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The Domaine was started at the beginning of the 20th century by Armand Rousseau, who came from a family of vignerons and wine-merchants. He inherited, through marriage, several plots of vineyards in Gevrey Chambertin in the Côte de Nuits at the turn of the century. Gradually, he increased the size of the Domaine with acquisitions of vineyards in Charmes Chambertin in 1919, Clos de la Roche and Chambertin in 1920 and 1921, Mazy-Chambertin in 1937, Mazoyeres-Chambertin in 1940 and the esteemed 1er Cru Clos Saint Jacques in 1954. Following Armand’s tragic death in a car crash in 1959, his son, Charles Rousseau, who had studied law and then oenology at Dijon University, assumed control. Charles Rousseau instigated many improvements and investments, such as building two new cellars to increase storage capacity. Charles’s son Eric, and daughter Corinne, have subsequently become involved at the Domaine and are responsible for producing some of the finest expressions of Pinot Noir coming out of Burgundy’s world-famous Côte de Nuits.
The Domaine currently owns approximately 14 hectares of vineyards planted only with Pinot Noir, including 8 hectares of Grand Cru vineyards all situated in the communes of Gevrey-Chambertin and Morey-Saint-Denis producing their world famous Grand Crus; Chambertin Clos de Bèze, Chambertin, Mazy-Chambertin, Charmes-Chambertin, and Clos de la Roche; and their Premier Crus; Clos Saint Jacques, Les Cazétiers and Lavaux Saint-Jacques. The vines are old with an average age of between 40 and 45 years and a planting density of 11,000 vines per hectare. Yields are kept low, at between 30 to 40 hectolitres per hectare, with bud removal and green harvesting. No chemical fertilizers are used and harvesting is done completely by hand.
Vinification is traditionally Burgundian with 90% destemming, and fermentation for an average of 18 days in open-topped stainless steel vats with regular pumping over and pigeage. Fermentation temperature is controlled and does not exceed 33 degrees. Following alcoholic fermentation the wines are pressed in a pneumatic press, left to settle for 24 hours, and then transferred into oak barrels for the malolactic fermentation to take place naturally. The Chambertin and the Chambertin Clos de Bèze are aged in 100 % new oak with medium toast. The Clos Saint Jacques is put into between 70% and 100% new oak and the other wines are aged in either second or third-fill barrels. Ageing takes approximately 20 to 22 months and the wines are racked between 2 and 3 times. The wines are lightly filtered prior to bottling to retain as many flavour components as possible.
There is no disputing the quality of their wines. Anthony Hanson, writing in his book Burgundy, stated that Armand Rousseau "is one of Burgundy’s great, traditional domains" and the wines are "harmonious, elegant, rich and individual". Neil Marten stated that "Some of the greatest wines I have ever tasted have born Rousseau's name, in particular outstanding Chambertin and Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Clos Saint Jacques, the premier cru that merits promotion to Grand Cru more than any other. I also adore the Chambertin Clos de Bèze; the 1989 leaving a room full of tasters grasping for superlatives when tasted in 2003".
Domaine Armand Rousseau Masterclass, 3 June 2010
Christie’s London Wine Department is offering an exceptional masterclass focusing on the greatest wines of the legendary Domaine Armand Rousseau, looking back to the 1983 vintage. The tutored tasting will be conducted by world-renowned Burgundy expert Anthony Hanson M.W. Click here for more information or to reserve a place for this memorable event.