone, with a bit of marl.

– I bought this vineyard in 1998. The vines are about 40 years old. I use demi-muids, 600-litre-barrels, for this wine. It preserves the freshness. The wine stays in the barrel for a year. After that I leave it in tank for six to eight months before bottling.

In 2011 Bernard Bouvier stopped making Marsannay rosé.

– It’s not where my passion is, he shrugs. Too technical, too stressful. But all my friends in Marsannay make rosé. You can find very good rosé here.

Bernard Bouvier, Domaine René Bouvier in Marsannay.The premier crus – Les Fuées in Chambolle-Musigny and Les Fontenys in Gevrey-Chambertin – and the grand crus – Echézeaux, Clos de Vougeot and Charmes-Chambertin – of Domaine René Bouvier are all en férmage, rented. Les Fuées is to the immediate south of Bonnes Mares and Les Fontenys is next to Ruchottes-Chambertin and Mazis-Chambertin.

– In Echézeaux I am in En Orveaux, which is the northernmost part of the appellation, says Bernard Bouvier. It is at the beginning of the valley and it is not very steep. The vines are 60 years old. My parcel in Charmes-Chambertin has about the same age, while the vines in Clos de Vougeot are slightly younger.

The Echézeaux sees 20 to per cent new wood, Clos de Vougeot about the same and Charmes-Chambertin 50 per cent.

– In Clos de Vougeot you have a kind of clay which is quite similar to the clay in Vosne-Romanée. It produces a wine with very delicate tannins, almost sweet. I don’t produce much grand cru. Only four barrels of each.

© 2017 Ola Bergman