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INTRODUCTION

This domaine, based in the heart of Gevrey-Chambertin, will be known to many of our customers as Domaine des Varoilles.

Domaine du Couvent En Primeur

The Chéron and Hammel families were joint owners of Domaine des Varoilles, in Gevrey-Chambertin.  In July 2020, following the retirement of Gilbert Hammel, the majority of the Domaine des Varoilles holdings was absorbed into Philippe Chéron’s Domaine du Couvent. The wines are therefore now labelled as Domaine du Couvent. 

Philippe is not a new face in the Côte de Nuits. He has been at the helm of Domaine Misset-Chéron since 2011, when he took over the family business from his father. His grandfather, Paul Misset, founded Domaine Misset-Chéron in the late 1930s. The family soon expanded beyond Burgundy, buying large vineyard holdings in Vacqueras and Gigondas in the Rhône Valley – operations that are run independently, by Philippe’s brother and sister.  Philippe was also a silent partner in Domaine des Varoilles, in Gevrey-Chambertin. The new venture takes its name from the cellar in Gevrey-Chambertin, where the Varoilles wines were made. The building was a former all-girls boarding house, ran by the nuns of the Couvent de Chatel (located in the Jura region).  The building houses an impressive underground cellar, where the wines age.  C&B’s favourite cuvées from Domaine des Varoilles are in good hands and you will be able to continue collecting the monopoles – Gevrey-Chambertin 1er cru La Romanée, Gevrey-Chambertin Clos du Meix des Ouches – as well as the Charmes-Chambertin.

The 2021 vintage will be released later in 2023.

THE DOMAINE

The Chéron and Hammel families were joint owners of Domaine des Varoilles, in Gevrey-Chambertin. In July 2020, following the retirement of Gilbert Hammel, the majority of the Domaine des Varoilles holdings was absorbed into Philippe Chéron’s Domaine du Couvent. The wines are therefore now labelled as Domaine du Couvent.

In October 2021, we met Philippe Chéron for the first time in his cellars in the centre of Nuits-Saint-Georges. Tall and rangy in workman’s overalls, with a dry sense of humour and an obvious love of wine, we liked him immediately. He told us that his father had worked in the Varoilles vines since the 1970s, so there is clearly good knowledge of the terroirs within the familys.

THE VINEYARD

Domaine du Couvent has some real gems, potential future stars of their appellations.

In the vineyard, Philippe follows the principles of organic viticulture, eschewing the use of any chemical products. The vines are over 70 years old and yields are low. A lot of work on the canopy helps to control their vigour, to protect against the threats of weather and to fight pests. Harvest is done by hand, placing the bunches into small crates to protect the berries. Once at the winery, the norm is to destem the grapes, but due to the heat in recent years, Philippe has been experimenting with some whole-bunch fermentation, if he feels it will add to the complexity of the wine, without masking the varietal and terroir expression.

Philippe is humble and softly spoken, deeply knowledgeable about his vines and wines, and passionately respectful of the land he is custodian of. His wines are full of energy and freshness. I rapidly forgot that I was tasting young wines, still in the making (malolactic fermentation was just finishing), from a very rich and concentrated vintage. Each appellation was effortlessly beguiling. We could have drunk any of those bottles at lunch that day.

I may be biased, because I have enjoyed the wines of Varoilles from day one, when I first joined C&B. I was worried we would lose them after Gilbert Hammel’s retirement. Nowadays, finding outstanding Côte de Nuits wines at a reasonable price is difficult. After meeting Philippe, tasting his interpretation of these classics for C&B and discovering his own wines, I am convinced the future is bright here for Burgundy lovers. 

After my visit, Philippe agreed to give us a small allocation of his wines. At such a late stage, well after the end of the 2020 Burgundy En Primeur campaign, it was very kind of him to do so. We have taken as much as possible. These are great wines and I encourage you to add some to your collection.

Domaine du Couvent En Primeur 2020

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