The Domaine Chavy-Chouet Estate
Romaric Chavy took over the estate in 2014, making him the eighth generation to make wine in his family. Romaric learned from his father, Hubert Chavy, who founded the winery. Chavy-Chouet is one of the oldest families in Puligny-Montrachet. The Ropiteau family (on his mother's side) is the oldest one in Meursault.
Winery Philosophy: To produce top-flight wines that reflect the very essence of their appellations, namely Meursault, Puligny-Montrachet, Saint-Aubin, Volnay, and Pommard.
Hubert Chavy (known not only for his winemaking but also for his charisma) was able to train Romaric in for a few years before his passing in early 2014. Romaric has become a very smart vigneron with a great philosophy. Making wine has come naturally to him, as if often does in Burgundy when you are next in line.
After six years at a specialist winemaking school and with plenty of experience in winegrowing and vinification around the world under his belt, Romaric has given the estate a makeover, watching over his 15 hectares of vines with a rigorous eye. He is proud of his roots, and his approach combines rigor, tradition, and innovation.
A group from Kysela visits Chavy-Chouet in January each year, carrying on a tradition of tasting from barrels, then bottles, and then finishing with some mystery wines. The group has to guess the appellation and the vintage of wines being poured from magnums...a tough job, but somebody has to do it.
This is a 15 hectare-domaine (37 acres) that produces wine from 14 A.O.C.'s (80% White, 20% Red). The vineyard is divided into 70 parcels planted to vines that are 40 years old or more. He uses Gillet as his cooper, who blends oak from Nevers, Limousin and Allier forests. The barrels receive medium toast. Romaric, just as his father, Hubert, does not fine or filter his wines, as he prefers their purity to shine through.
The winery covers 1,300 square meters, including 800 square meters of cellars, and is a mix of ancient and ultra-modern. The set-up allows him to work hand-in-hand with nature in a well-managed yet pleasant environment, and to meet his very high demands in terms of quality. The wines are put into barrels using gravity, intervention is kept to a minimum, and an irreproachable attitude to cleanliness also symbolize his quest for excellence in the shape of pure and balanced wines that burst with energy.
A corked bottle of 1983 Pichon-Lalande led to my inaugural visit to this Meursault domaine. My precious Pauillac corked, I ordered a bottle of 2015 Bourgogne Les Femelottes from Chavy-Chouet at Brat restaurant in London. It was so damn delicious that I ordered another and emailed winemaker Romaric Chavy that I must visit pronto.
Arriving at the gates, I noticed that there was no doorbell or knocker. When I was noticed loitering outside, the gates finally opened and Romaric Chavy informed me that they do without a doorbell because they have so many visitors. Chavy is a young and confident guy, very media-savvy, which is uncommon in Burgundy. He worked abroad in various countries including South Africa and Greece before taking over Chavy-Chouet at the age of just 22. Before tasting through the 2017s, which had all been bottled, I asked about the background of the domaine.
“The holdings come from two sides of my grandfather’s family. Chavy comes from Puligny-Montrachet, and his wife was part of the Ropiteau family in Meursault. Back then, he sold the wines to Bouchard Père. It was my own father, Hubert, who started bottling his own wine when he married his wife from Pommard and bought this house in Meursault. I started at the domaine in 2006 when we were still selling off grapes. I already had a good network [of potential clients] and so we started to bottle everything and develop exports. My father passed away in 2014. Now we have 15 hectares, mostly old vines located in five villages, producing around 90,000 bottles, of which around 90% is exported. We have three or four people working full-time and we work in a classical way - lutte raisonée and ploughing in the vineyard. This year we approached half the vineyard organically, but when the pressure became too high, we switched back and used spray. We press the fruit for two hours, with a 24-hour debourbage, and then ferment in barrel using natural yeast, a maximum of 20% new oak for between 9 and 12 months, with no lees stirring and a light filtration before bottling. We try to keep as much natural CO2 as possible.”
It is always a pleasure to discover a producer who has skimmed under your Burgundy radar for some time. Chavy-Chouet has built a loyal following here in the UK and I can understand why. These wines are very pure, terroir-driven and focused. Yet they are not challenging or pretentious and give much sensory pleasure. As I mentioned, you can splash the cash on a Premier Cru white if you wish, but do not ignore the 2017 Bourgogne Blanc Les Femelottes. It is unequivocally Village Cru in quality – no real surprise given that its vines are adjacent to Puligny-Village. The 2017 Meursault Charmes is an absolute knockout, whilst the monopole Clos des Corvées de Citeau is superb. This is an address I will definitely return to in the future, though I have made a mental note to phone ahead, so that I can actually get in. - Neal Martin"
- Antonio Galloni's Vinous (2017 Burgundy: A Modern Classic, January 2019)