White Chorey-lès-Beaune is a rare bird. Quite a few growers produce it, but quantities are small. Out of the appellation’s 124 hectares only nine are planted with chardonnay. The rest is pinot noir.
– We have been making white Chorey-lès-Beaune for 20 years, says Vincent Roy at Domaine Georges Roy. It is not very well-known and generally people come here for the reds. But we do have two or three places within the appellation that are well-suited for chardonnay.
Chorey-lès-Beaune, just five minutes north of Beaune, is also the village where you’ll find Domaine Georges Roy. It is a nine-hectare domaine, but only half of what is produced is bottled under the domaine name. The rest is sold off in bulk to négociants.
– It was my father who planted the chardonnay vines for our white Chorey-lès-Beaune, continues Vincent Roy. It’s on the Aloxe-Corton side of Chorey-lès-Beaune, in Les Champs Longs, a terroir very good for white. There is a growing interest for white Chorey-lès-Beaune. Many of my colleagues are planting chardonnay, but 20 years ago white Chorey-lès-Beaune was difficult to sell and all was sent to négociants.
Not much new oak is used for this wine, just between five and ten per cent. In some vintages, like 2010 and 2012, no new oak at all was used.
– At harvest we press and the juice goes straight into barrels for the fermentation. I use yeast from the BIVB (the trade organisation in Burgundy), because with small volumes in barrels it can be difficult to have the fermentation start. For the reds I don’t buy yeast.
– What I’m looking for is freshness and fruit. Not necessarily powerful wines. I want to make wines you can drink over the next two or three years. Then again, should you forget a bottle in your cellar for ten years it is not a problem.
With the exception of the Beaune premier cru Les Champs Pimont, all the vineyards of Domaine Georges Roy are located around the Corton hill – in Chorey-lès-Beaune, Savigny-lès-Beaune and in Aloxe-Corton. The regional appellations vineyards, such as red and white Bourgogne, Bourgogne Aligoté and Bourgogne Passetoutgrains, are all located behind the house in Chorey-lès-Beaune. Much of the wine from the regional appellations is sold off in bulk.
– I work together with my sister, says Vincent Roy. Our parents retired a few years ago. We have tried to increase the sales in bottles. Before 1990 practically everything was sold to négociants. Aloxe-Corton is easy to sell, because there isn’t much, but we have got large quantities of Bourgogne and red Chorey-lès-Beaune.
Most of the villages on the Côte d’Or have their vineyards west of the D974 road. Chorey-lès-Beaune is an exception. The village itself and all vineyards except two lieux-dits – Les Ratosses and Les Beaumonts – are located east of the road. The red Chorey-lès-Beaune comes from Les Ratosses. It is far smaller than the neighbouring Les Beaumonts. While Les Beaumonts covers 41 hectares Les Ratosses is just 4.53 hectares. One hectare is owned by Domaine Georges Roy. The rest is split between Domaine Tollot-Beaut, Domaine Maillard, Domaine Machard de Gramont (the one in Premeaux-Prissey), Domaine Doussot-Rollet, Domaine Podechard and Domaine Arnoux.
– Les Ratosses is just opposite the restaurant next to the route nationale, says Vincent Roy. We have one small part with young vines and one large part with 70-year-old vines. The old vines produce very small grapes and yields are low. A vineyard of the same size in Savigny-lès-Beaune produces eight barrels, this one produces two.
– Compared with Les Beaumonts it is a little bit stonier, a bit more well-drained. Les Beaumonts has deeper soil.
Just a couple of kilometres northeast along the D974 road are the domaine’s Aloxe-Corton vines. Four parcels, half a hectare in total, and they are all located within Les Cras on the flat part in front of the village.
– As you enter the village on the road with trees on both sides you have Les Cras on your right side, says Vincent Roy. In Aloxe-Corton you have better length in the wines and more colour.
– Our reds spend a year in barrel. At harvest time the following year we move the wine to tanks and they spend the second winter there. The élévage for our reds is 17 months. Our Beaune premier cru, Les Champs Pimont, stays in barrel all the time, because it can take it.
Les Champs Pimont is on the Pommard side of Beaune, squeezed in between other premier crus such as La Mignotte, Clos des Avaux and Les Aigrots.
– It is up on the slope, on the ”second floor”, says Vincent Roy. It is well-exposed, but slightly cooler than down below. Not much soil; it’s very close to the rock. There is a bit of sand in the soil and it is well-drained. You can have 40 mm of rain and it is not a problem here.
– Compared with the other wines of the domaine Les Champs Pimont is different. It is a different style of wine. Black, very ripe, fruit. Spicy and peppery.
Vincent Roy arrived at the domaine back in 1998 after having finished wine school. Wine-growing goes back to the generation of his grandparents, but it was his father who decided to focus only on wine.
– There were vineyards on both sides. So when my parents married two domaines became one domaine covering seven hectares. My grandparents had vineyards, but they also had other crops. And there were a couple of cows and three pigs. My grandmother also produced gherkins for Fallot, the mustard producer in Beaune. It wasn’t until the 1950s that my father decided to focus on wine.
© 2014 Ola Bergman