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By Linden Wilkie, 5 March 2020
Domaine Harmand-Geoffroy is one of the great specialist exponents of red Burgundy from Gevrey-Chambertin. It’s a visit we always look forward to as the family are warm, friendly, unpretentious, and very much dedicated to their vines and wines. Indeed, with their home and their winery located in Gevrey-Chambertin itself, with vines that they tend beginning just outside the house, the deep intuition for Gevrey that you can sense when you taste becomes easier to understand.
Five generations of the family have tended vines here. Gérard and his wife Martine have had responsibility since the early 1980s, a time when Gérard also worked as an aeronautical engineer at Dassault. Tasting a vertical of his Mazis-Chambertin with him during The Fine Wine Experience Burghound Symposium a few years ago, his wines from the ‘80s and ‘90s still drink very well. They were made in the ‘classic’ style – built to age, firm yet intense and expressive. Their son Philippe joined in the mid-2000s, and as Gérard explained, “two pairs of hands is better than one”. It was tasting a wonderful, intense, spicy, pure Mazis-Chambertin 2005 by chance in 2010 that put this domaine on my radar. Since then, Philippe gradually took the reins, and is now in charge, with parents in support.
(Click to Play Video)The Fine Wine Experience team joined Philippe Harmand and Gérard Harmand as the 2019 harvest got underway in Gevrey-Chambertin
Philippe’s approach is still traditional, less firm, more supple and fruit-expressive in youth, though with the satisfying level of substance we expect from Gevrey. Vineyards are ploughed, and there is no weedkiller, insecticide or chemical fertilizer used. Freshness is maintained by careful management of the canopy, and yields are managed through green-harvesting. Grapes are sorted, and 100% de-stemmed, with traditional punching down or pumping over, depending on the profile of the year – Philippe is not a ‘formula’ winemaker.
With a domaine of 9 hectares, the range begins with a very good quality regular village-level Gevrey-Chambertin that offers good value for money and classic dark cherry taste. This sees 20% new oak, and is fruit-forward and enjoyable usually soon after release. There is a noticeable step up in density, spice and length with the Gevrey-Chambertin “Vieilles Vignes”, where vines average 65 years of age. This sees 40% new oak. For me, a reference Gevrey and one I enjoy often. Fantastic value. At the 1er Cru level we can begin to see the range of expression possible in Gevrey – wider than we sometimes expect until we consider the range of terroirs. Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru ‘La Bossiere’ is a monopole of the domaine. This lies in a cooler part of Gevrey. In cool vintages it’s closer to red fruits in expression and in hotter years it delivers a noticeable extra level of freshness compared to Gevrey in general. I love it in 2018. Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru ‘La Perrière’, from a 0.33ha plot with 50 year old vines, is close to the Gevrey archetype – black fruit, fine structure and density. Classic. These two 1er Crus see 30% new oak. The Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru ‘Lavaux St Jacques’ (40% new oak) shows wildness and fine firm structure, and will reward the most cellaring.
Domaine Harmand-Geoffroy is one of the best producers of Mazis-Chambertin Grand Cru. They have a sizeable share – 0.8ha over 6 plots across both ‘Mazis Haut’ and ‘Mazis Bas’ – a collection averaging 45 years of vine age that covers the grand cru vineyard well. It sees 90% new oak, but you can hardly tell, as the fine black fruit, licorice and spice of Mazis swallows it all up so readily. This is not a ‘showpiece’ style wine, but a very clear, pure expression, a great brooding, yet fine expression of Mazis-Chambertin. A deeply satisfying wine, that is hard to resist young, but that cellars well. The value for money here for such quality grand cru is simply outstanding. You’ll be very pleased to see those magnums in your cellar in a few years time.