The premiere cru vineyards of "les Cras" lie on the slopes overlooking the village of Chambolle Musigny, just off the Route des Grands Cru's. Its northernmost end leads into "les Fuees" which itself leads into the Grand Cru vineyards of Bonnes Mares. This bottling from the well regarded domaine of Georges Roumier was produced by son Christophe who has been in charge since the mid eighties. Christophe is passionate about the terrior of Burgundy and is often cited as believing that the terrior of Burgundy expresses itself through the medium of the noble grape Pinot Noir. Eschewing chemical management of weeds, he prefers where possible to plough the vines, an act that is said to force the vines to send the roots deeper into the subsoil where it is best able to extract the essense of terrior of Burgundy. The vines are pruned vigourously, controlling the number of buds and therefore eliminating the need for a vendage vert (green harvest) later in the season. The result is a very low yield of usually high quality fruit. The fruit undergoes at least two triages to sort out the best fruit, and sometimes the fruit will be destemmed if Christophe feels it is necessary. Most of the grapes will then be transfered into big open topped wooden fermenting vats for the slow process of fermentation. The berries undergo a lengthy maceration drawing the maximum of flavour and character from the fruit. The temperature of the ferments is maintained at less than 30degrees C, any higher tends to lose the more delicate aromas and adds a stewed character to the wine.
Once the ferment is over the wines are racked into old french oak pieces for anything upto 18 months. The wines are usually bottles unfiltered and rarely fined, although if the wines do require fining the domaine prefers a single egg white per cask.
Ive always found Roumier's wines to be very expressive, they tend to have a earthy start to the aromas before the layers of aromas start to be revealed. The Chambolle came out with an aroma that best reminded me of the African Violets that my granny used to keep on her windowsill. The dominant character being the wet earth until the scent of the violets seemed to punch through and take over. There was fruit there too, soft red fruits - alpine strawberries and a touch of raspberries with an edge of anise or cocao nibs. On the palate it was very elegant with soft supple tannins, the red fruit flavours starting at the fore before a slightly spicier finish. It kind of reminded me of toasted Cloutie dumpling - a touch of raisin, some cinnamon, nutmeg and a dash of allspice. The length was pretty impresive, with the spicy notes being the finishing touch to the flavours. All in all a damned good wine, from one of the leading producers in the region.
As a side note, I got an email recently from one of the brokers that we deal with listing a selection of Roumier wines, particularly the Bonnes Mares. I couldnt believe the prices that were being asked for it, particularly as we have quite a bit of it downstairs. When I compared what we paid, with what it is selling for now, I thank my lucky stars that Phil was such an astute buyer. Problem is now, that I dont know whether I will sell it in the restaurant, or end up brokering it off and re-investing in new wines. The second option would be the more profitable of the two, but I kind of feel that I want to reward someone who takes the time and effort to read the list looking for a bargain. Because let me say, those wines are the deal of the century.