Terroir CreationThe relief of the Côte in Gevrey-Chambertin as we know it today is mainly the result of three events occurring at a geological timescale.
This long history, which began several hundred million years ago, involves conditions apparently far-removed from those of present times
The Formation of the RocksDuring the Jurassic, between two hundred and one hundred and thirty-five million years ago, Gevrey-Chambertin was located in the intertropical zone, with a warm climate. A shallow sea spread as far as the eye could see, leading to the deposit of shale and limestone sediments that piled up in horizontal layers several hundred meters thick. These marine sediments became solid and today form the subsoil under most of the vineyard.
Rock formation occurred during the Jurassic period.
The Formation of the Relief of the Côte
Thirty million years ago, the future Gevrey-Chambertin area was still in a tropical climatic context, but the lands had emerged, and a stretching of the continental crust generated a stairway of breaks in the Jurassic rocks. These fractured shale and limestone layers extend in long strips from Dijon to Nuits St Georges, sinking stepwise to the east. The Saône valley rift appeared and the hillside relief started to form. The exposure, the altitude and the slopes of the Côte were determined at that period.
The Final Adjustments
Burgundy was exposed, twenty thousand years ago, to a period of periglacial climate, like that of Siberia today.
At that time, only a thin layer of the continuously frozen subsoil thawed during summer, which prevented the meltwater from penetrating deeper. Meltwater therefore ran off at the surface, generating rivers that cut valleys perpendicular to the Côte. The Combe Lavaux, which is now a dry valley, sculpted the hillside vineyards. Multi-sized materials (blocks, pebbles, sand, shale) plucked out of the limestone plateaus accumulated at the outlet to the Combe. These alluvial fans rich in pebbles form a yielding, well-drained substratum, excellent for vine cultivation.
The landscape is characterised by a hillside relief. Its altitude, slope, exposure, and the nature of the soil and subsoil were established two thousand years ago when the first vines were cultivated in Gevrey-Chambertin.
The Combe de Lavaux, framed by Comblanchien limestone cliffs, opening on to the Gevrey-Chambertin vineyard.
The pebbly alluvial fan deposits at the outlet of the Combe Lavaux.
Even if each lieu-dit expresses its identity with subtle nuances of soil, subsoil, slope, altitude and exposure, it is nevertheless possible to distinguish four main parts in the terroir of Gevrey-Chambertin.
The hillside between the villages of Brochon and Gevrey
Les Cazetiers, Combe au moine, Champeaux...
The substratum at the north of the appellation is dominated by crinoidal limestone, which is very present on the upper part of the hillside, with soils extremely rich in ochre-coloured stones. At the mid-part, a strip of marl that extends from the south of the village of Couchey to the north of the village of
Gevrey-Chambertin gives very shaly, "heavier” soils. The subsoil of the cereal plain is made up of Bresse marl.The maximum altitude of this area is rather high, about
1247 feet (i.e. 380 metres), with steep slopes that exceed ten percent at the hilltop. The Premier Crus are abundant here, mainly lying over crinoidal limestone. This hillside has been
largely shaped by the needs of people who extracted stone to build houses in the villages.
Soil over crinoidal limestone
The hillsides of the Combe Lavaux
Clos Saint-Jacques, Lavaut, Etournelles, Les Verroilles...
Framed by white cliffs of Comblanchien limestone, the Combe Lavaux, a broad, deep slash across the hillside, is geologically a very complex area. A series of separate compartments are formed by the many geological faults. The Prémeaux limestone mid-slope and the crinoidal limestone on the upper part of the hillside are well represented on the north flank, with thin soils rich in stones (Clos Saint-Jacques, Etournelles). The bottom of the valley is made up of silt, shale and pebbles of the alluvial fans.
The effect of the valley on the climate is clearly perceived. The southern exposure of the plots on the northern slope is very favourable for grape ripening. Air circulation preferentially guided by the valley axis has a clear effect on the development of the vines.
Prémeaux limestone wall
The alluvial fan at the outlet of the Combe Lavaux
Les Crais, La Justice...
The hollowing out of the Combe Lavaux, a very broad valley, generated the deposit of a huge quantity of alluvium. At the outlet of the valley, the sediments spread out widely, even beyond the D 974 road. It is the nature of the subsoil that explains the unusual extension of the vineyard of Gevrey-Chambertin to the east of the road between Dijon and Beaune. The alluvium, a mixture of pebbles and fine-grained sediments (silt and shale) is easily drained, providing an excellent substratum for vine cultivation.The alluvial fans are located at the lower part of the
hillside, in areas of gentle slope (less than 2%), at altitudes from
853 to 919 feet (i.e. 260 to 280 metres).
Alluvial fan + vineyard soil
The Hillside of Grand Crus
Mazis-Chambertin, Chambertin, Chambertin-Clos de Béze, Chapelle-Chambertin, Griotte-Chambertin, Ruchottes-Chambertin, Charmes-Chambertin, Mazoyères-Chambertin, Latricières-Chambertin.
To the south of the Combe Lavaux, the Grand Cru hillside unfolds its prestigious crus over a substratum visibly dominated by limestone. Prémeaux limestone clearly marks the upper part of the hillside vineyard, with very thin soils, rich in light-coloured stones. Crinoidal limestone, so present on the northern hillside of the appellation, is here only a narrow strip on each side of the Route des Grands Crus. Comblanchien limestone at the bottom of the hill, extending to the D 974 road, explains the great number of light-coloured stones in the soil.
The altitude of this hillside vineyard is lower than at the north of the Combe Lavaux (330 metres at the top of Bel-Air). The slope varies from 2 to 10 percent, and is gentler than along the northern hillside.
alluvial fan gravel
The Grand Cru hillside
Comblanchien Limestone + vineyard soil
Les cailloutis du cône alluvial déposé au débouché de la Combe Lavaux
Carte géologique de Gevrey-Chambertin
The Imprint of Terroir
The Pinot Noir grape is exceptionally well adapted to the diversity and quality of great terroir and has thus contributed to the seniority and notoriety of the wines of the appellation Gevrey-Chambertin.
Each Gevrey possesses some of the characteristics of its place of origin. The subtle nuances of slope, altitude, exposure, soils and subsoil harmonise with minute climatic variations, and express themselves successfully in each of the crus, wrought by each vintage, and revealed by the winegrower.
The Grand CrusThe nine Grand Crus appear one after the other along the southern hillside of the appellation Gevrey-Chambertin. The very light-coloured Prémeaux and Comblanchien limestones and the ochre tones of crinoidal limestone dominate the subsoils of the Grand Crus. The soil is very rich in stones, even downslope.
The wines are deep and intense in colour, in the darkest tones of ruby, with purplish shadows. The extreme variety of aromas is richly revealed, exploring the range of red fruits, liquorice, spices, flowers and undergrowth. The palate, powerful, opulent and elegant, opens up completely to a full, voluptuous consistency, of great complexity.
Patience is necessary with these wines which will unveil their best secrets after many years.
The Premier Crus
The Premier Crus are in different locations: on the northern hillside between the villages of Brochon and Gevrey-Chambertin, at the outlet of the Combe Lavaux, and just to the south of the village of Gevrey-Chambertin, side by side with the Grand Crus. Exposure, altitude and slope vary from one Premier Cru to another. The nature of the subsoil also varies. Crinoidal limestone is predominant (e.g. Champeaux, Clos Prieur, and most of Les Cazetiers), but the
Premier Crus can also be found on other substrata: Prémeaux Limestone (Fonteny, part of Lavaut-Saint-Jacques), Comblanchien limestone (Petite Chapelle), alluvial fan deposits (part of Les Corbeaux).
The beautiful ruby colour acquires a darker hue as it ages. The nose opens on a bouquet of fruits (strawberry and blackberry), flowers (rose, violet and reseda) with richer notes of liquorice, leather and undergrowth over time. The palate is full and powerful, highly structured, the tannins are velvety. Born to last, the Gevrey-
Chambertin Premier Crus can be appreciated for their fruit in their
youth and for their ability to age as time goes by.
The appellation Gevrey-Chambertin Village extends over two main sectors.
To the north of the village of Gevrey, crinoidal limestone is predominant in the upper part of the hillside vineyards (Les Evocelles).
Sandy marl dated from the Lias (Lower Jurassic) frames the Route des Grands Crus (part of En Champs, Jeunes Rois, and En Vosne).
To the east of the village of Gevrey-Chambertin, the huge alluvial fan
at the outlet of the Combe Lavaux is the substratum of many lieux-dits (Les Crais, La Justice, La Brunelle, and Aux Corvées). At the east of the Grand Cru hillside, the Gevrey-Chambertin Villages appellation lies either over alluvial fan deposits or over Comblanchien limestone (Les Epointures and Champs Chenys).
The wines from these lieux-dits all have their own personality, but a common structure links them to the Gevrey-Chambertin appellation.
The colour is a beautiful deep red. Fruit and floral notes dominate the nose which acquires fur, leather, wild game and undergrowth notes over time. On the palate, Pinot Noir expresses in Gevrey-Chambertin Village all its complexity, with substance and consistency, a fully present structure and rounded tannins. This wine will be appreciated as much in its youth as after some years of ageing.
Etudes et cartes :
Valérie Huguenot Office de tourisme du canton de Gevrey-Chambertin