The wines of Armand Rousseau, Burgundy   
A vertical tasting of one of Burgundy's great producers held at London wine merchant Roberson Wine


Armand Rousseau founded this famous Burgundy domaine, located in Gevrey, in the 1920s. The winery is based up in the Combe de Lavaut. As well as inheriting some vineyards, Armand used to be a broker, negotiating deals between growers and negociants, and when domaines came on to the market, he was in a good position to acquire them.

At this time the shadow of phylloxera was still looming large over the region. There were many old vines infected with it, and also vineyards that were fallow and hadn’t been replanted. Armand Rousseau knew which plots to go for, and in 1921 he was bottling his own wine, and joined the likes of Gouges as pioneers of domaine bottling.

Armand was a close friend of Raymond Baudoin of Revue des Vins de France. Baudoin was a consultant to many domaines across France, and this gave Rousseau a route to market. His domaine very quickly became established as one of the greats of Burgundy.

He died in 1959, in a car accident returning from hunting, and his son Charles took over the then 6 hectare domaine. He’d previously been in sales and had to learn winemaking, and added to the vineyard holdings, as did Charles’ son Eric when he took over. Today the domaine has 14 hectares of vineyards, and Eric runs the show. He has made some viticultural changes, and today it’s mostly organic.

Winemaking? Everything is destemmed, and there’s a 4–5 day cold maceration, followed by alcoholic fermentation at just a shade over 30 °C. Eric prefers remontage during the early stages of fermentation (this stimulates the yeast), followed by pigeage towards the end. The wine then goes to oak. The majority of the barrels are from Francois Freres, and most is Allier. 


Armand Rousseau Gevrey Chambertin 2005 Burgundy, France
Made from 9 different parcels, 8 of which are in the southwest of the village. Quite tight and structured with lovely focused, savoury, spicy cherry fruit. Good structure here with bright, fresh red cherry fruit. Needs time to develop aromatic interest but all the components are there. 93/100

Armand Rousseau Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru Lavaut St Jacques 2007 Burgundy, France
Taut dark cherry fruit nose with a bit of spice. The palate is superbly elegant and textured with fresh, dark cherry and red berry fruit with lovely focus, some generosity and lushness to the fruit, but also good structure. Pure, ripe and fruity but also with nice spicy structure. You could happily drink this now. 95/100

Armand Rousseau Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru Les Cazetiers 2004 Burgundy, France
Green herby edge to the dark cherry fruit nose. Distinctive with some meaty notes. There’s a green edge to the cherryish palate which is otherwise quite elegant and pure. 89/100

Armand Rousseau Gevrey Chambertin 1et Cru Clos Saint Jacques 2000 Burgundy, France
Rousseau own 2.2 hectares of this 6.7 hectare vineyard (there are four other owners). It’s perhaps the best 1er Cru? Medicinal, minty and spicy with a dried herb edge to the nose. The palate is quite dry and savoury but has a spicy elegance to it. Lovely tannins and a hint of rusticity, with a dry finish. A multilayered, distinctive, structured wine of real appeal. 94/100

Armand Rousseau Clos de la Roche Grand Cru 1992 Burgundy, France
A 17 hectare vineyard. Complex nose with earth, tar and minerals as well as some herbs and mint, and red berry fruits. The palate shows some evolution with real elegance, some spicy tannins and a bit of tar. Still structured with nice cherry fruit and complex tertiary notes. Very fine, for drinking now. 93/100

Armand Rousseau Charmes Chambertin Grand Cru 1992 Burgundy, France
Beautifully aromatic: fine and pure with cherry and plum fruit and subtle herby notes. The palate shows vibrant cherry fruit and silky, smooth tannic structure, as well as some subtle meatiness. 95/100

Armand Rousseau Mazy Chambertin Grand Cru 1990 Burgundy, France
Mazy is often considered to be the 3rd of the big Grand Cru vineyards in Gevrey, but it’s an excellent site. Still quite taut with wonderfully elegant cherry and berry fruit backed up by smooth structure and good acidity. Hints of savoury, spicy, earthy notes but the dominant feature is the elegant fruit. Not flashy or overly aromatic, but just so much purity and elegance. 96/100

Armand Rousseau Ruchottes Chambertin Grand Cru 1989 Burgundy, France
Warm, evolved, spicy, earthy nose. Very lively and a bit smoky. The palate is ripe and sweet with dark cherry and plum fruit. Very open and showy with some rich spiciness. A bold wine of real intensity, nice tannins and good acidity. Just a hint of rusticity. 94/100

Armand Rousseau Chambertin Grand Cru 1989 Burgundy, France
Rousseau have a 2.5 hectare holding in this 12.5 hectare vineyard. This bottle is a little too evolved. Firm, spicy, earthy nose is quite savoury. The palate has rich structure and spicy, earthy notes. Evolved and perhaps lacking a bit of fruit, but there’s some complexity and minerality here, as well as some phenolic notes. 92/100

Armand Rousseau Chambertin Clos de Beze Grand Cru 2001 Burgundy, France
Thrilling purity: focused and a bit spicy, showing subtle oak notes. Beautifully textured and quite dense with rich, spicy dark cherry and plum fruit. Very fine with good acidity, lively fruit and structure. 95/100

Tasting held at Roberson Wine, 348 Kensington High St, London

See also:

Visiting Burgundy (series)
The wines of Domaine Fourrier
The wines of Comtes Lafon

Wines tasted 11/10  
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