Heading south, just 10 minutes outside of Dijon, the most priceless Pinot Noir vineyards in the world sit to the right on a single hillside called the "Cote D'Or." All of the red Burgundy "Grand Cru" vineyards (or Great Growths) are found in and around a handful of hamlets, the first of which is Gevrey Chambertin. Gevrey-Chambertin has the largest area of suitable vineyard land in Burgundy, with quality sites stretching further from the hill than in other villages. Deeper and firmer than their rivals from Vosne-Romanee and Chambolle-Musigny, the best Gevrey Chambertin wines are among the richest in all the Cote d'Or.
Patrice Rion made his reputation at his family's estate, Domaine Daniel Rion, before leaving the family business to start out on his own in 2003. Patrice is best known for his deft hand in the winery, fashioning wonderfully aromatic Pinot Noirs that drink beautifully on release but have the structure to age for a decade or more. Our recent tastings of Patrice's wines from the family's estate, made in the late 1990s, showed wines of wonderful vibrancy a dozen years after bottling.
In addition to Patrice's estate-bottle production, he makes a handful of small bottlings from grapes farmed by top growers on the Cote D'Or. This wine is made from a small hillside holding of vines of greater than 50 years of age. Unusually rich for a village wine -- a testament to the quality of the low yielding old vines -- Patrice's winemaking gifts are in full blossom here.
The 2005 reds from Burgundy's top producers are some of the finest Pinot Noirs made anywhere on the planet in the last generation. The initial comparisons to 1990 were actually too cautious. These wines are more akin to the great '78s, many of which are still in full stride. Burghound publisher Allen Meadows, one of Burgundy's top wine experts, is not known for exaggeration. In his last issue, he declared: "2005 is quite simply the best top to bottom vintage that I have ever seen, period, full stop."
The 2005 Patrice Rion Gevrey-Chambertin Vieilles Vignes epitomizes everything that's special and unique about the 2005 vintage. This old-vine Gevrey-Chambertin has exceptional mouth feel, power, and gorgeous balance. Expressive aromatics of red berry perfectly integrate with more earthy, sweet herbal notes. Elegant, refined, and sophisticated, this is just a gorgeously, sweet Pinot Noir that will gain complexity with bottle age over the next 10 years.
Serve at cellar temperature (58 degrees) with grilled chicken, duck, salmon or tuna, or keep this Pinot for the end of the meal and match it with goat cheese or more pungent, creamy cow cheeses like Burgundy's epoisse.