- Tuesday 14 December 2010
London-based wine merchant Roberson recently hosted a rare tasting of Domaine Armand Rousseau - and what a treat it was. It's not every day you get a chance to try a flight of 10 wines from one of the greatest Burgundy producers.
Armand Rousseau began his career as a wine broker, but inherited a few hectares of vines and a cellar at Gevrey Chambertin at the beginning of the 20th century. During the 1910s and 20s, he expanded the domaine, purchasing plots in Charmes-Chambertin, Clos de La Roche and Chambertin. He was one of the first producers to bottle his own wine and to ship wine to the United States at the end of Prohibition in the mid to late 1930s.
By the time of Rousseau's death in 1959, the estate had grown to 6.5 hectares, by then including plots in Mazis-Chambertin (added in 1937), Mazoyeres-Chambertin (in 1940) and the prestigious Clos Saint Jacques (1954). The Domaine passed to Armand's son Charles, who continued to expand the property by buying up parcels in Clos de Bèze (1961), Clos de la Roche (1965 and 1975) and the entire vineyard of Clos des Ruchottes in 1978. Today, Domaine Armand Rousseau stands at just under 14ha and Charle's son Eric Rousseau is the current winemaker.
For me, the highlight of the evening was the 1990 Mazis-Chambertin, followed by the 2001 Chambertin-Clos de Bèze and the 1er cru 2000 Clos Saint-Jacques. Most of the older vintages are no longer available on the market and this was a great opportunity to try bottles money can simply no longer buy. It's definitely worth keeping an eye on Roberson's 2011 tasting calendar.
Domaine Armand Rousseau, Gevrey-Chambertin 2005
A lovely Pinot Noir expression, beautiful red cherry fruit aromas. The palate is still very tight but has elegance and finesse with vibrant red cherry fruit characters, amazing depth and length. Great potential but still very young.
Domaine Armand Rousseau, Clos Saint-Jacques, Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru 2000
Nice development and perfumed nose, a combination of floral and raspberry notes with hint of farmyard. The palate is complex and has depth, with delicate fruit characters. Great depth and length, and still very young.
Domaine Armand Rousseau, Ruchottes-Chambertin 1989
Lovely development, good Pinot Noir expression with some wild raspberry bouquet and hint of truffle. The palate is still very young, rich and complex with a direct acidity, lovely oak definition on the finish.
Domaine Armand Rousseau, Clos de la Roche 1992
Eighteen years on and this wine is still very much alive. It's showing developed fruit, as you'd expect, with notes of sour cherry and a smoky hint. Still very bright with fresh acidity in the palate. Maybe a touch alcoholic on the finish.
Domaine Armand Rousseau, Mazis-Chambertin 1990
This was the star of the night. Developed strawberry fruit bouquet with some leathery hint; the palate is still very harmonious, with a beautiful structure and fresh acidity, tannins are still juicy. Long length.
Domaine Armand Rousseau, Lavaux Saint-Jacques, Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru 2007
The wine is fresh and elegant with beautiful raspberry scented aromas. Very pretty and delicate style with an amazing length.
Domaine Armand Rousseau, Cazetiers, Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru 2004
Very developed colour and on the nose too, aromas of beetroot with some herbaceous and earthy notes. On the palate, the tannins are still very much present but the fruit is drying out and the leafy characters are taking over. The one disappointment from the line-up.
Domaine Armand Rousseau, Charmes-Chambertin 1992
Showing development on the nose with notes of sour cherry and leafy notes. For an 18-year-old wine, it has an amazing freshness and the fruit is still very much present; a very elegant wine.
Domaine Armand Rousseau, Chambertin-Clos de Beze 2001
So young and so much to offer. The nose is rich and vibrant with luscious ripe strawberry. The palate is tight and has layers of fruit but very elegant and harmonious, with an amazing complex structure and very long finish.
Domaine Armand Rousseau, Chambertin 1989
Tertiary aromas are coming through the leathery and truffle bouquet. The wine retains fresh acidity and firm tannins, with a decent length.