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Burgundy 2020 En Primeur: Domaine Tortochot, Gevrey-Chambertin

Burgundy 2020 En Primeur: Domaine Tortochot, Gevrey-Chambertin

A visit to the Rue de l'Église in Gevrey-Chambertin to visit Mme Tortochot is invariably a highlight of our cask-tasting trips to Burgundy.  Historically, Tortochot was a reliable but unglamorous domaine (read our profile, below), so we are taken aback every time by how exciting the wines of today are.  They capture Chantal Tortochot's charming personality, as well as something unique about each vintage, and express both their terroirs beautifully.  The sum of these parts is a range of wines that remind us of the best of classic burgundy.

In 2020, Chantal told us, low rainfall in August produced such concentrated fruit that the 'chapeau' (the floating cap of grape skins on top of the fermenting vats) was too dry to make whole-bunch fermentation advisable.  With some wines, she also used little or even no new oak.  "We use oak to polish the tannins and in 2020 the tannins were so ripe that they did not need it".  Hence the wines are very expressive and, in their own, way, rather modern in style.  

The lieu-dit Gevrey 'Les Corvées', always good value, stood out this year for its generous fruit and supple style, despite having only 10% new oak.  Tortochot's Morey wines are always seductive, with their big, glossy fruit core, but the additional freshness of the 2020s makes the Morey-St-Denis 'Aux Charmes' 1er Cru a particularly complete red burgundy in this vintage, a wine which could be a great friend and give lots of enjoyment over the next couple of decades.  The Gevrey 'Lavaux St-Jacques' 1er Cru, adjacent to the famous Clos St-Jaques 1er Cru (considered as deserving of grand cru status) is also particularly good value in 2020, with the warm summer allowing this cool site to express itself to its full, magnificent potential.

As to the grands crus themselves, for our money, these are still among the best value expressions of the Côte de Nuits.  We have no doubt that prices will rise further in the coming years, but for now, this is top-level burgundy that you can actually afford to drink, so do take advantage of these precious allocations.

Offered en primeur, landing Autumn 2022.



Domaine Tortochot, Gevrey-Chambertin

Producer Profile

Domaine Tortochot, Gevrey-Chambertin

Neil Martin has described Tortochot as 'a name to keep an eye on' and, more recently, as 'one to put back on your list'.  Formerly this was a respected, if unexciting name in Gevrey, established in the 1800s; but since the mid-'90s, there has been an impressive evolution, brought about by Chantal Tortochot.  

Returning after a career in the US to take over the family domaine in 1996, Chantal studied oenology at Dijon University and, with the assistance of consultant Sylvain Pataille, she set about converting the 12 hectares of vines to organic viticulture, certifying the whole vineyard by 2013.  She also stopped selling her Gevrey fruit to negociant Joseph Drouhin, instead choosing to bottle her own wines. 

Chantal's knowledge of the geology of Gevrey is impressive.  On one of our visits, from the garden of her beautiful house on the edge of the village, with the slopes laid out before us, she talked us in great detail through each site and its terroir.  With vines in some of the key climats of Gevrey, including Clos de Vougeot, Mazis and Charmes-Chambertin, and Le Chambertin itself, it is a wonder that the domaine has not received more attention sooner.  

When we first tasted here around five years ago, Chantal was making tentative experiments with whole bunch fermentation; from ten per cent in the 2016 vintage, rising to around twenty-five per cent by 2019.  For winemakers of her generation, whole bunch fermentation was once a thing of the past, thought to produce wines with green aromas and harsh tannins; so her openness to change is impressive.  Embracing the return of this technique as a response to the warmer summers has kept the wines fresh and energetic.  At the same time, less and less new oak has been used in the elevage, producing wines that are very expressive of their terroir, combining the best of modern and traditional styles. 

RED 2020 2 cases Tortochot - Charmes Chambertin grand cru 75cl £650 per case of 6 Tortochot
Charmes Chambertin grand cru
2020 / 2 cases / 75cl
£650 per case of 6
Tasting NotesLots of complex, delicate and refined aromas of herbs, flowers and earth on the nose, contrasting with the palate which fans out and shows real depth. Mme Tortochot says this is a very elegant Charmes and it's hard not to agree. Excellent length on the finish. RKL
RED 2020 2 cases Tortochot - Gevrey Chambertin Lavaux St Jacques 1er cru 75cl £340 per case of 6 Tortochot
Gevrey Chambertin Lavaux St Jacques 1er cru
2020 / 2 cases / 75cl
£340 per case of 6
Tasting NotesThe Lavaux St Jacques premier cru is one of the best sites in Gevrey, sitting in a small valley (the Combe de Lavaux). Benefiting from a south-facing exposure, it is nevertheless cooler than the famous Clos St Jacques, due to cool winds which funnel down the valley. Tortochot's 0.64 ha parcel produces their finest Gevrey wines (aside from the grands crus). The 2020 has an intense nose displaying mineral and chalky aromas, some reduction (animal aromas) and an intense, assertive and austere palate, with firm but wonderfully polished tannins. Refined and will be very long-lived. RKL------"Cask sample. Elegant, classy wine with fine structure, good acid and tannin framework. Not over-sweet but all the better for that. Will age very nicely. Drink 2024 – 2034. 17.5 points" (AWH)
RED 2020 1 case Tortochot - Gevrey Chambertin Les Corvées 75cl £195 per case of 6 Tortochot
Gevrey Chambertin Les Corvées
2020 / 1 case / 75cl
£195 per case of 6
Tasting NotesLes Corvees' is an 0.86 ha lieu-dit vineyard is at the end of the 'combe' (valley) formed by the slopes of Gevrey, with 50-year-old vines. Chantal has used just 10% new oak in her village wines. Some wild, animal, reductive aromas, generous and intense red and dark fruits, supple tannins, lively acidity and minerality on the finish, so easy and enjoyable even from cask. RKL

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