“For fifteen years the Emperor [Napoleon] constantly drank the same wine [Gevrey-Chambertin] , which he liked and which we believed was good for him."
Mémorial de Sainte-Hélène by The Count of Las Cases
Gevrey-Chambertin is the largest wine-producing village in the entire Côte d’Or with the wines typically deeper in colour, with more tannin structure and firmer in body than most red Burgundy. Thanks to the iron-rich clay soils the very best can develop into the richest, biggest and long-lived Pinot Noir - this of course depends on whether the vineyard is located on the steeper slopes or the flatter, richer soils.
Gevrey boasts an impressive nine Grands Crus, with the name of Chambertin retaining a regal omnipresence throughout its finest vineyard names. Chambertin-Clos de Bèze which has the right to sell its wines simply as ‘Chambertin’, and is also the only wine allowed to put the ‘Chambertin’ before (rather than after its own), is considered one of the greats. Quality-wise the next best is generally acknowledged to be Mazis-Chambertin with incredibly concentrated and fine wines, but a little less firm than Le Chambertin. The tiny Griottes-Chambertin, which owes its name to the grill-pan shape of the vineyard rather than the wine’s griotte (sour) cherry aroma, is lower down the slope and boasts a velvety texture and rich fruit reminiscent of Chambertin itself. Gevrey’s largest Grand Cru, Charmes-Chambertin is pure and seductive.
The wines of Gevrey-Chambertin are deeply colored. They have intense aromas of currants and other small red and black fruits, animal notes of musk and fur, and often a touch of licorice after some bottle aging. They are powerful, with balanced tannins, a soft mouthfeel and good acidity. These are generally robust wines.
While the Magnien family has been operating in Burgundy since the mid-1600s, Domaine Henri Magnien et Fils was established in 1987 by Henri for himself, his son François and his grandson Charles. After working side-by-side with his father, Charles took the reins in 2009 and is now considered to be in the vanguard of the young, energetic winemakers in the Gevrey-Chambertin and the Côte de Nuits.
Domaine Henri Magnien is a small family-owned and run estate of a mere six hectares of vineyard holdings. What they lack in hectarage they make up for in undoubted Gevrey-Chambertin quality. The Magnien family’s inexorable march to organic viticulture has been going for years with around 80% already complete. Charles, considered to be one of Burgundy’s rising stars, employs Selection Massale, or Massal Selection, to plant his more recent vineyards with cutting selections made from 70 to 100-year-old vines. These clonal selections are known as Pinot Magnien (the family has been around for a while) and are widely considered to be the best in the appellation. They are much sought-after and used by the likes of Jérôme Galeyrand.
The Domaine also has many of the very best vineyards, including Lavaux Saint-Jacques, Les Cazetiers and Ruchottes-Chambertin.