To degustate at Rousseau's is a extraordinary matter, because it is a bit like a celebration. They are proud of the wine that is made here - and they are right. The most outstanding wine of their variety for years now is the Chambertin and the Chambertin und der Chambertin Clos de Bèze and the Gevrey Premier Cru and the Clos St.-Jacques is regarded to have a higher quality than the other Grand Crus. Those three wines put the others almost a bit in the shade though they are very good, too - like the fine Clos de la Roche.
Everything is harvested by hand, because you can select better than with machines. The 97 and the 98 had only little natural acidity and the 99 only a bit more. There is almost no need for chaptalisation due to the natural sugar this year. The wines are kept one year in the upper cellar, then they are moved to the lower one which is more humid. All wines were stored in Allier barrels - they are convinced that this is the finest wood not supplying the wine with too much roast aroma, so the count on medium roasted ones. The barrels are from the local tonnelliers, from St. Romain and Couchey.
We think that the 1998 is going to be a good year for Rousseau, but no superior one in which their wines should be stored for some decades to become mature in order to get the Quality of really great Burgundies.
The daughter of Charles Rousseau leading the estate guided us through the cellar together with a small group of Swiss people and we tried the 98s from the barrels.
Gevrey-Chambertin 1998 barrel sample
Shining red of cherries. Vanilla and cranberries in the nose. In the mouth red, cocked apple. Smooth tannin, gentle acidity. Fruity. Aromas of wood and some strawberries.
Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru 1998 barrel sample
Slightly darker. Red of cherries. Vanilla, slightly spicy, black and red currant in the fragrance. In the taste dark berries and blueberries, red apple in the mouth. Fine acidity, fine tannin - very well balanced. Elegant Charmes with slim and fine body.
Clos de la Roche Grand Cru 1998 barrel sample
Similar colour, likewise a whiff darker. Intense fragrance of plums and cherry, also aromas of jam. In the mouth good wood, rather soft tannins, soft acidity. red apple. In the finish a lot of oak wood. Medium strong.
Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Clos St-Jacques 1998 barrel sample
A bit darker. Spicy. Meat and bacon in the fragrance. In the mouth aromas of elderberry juice and good wood. Strong tannins. Very fine. Good acidity. Very long, in the finish plum cake.
Chambertin Clos de Bèze Grand Cru 1998 barrel sample
Dark red of cherry. In the fragrance pine needle, resin, red pepper (capsicum). In the mouth spicy, dark cherry and dark berry. Fine, strong tannin full bodied, notes of wood, prunes, cooked fruit, pleasant, not too strong acidity.
Chambertin Grand Cru 1998 barrel sample
Still darker than the Clos de Bèze. In the nose dark fruit, Cassis, blackberry and blueberry. Inthe mouth also blackberry and blueberry. Cooked fruit, notes of liquor, black currants. the wood is well integrated because of the strong fruit. Strength, duration. Perhaps not so elegant as the Clos de Bèze, but stronger and more structured. Very good frame. Even more closed than the other wines.
The classic one, though Clos de Bèze is has more oriental opulence. Which one regards to be the better one is a matter of taste. We were in favour of the Chambertin like Charle Rousseau his daughter told us herself preferring the Clos de Bèze - the Swiss were her opinion. But it isn't for sale anyway. Rousseau sells only to regular customers - the lucky Swiss count to them for several years. If you want to have the one or other bottle you had to go into a wine store where you sometimes may find one.
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