Domaine du Couvent 2020 Vintage En Primeur
The Chéron and Hammel families were joint owners of Domaine des Varoilles, in Gevrey-Chambertin.
In July 2020, following the retirement of Gilbert Hammel, the majority of the Domaine des Varoilles holdings was absorbed into Philippe Chéron’s Domaine du Couvent. The wines are therefore now labelled as Domaine du Couvent.
In October 2021, we met Philippe Chéron for the first time in his cellars in the centre of Nuits-Saint-Georges. Tall and rangy in workman’s overalls, with a dry sense of humour and an obvious love of wine, we liked him immediately. He told us that his father had worked in the Varoilles vines since the 1970s, so there is clearly good knowledge of the terroirs within the familys.
THE 2020 VINTAGE AT DOMAINE DU COUVENT
We tasted Philippe’s own 2020s alongside those which he took on from Domaine des Varoilles. Taking over mid-season cannot be easy but he has remained true to the Varoilles style which we know and love. Going forward, I suspect Philippe will aim for increased elegance and will reduce the use of new oak (both positives for me).
We are offering here the legacy ex-Varoilles wines but look out for more from this producer in the months and years to come. Exciting times here.
GEVREY-CHAMBERTIN CLOS DU MEIX DES OUCHES, MONOPOLE
£295 /CASE OF 6 BOTTLES, IN BOND UK
This one hectare vineyard is a monopole, owned in its entirety by the domaine. It has similar stony soils to the adjacent 1er Cru Champonnet. This was the first of the ex-Varoilles 2020s we tasted with Philippe Chéron, who described it as “a joyous site and wine”, reassuringly close to my own thoughts! Juicy raspberries, with a touch of spice and a bright, vivacious lift of freshness. 10% new oak.
Corney & Barrow Score 17+
Recommended drinking from 2023–2028
GEVREY-CHAMBERTIN 1ER CRU CHAMPONNET
£345 /CASE OF 6 BOTTLES, IN BOND UK
This 0.7 hectare holding is even stonier than neighbouring Clos du Meix des Ouches. New owner Philippe Chéron suggested we taste its two constituent parcels separately. This revealed two intriguingly diverse personalities – the first dark-berried and spicy, with black pepper and a Côte Rôtie-like blood-orange zestiness, the second purer, more lifted and raspberry-flavoured. The blend reconciles these two – the serious and the light-hearted – into a winningly complete whole. 15% new oak.
Corney & Barrow Score 17.5
Recommended drinking from 2024–2030
GEVREY-CHAMBERTIN 1ER CRU LA ROMANÉE MONOPOLE
£395 /CASE OF 6 BOTTLES, IN BOND UK
Gevrey-Chambertin’s La Romanée is a premier cru high on the slope, beside a side-valley or combe, which delivers cooling breezes. The domaine has one hectare of vines here, with an average age of over 60 years. Very shallow soils (just 50cm) lie over a gravel and limestone bedrock, making for a naturally low-yielding site. This wine’s twin characters of elegance and dark, spicy fruit are clearly on display in 2020. The intensity and power of the vintage suit it perfectly, drawing out a creamy generosity and a sublime fruit-coating to the tannins. 20% new oak.
Corney & Barrow Score 18
Recommended drinking from 2025–2035
CHARMES-CHAMBERTIN GRAND CRU AUX MAZOYERES
£750 /CASE OF 6 BOTTLES, IN BOND UK
The domaine has a single, gently sloping 0.8 hectare parcel here. This is the part of the grand cru, beneath Latricières-Chambertin, which may be labelled Charmes- or Mazoyères-Chambertin. As such it has the typical dark minerality of Mazoyères, bitter chocolate and chalk, whilst displaying a gratifyingly Charmes-like violet-hued delicacy and a lush fruit-coating to the fine, firm tannins. Beautiful wine in 2020. 50% new oak, from the Rousseau cooperage.
Corney & Barrow Score 18 – 18.5
Recommended drinking from 2029–2039
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