Volnay, 1er Cru Chevret

Terroir

I call this my ‘little goat’ as the name may derive from a field where goats were kept. There is reddish clay over a bedrock of Oxfordian and Argovian limestone…it’s more crumbly.  Chevret lies beneath the slope of Les Cailllerets on a gentle incline at 200-250m, beside En Caillerets. The upper section has plenty of small stones and a thinner top soil, more like the soil in Caillerets. The lower, flatter part has a deeper top soil, red clay over a band of mother rock. The clay gives the sweetness and roundness. It contains the washed down lighter debris from the steep slope above, so it’s not heavy. My grapes are from a massale selection of 40 year old vines in the lower part of Chevret giving me the opportunity of making two neighbouring premier cru. The stony Santenots, despite kid gloves, is reserved, while my Chevret is softer and more forthcoming. So close and so far. So Burgundian.

Domaine

The enterprising and indefatigable Nico Rossignol is the 5th generation of the Rossignol-Jeanniard branch of the Volnay Rossignols. He established his own domaine in 1997 with 3 hectares. This has grown to over 17 hectares in the Côte de Beaune focusing on red wine.

Nico is someone who generously shares his knowledge and experience, not just with me, but with many. He identifies and embraces the positives of changing character of Burgundy and punchily bridges the ground between the ‘tradition’ and the ‘new.’ Hence his fab, functional and finely designed winery complements the traditional and painstaking work in the vineyard.

There is no better place to taste Volnay and Pommard from a range of premier cru than this cellar. Nico also has a cult following for his Bourgogne, Cuvée Héretière, made from very old vines and staying regional, this ‘red’ domaine has a delicious Bourgogne, Aligoté.

Most of the 6.35 hectares of En Chevret belongs to the extended Rossignol family. Nico corrals the family fruit into his cellar and so Chevret is largely seen under his label, giving this most satisfying and harmonious of Volnay, an almost one shot exposure. Hence it is not as famous as neighbouring Caillerets and Santenots. Now I have an exciting opportunity to communicate the personality of this vineyard.

In the Winery

Chevret is 100% de-stemmed. There were about 1000kg of fruit and I made it in a larger tank than the Santenots. I kept the cap wet for the first few days, just with buckets of juice taken from the low tap. After about 6 days I ‘woke it up’ with a pigeage to get the fermentation started and hopped in the tank three days later when temperature reached 25 degrees. After this it had either a gentle pigeage or remontage every day for a week with a final rack and return to finish off the sugar. I left it for 3 days to let the tannins condense and then pressed. It is now ageing in one and two year old Cavin barriques.

Style and When to Drink 

While limestone encourages a straight wine, Chevret has some clay, which brings charm and sweetness to the palate. The style is a flattering blend of Caillerets and Santenots. You cannot help liking Chevret. It has a plump allure. It brings together the body and generosity of Santenots with a nod to the textural finesses of Caillerets, but with texture of soft satin rather than fine silk. It can show a touch of minerality and a light fragrance on the finish, depending on the vintage. It is beguiling.

Given the soft texture, supple tannins and succulent fruit, it quite forward and you can start drinking this in 4 years for a lighter vintage to enjoy the fruit, but leave bigger vintages for 6 to 8 years. And if you like wines with more complexity there is plenty of capacity to mature further for tertiary characters.

Vintages Made

2018 vintage. The hot 2018 summer has given Chevret a full, rich and seductive palate with plentiful, sweet and smooth tannins. It’s undoubtedly ripe, but with nicely balanced freshness.  It needs time to mature and will remain in barrel until early 2020. 2018 is a vintage with a great deal of substance. One to put away in the cellar to realise the true potential.  Sign up below to receive the early release offer in November 2019. It will not be shipped until mid 2020.

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