Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Christophe Roumier of Domaine Georges Roumier

The Jean-Marc Roulot play was the opening salvo in a double-header of elevated -- and elevating -- experiences that were visited on La Paulée participants who attended the Daniel event on Thursday afternoon. The main event was scheduled to be a multi-course lunch, prepared by Daniel Boulud and his team, accompanied by selected wines from Domaines Guy Roulot and Georges Roumier, said wines to be presented by the respective vigneron. Readers of this blog are familiar with Jean-Marc Roulot and his domaine but have never been exposed to Christophe Roumier herein. In that I believe that context aids in appreciation/understanding of a wine, this post sheds some light on the vigneron and his domaine.

Christophe and his wines are widely acclaimed. Writing on his blog (Roumier, www.clive-coates.com), Clive Coates states thusly: "For Chambolles with a difference, wines which are substantial, even sturdy, as well as elegant and velvety, the best source is ... the Domaine Georges Roumier. This is one of the longest estate bottling domaines in the Côte D'Or. And one of the very best of all." Jonathon Nossiter (Liquid Memory) described Roumier as "one of the poster children of the new generation of Burgundian vignerons ... who not only make biodynamic, organic, or chemical-free wines from the greatest terroirs in Burgundy ... but have outstripped the parents in quality, sophistication, and renown and yet they have all maintained their peasant rootedness and commitment to an ever more precise expression of terroir."

Christophe Roumier and Ron at La Paulée
(Photo courtesy Ron Siegel)

The domaine was founded in 1924 by Georges Roumier and was one of the early adopters of the practice of in-house bottling. Georges began to transition the estate to his son Jean-Marie in the 1950s but did not fully retire until 1961. In the same fashion, Jean-Marie began a transition to Christophe -- who had joined him in 1982 -- which culminated in a total handoff in 1990.

Most of the 11 ha of land from which the domaine sources its grapes is rented from family members. The exception is Ruchottes-Chambertin which is worked in a sharecropping arrangement with the proprietor, one Michel Bonnafond. The distribution of Roumier fruit sources is as shown below.
  • Grands Crus
    • Corton-Charlemagne -- 0.2 ha
    • Musigny -- 0.1 ha
    • Bonnes-Mares -- 1.6 ha
    • Ruchottes-Chambertin -- 0.54 ha
    • Charmes-Chambertin -- 0.28 ha
  • Premiers Crus
    • Clos de la Bussière -- 2.59 ha
    • Les Amoureuses -- 0.4 ha
    • Les Cras -- 1.75 ha
    • Combottes -- 0.27 ha
  • Village
    • Chambolle-Musigny -- 3.70 ha
The domaine's holdings in Bonnes-Mares are illustrated below.

The domaine's vines are farmed biodynamically and are known for low yields. The grapes are sorted in the vineyard and then transported to the cellar where they are mostly de-stemmed before being placed in wooden open-topped fermenters. The must is cold soaked at 15℃ before the initiation of an approximately 3-week fermentation by indigenous yeasts. The cap is punched down twice daily to ensure optimal extraction of flavor, anthocyanin, and tannin compounds.

After fermentation the wines are racked off into barriques for malolactic fermentation and aging. The oak regime is as follows:
  • Village wines -- 15 - 25% new
  • Premier Cru and Grand Cru (except Bonnes Mares) -- 25 - 40% 
  • Bonnes-Mares -- 50%
The wines are aged on their lees for between 16 and 18 months before being bottled unfined and unfiltered.

Now that we have dotted all I's and crossed all T's, we can turn to the main event: Lunch with Jean-Marc Roulot and Christophe Roumier.

©Wine -- Mise en abyme

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