ou will find Domaine Heresztyn right in the heart of Gevrey-Chambertin, one of Burgundy's most prestigious villages. This eleven-hectare domaine has its roots in Poland and first saw the light of day back in 1959. Before that Jean Heresztyn, the father and father-in-law of today's owners, had been growing onions, working for other domaines and doing various other things, all while slowly building a domaine of his own.
The wine portfolio of Domaine Heresztyn is dominated by Gevrey-Chambertin, both village and premier crus, with a bit of Morey-Saint-Denis and Chambolle-Musigny thrown in. In the cellars below Rue Richebourg there is the chance to taste four different Gevrey-Chambertin premier crus side by side, accompanied by two village Gevrey-Chambertins.
The domaine today is very much a family affair. The two sons of Jean Heresztyn – Stanislas and Bernard – and their families run the domaine.
– Stanislas and I deal with the importers, explains Chantal Heresztyn, the wife of Bernard. As for the other work it is Bernard and Stanislas that take care of the cuverie and the vines. I try to go there as often as possible with Ewa, my sister-in-law, and Stanislas' daughter Florence and her husband. My two sons have decided to do other things. Amaury works for Apple in the US and Greg is in London.
The four Gevrey-Chambertin premier crus of Domaine Heresztyn – La Perrière, Les Corbeaux. Les Champonnets and Les Goulots – are located in a half-circle around the village. To the north, close to the Brochon border, is Les Goulots. The name Les Goulots has been used ever since the monks planted the first vines here during the Middle Ages.
– If you compare the soil of Les Goulots with the soil of its neighbour, Combe au Moine, you will see that they are very different, says Stanislas Heresztyn. In Les Goulots there is one part that is calcareous and one part that is calcareous with clay.
A bit further south, just at the entrance to the Combe Lavaux, is Les Champonnets. While the altitude for Les Goulots is between 340 and 380 metres Les Champonnets just reaches 280 metres. The slope is modest and the soil more pebbly.
– It is just behind the village, says Stanislas Heresztyn. It is very close to Ruchottes-Chambertin and Clos des Issarts.
The remaining two premier crus are just outside the village, on either side of the Route des Grands Crus as you drive towards Morey-Saint-Denis. Les Corbeaux is just above the road and La Perrière below, just opposite the grand cru Mazis-Chambertin.
– Les Corbeaux is also next to Mazis-Chambertin, but to the north, explains Stanislas Heresztyn. Les Corbeaux and La Perriére are very different in character. In Les Corbeaux the grapes ripen a few days before La Perrière. Les Corbeaux lacks a bit of finesse, while La Perrière has more of it. Les Corbeaux has more clay and La Perrière more pebbles.
In Morey-Saint-Denis Domaine Heresztyn has vines in both the premier cru Les Millandes and the grand cru Clos-Saint-Denis. One step further down the Côte, in Chambolle-Musigny, the domaine has holdings in both the village appellation and in the premier cru Les Borniques.
There is also some Bourgogne rouge and some Bourgogne blanc, the only white wine of the domaine. All these vines are located in the regional appellation around Gevrey-Chambertin.
– Some of the vines for the white are in Brochon close to Billards and the rest are in Champfranc, by the soccer field, says Chantal Heresztyn. For the Bourgogne rouge some vines are also in Brochon close to Billards and the rest in Champfranc and Prunier.
It was in 1932, in the wake of a trade war with Germany that ultimately had proved harmful to the Polish economy, that Jean Heresztyn left his native Poland.
– France needed people that could work in the factories, in the vineyards etc, says Stanislas Heresztyn. His brother, sister and brother-in-law were already here. But they would later return to Poland when they were offered good terms to go back.
– My mother wanted to go back, but my father wasn't that interested.
Instead Jean Heresztyn began working for others. First up in Fixin, then later in Chambolle-Musigny.
– They bought a small house in Chambolle-Musigny that he renovated, says Stanislas Heresztyn. But as in Fixin they were not particularly fond of foreigners. So they relocated to Gevrey-Chambertin, where he began working for Domaine Trapet. He stayed there for 10-15 years. During that time he bought some vines whenever he could.
In order to make some more money he began growing onions while working for Domaine Trapet. After a while he had an annual production of 50 tons, which he sold to a factory in Auxonne that had it turned into onion powder.
– When my parents began to grow onions others followed when they saw that it was successful, says Stanislas Heresztyn. But eventually there was so much produced that there was an onion crisis. There was too much produced so the price fell.
It was around this time, in 1959, that Jean Heresztyn felt he was ready to set up his own business. He left Domaine Trapet, bought the house on Rue Richebourg and Domaine Heresztyn was created.
– In order to get a kind of revenge for how he had been treated in Chambolle-Musigny he bought some vines there, smiles Stanislas Heresztyn. Four parcels of village appellation and some premier cru Les Borniques.
© 2010 Ola Bergman