I have always been fascinated with vineyards next to, almost part, or otherwise related to the ‘expensive and famous’.
One commune with a wealth of riches is the iconic ‘Chambertin’, or properly Gevrey Chambertin. I felt at one time the power families of this area appropriated vineyards next door for their own benefit, but when you look at the lack of recognition of other communes even in the Cote d’Or,
I think it was more motivated by a desire to promote the excellent wines of Burgundy. One look at an old photograph of famous Nuits producers manning stands at Fairs and Expositions to show their wines, as late as the 1930’s, lends credibility.
There was no market for ‘Fixin’ or ‘Morey’.
When I went on my long sojourn to understand the personalities of these divisions, I found more than a few jagged edges. Chambolle, for example, seems easier to predict if you deal with it two different ways. The ‘North of Village’ vineyards are an extension of the firmer [Bonnes Mares-Clos de Tart] expression. The ‘South of Village/creek’ vineyards cresting the hill above Vougeot as a delicate, floral,[Musigny-Amoureuses] bright fruit statement.
This pales in comparison to the most glaring omission in the Nuits map, The space between Fixin and Gevrey.
This ‘no mans land’ is only labelled ‘Cote de Nuits Villages’, lumped with other pockets further south. Upon my first visit in 1976, I expected to see scruffy vines planted on sparse soil… with one old estate in the middle of fields. The opposite appeared to appear. There was certainly a chateau behind a high walled fortification, an impressive late 19th century building [Crebillon] named after the tragic poet Joylot. Currently this is a school. There are no vines remaining inside the walls, [unlike the old Camille Rodier maps] instead very high quality mature vineyards approach the walls both north and south.
Fertile ground! A small road [D31] between the vines to the south will lead into the hills, where the core of my new discovery, the lost commune of Brochon lies. This cleft is two great hills, the north one crowned by the famous ‘Saint Jacques’ and the southern one rolls into the more famous ‘Chambertin’ vineyards. Today Clos St. Jacques is no secret, noted as an uncrowned Grand cru of Gevrey. In the 1970’s, it was less renowned , as was its major winery, Armand Rousseau. It was at Rousseau, during a tasting in May of 1976, where the rebel notions of a different treasure map began to ferment.
Charles Rousseau pointedly conducted his tastings by tasting Clos St. Jacques above all the other Grands crus in his lineup, except for Chambertin and Clos de Beze. Inferring superior quality. OR, is it different quality.
My divisions in the hills is not just to be clever, but due to very distinctive signatures. In this cellar, Clos St. Jacques is related to Cazetiers, not Charmes Chambertin. Ruchottes, the closest proximity, is assuredly part of Chambertin style, not St. Jacques. The hump that visually separates them is a deeper division than the map would tell you.
Liberated from the Gevrey conscript, St. Jacques family [to include Cazetiers, Etournelles, Lavaut, Combe aux Moines, etc.] shine on their own. Follow the road down [clos du Chapitre = Brochon, Craipillot = Gevrey] and cut off above the D974. The vines North of the Chateau [La Croix Violette, Preau, etc.] are reliable producers.
I have read where some would not elevate CSJ to Grand cru because it lacks the power and presence of Chambertin/Clode Beze… but by this standard, the other Grands Crus such as Charmes, Ruchottes, Latricieres, Mazis, …would also fail this test.
Appreciate the distinctive Brochon. Another prime example is seen in the Bachelet cellar, the ‘I am not a Cote de Nuits villages’…a different statement from his Gevrey Combettes. Further research finds this vineyard part of Queue de Hareng, a southerly arm of the highly regarded premier cru, Fixin, Clos de Perrieres. This upper vineyard land is not inferior, it should be part of the upgrade, at least a commune level. There is a raciness that is distinct from the weight of Gevrey Chambertin or the aggressiveness of Fixin.
Here is to ‘Brochon- St. Jacques’ the lost Grand cru of the Nuits. Bob