2018 Bernard Levet "Les Journaries" Cote-Rotie
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"Nicole Levet’s grandfather first purchased vineyards in Ampuis in 1936 and began making wine immediately thereafter. Initially, he delivered his Cote Rotie in barrels to the city of St. Etienne where he sold it to bistros and cafes for consumption by the miners of that city. In 1966, Nicole’s father, Marius Chambeyron, began to bottle a small portion of the production of the estate. I first encountered Marius Chambeyron in 1982 as I prospected in the region. He was a proud and somewhat brazen man who, despite the tiny size of his estate, proudly painted his name on the rocks that fronted the terraces of his small swath of vineyards as in the manner of the seigneurs of the appellation like Guigal, Delas and Vidal-Fleury. As we were preparing to begin our commercial relationship, Monsieur Chambeyron took ill and we never had the opportunity to bring his wines to the States.
Fortunately, his daughter, Nicole, and her husband, Bernard Levet, were prepared to continue Chambeyron’s life’s work. It was with the formidable 1983 vintage that Bernard Levet took over the wine production as well as the management of the vineyard with Nicole. This exceptional couple has now been responsible for the development of the domaine, increasing the vineyard holdings and expanding the cellar capacity so that they can now bottle their entire production. Nicole and Bernard have now been joined by their daughter, Agnes, who has inherited the love for vineyard work and obsession with detail that are essential parts of her parents’ character.
The Domaine’s current total production is 12,000 to 15,000 bottles annually and is exclusively of the appellation of Cote Rotie. We can proudly say that we have imported the wines of this domaine since that fabled 1983 vintage, never missing a vintage and eagerly accepting our annual allocation.
The Domaine consists of 3.5 hectares of vineyards, all of which are located within the boundaries of the town of Ampuis and are entitled to the Cote Rotie appellation. The vines are dispersed among six separate parcels:
“Chavaroche” (Cote Brune/southwest exposure/average age 40 years/1.2 hectare)
“Landonne” (Cote Brune/0.33 hectare/entirely old vines)
“Font Jean” (Cote Brune/young vines/0.15 hectare)
“Les Craies” (Cote Blonde/southwest exposure/entirely old vines/0.5 hectare)
“Mollard” (Cote Blonde/southeast exposure/old vines/0.33 hectare)
“Moulin” (situated just below La Turque/young vines/.4 hectare)
The vineyards are all steeply terraced and must be worked and harvested manually. In my entire experience, I have encountered no one who takes better care nor manages a vineyard with the talent of the Levet family.
NOTE: Bernard Levet’s wines are well-structured wines that are built for aging and experience significant improvement with time in bottle. In our opinion, these wines at maturity reflect most effectively the true nature of the terroir of Cote Rotie.
T Since the 2004 vintage, we have expanded our work with the Levet family to include a second bottling of Cote Rotie known as “Les Journaries”, a cuvée drawn from grapes harvested from old vines in the “La Landonne” lieu-dit. This wine is more subtle, more elegant and “quieter” if you will than the “Chavaroche”. At the same time, it is very much a Levet wine with a bouquet of violets, wild berries, a touch of animal and resinous-like tannins that speak of the inclusion of stems (a hallmark of the Levet tradition). The “Journaries” is approachable at an earlier stage than its companion “La Chavaroche” but, that being said, it is a wine that not only ages gracefully but almost requires a touch of patience. We now import approximately 1500 bottles plus magnums of this cuvée each vintage." -- Neal Rosenthal, Importer