One of the top wines from the Richebourg vineyard is produced by Domaine Méo-Camuzet, a longtime owner on Richebourg but a relatively “new” producer by Burgundy standards.
A wine with a special history, a wine worthy of a Terroir Insight … so let go to Richebourg.
The Méo-Camuzet plots on Richeborg
The Méo-Camuzet Richebourg is made from two plots, one in the Les Richebourg part of the vineyard, and one larger plot in the Les Verroilles ou Richebourg. In total Méo-Camuzet own 0.3523 ha on Richebourg located in the top part of the vineyard next to the Cros Parantoux vineyard – see map below.
One plot – 0.0462 ha – is located just below the Jayer/Emmanuel Rouget part of Cros Parantoux in the climate Les Richebourg – the southern part of the Richebourg vineyard. The other and larger plot – 0.3061 ha – is located just north of Cros Parantoux in the climate Les Verroilles ou Richebourg – see map below.
The early history of the Méo Richebourg plots
The main part of the Méo-Camuzet Richebourg is located in the climate Verroilles ou Richeborg. According to Lavalle1 – Frantin was the only owner on Verroilles ou Richebourg in 1855. The Frantin estate was founded by Antione Vincent Legrand (Maréchal de camp de Napoléon 1er) mainly with vineyards bought as “bien nationaux” after the revolution.
The next generation was his daughter Louise Legrand and her husband Jean-Edme Frantin – therefore the estate name Clos Frantin. Jean-Edme Frantin died in 1863, and after this some of the vineyards were sold of – but it’s somewhat unclear when this happened. The Chanut family bought the Frantin estate in Vosne-Romanee in 1863, but only the village vineyard Clos Frantin is mentioned as a part of this deal. There is no trace of Les Verroilles ou Richebourg in the estate after Philibert Eugene Chanut who died in 1885.
According to Rodier3 – Camuzet was a owner on Verroilles in 1920 and he was also mentioned as a owner by Danguy and Aubertin2 in 1892. The Domaine Camuzet was however founded in the beginning of the twentieth century, so it appears that Etienne Camuzet owned these vineyards before the domaine itself was established. The small plot in Les Ricebourg was not mentioned by Rodier (1920) or Danguy and Aubertin (1892).
It’s unclear when Etienne Camuzet acquired the holdings in Richebourg, and from whom – but the neighboring plots of Domaine Gros was acquired by the Gros family in 1882 – so it is likely that Etienne Camuzet bought his plots around this time – but the only firm source is Danguy and Aubertin2, that confirmed Camuzet as a owner in 1892.
The Henri Jayer era on Richebourg
In 1945 Etienne Camuzet decided to leave the vineyard management of most of the vineyards to a young vigneron from Vosne-Romanee … Henri Jayer .. who took over the vineyards on a matayage agreement 4.
Etienne Camuzet passed away in 1946 leaving the estate to his daughter Maria Noirot. Maria Noirot had no direct heirs, and when she passed away in 1959, the estate was bequeathed to Jean Méo, who was the working in the staff of General de Gaulle4.
According to the Meo-Camuzet website “Maria Noirot et Jean Méo were distant relatives but the two families had close ties and Maria’s will stated that “all should carry on”, which of course has been respected. At that period, vintners under ‘métayage’, a sort of sharecropping agreement, were in charge of the vineyards and winemaking. Jean Méo sold his portion of wines to famous local merchants. This agreement enabled him to pursue his Parisian career while keeping an eye on his Burgundian estate”4.
The metayage agreement between Henri Jayer and the Noirot/Meo-Camuzet family was prolonged several times, until it finally ended in 1987 – where the last vineyards were returned to Domaine Meo-Camuzet – including the plots on Richebourg.
The Méo-Camuzet era on Richebourg
The first commercial vintage of Domaine Méo-Camuzet Richebourg was 1985, but small amounts of Domaine Camuzet wines were bottled prior to 1985 – during the period where the vineyards were managed by Henri Jayer and other vignerons.
These bottles had a different label than the one we know today. The Domaine name on the label was Domaine Camuzet, and the name Jean Méo was mentioned as proprietaire – see label below (label from a 1972 Richebourg).
These Domaine Camuzet wines are very rare indeed, and was produced by the metayage vignerons, and Jean Méo, presumably, sold most of his share off to merchands 4, and bottled some mainly for private use – with the Domaine Camuzet label shown above.
Regarding Richebourg the wines were produced by Henri Jayer and until the 1984 vintage most of the production was bottled and sold as Jayer wine. The last vintage of Henri Jayer Richebourg was 1987 as the metayage deal with Méo-Camuzet was terminated at that point.
In the vintages 1985 and 1986 a part of the production on Richebourg was sold under the Méo-Camuzet label, so apparently the Jayer production in these vintages was down to one cask of Richebourg. Henri Jayer stayed on as a consultant for Méo-Camuzet in the following years … but his influence seems to have faded in the early 1990s.
Domaine Méo-Camuzet Richebourg – The Wine
As mentioned above Henri Jayer made the first vintages of Domaine Méo-Camuzet Richebourg .. i.e. the vintages 1985 to 1988. Jean-Nicolas Méo arrived at the Domaine in 1989, and took charge of the wine making from then on. He worked with Jayer as a consultant over the next decade.
As far as I know the Méo-Camuzet wines were filtered in the first years (1985 and 1986), so the wines were not quite as good as the non filtered Jayer wines, but these wines are nevertheless made by Jayer. I have never tasted a Richebourg from these vintages, but I have tasted some of the lesser wines from 1988, and they resemble the style of both Jayer and Emmanuel Rouget.
Moving forward Jean-Nicolas Méo took over the wine making, and Jayer’s influence seem to have faded a bit over the years. In my view Jean-Nicolas Méo have changed the style over the years, first towards darker and more dense wines in the mid/late 1990s, but then back to more transparent and terroir driven wines from the 2007 vintage and forward.
The Richebourg does however seem to be the wine least affected by these changes, as it seem to have kept it´s refined and quite delicate expression of the Richebourg terroir that reflects the position of the main plot.
In my view the Richebourg of Domaine Méo-Camuzet is a perfect example of the qualities of Les Verroilles ou Richebourg .. offering a more floral and lightfooted expression of Richebourg .. especially compared to the Richebourgs made on the middle and southern part of Les Richebourg.
It’s a big wine by normal Burgundy standards .. but not compared to the big and weighty Richebourgs produced on the bottom part of Les Richebourg.
Is it still influenced by Jayer? … hard to say really … I would rather say that Jean-Nicolas Méo have found his own style over the years, and after some years with darker and more dense wines, he has found a fine equilibrium in this wines after 2006, and I must say that I have really enjoyed the recent vintages.
References & Sources:
- Jules Lavalle, Histoire et Statistique de la Vignes et Des Grands Vins de la Côte d’Or (1855)
- M.R. Danguy et M. Ch. Aubertin, Les Grands Vins de Bourgogne (1892)
- Camille Rodier, Le Vin de Bourgogne (1920)
- Méo-Camuzet website
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