Domaine Armand Rousseau

Domaine Armand Rousseau sits alongside the very greatest of the Burgundy producers.

For four generations, the Rousseau family has worked tirelessly and passionately on some of the finest terroirs of the Côte de Nuits.

The domain is managed by Eric Rousseau, with the help of his daughter Cyrielle. It has expanded over the years and today covers 15 hectares and 3 ares. They own 3 hectares of Village appellation, 3 hectares 77 of Premier Crus and 8 hectares 52 of Grand Crus, situated in Gevrey Chambertin and Morey-Saint-Denis.

From the moment the domain was established, the family developed an enduring ritual: the elders teach the ways of the vine the next generation. Thus, they maintain the strong bond between man and vine, upholding the family values and strong work ethic through the years. In the Rousseau family, the heartfelt love of the vines is renewed with each generation; a profound respect of the terroir is anchored in the family values.

Armand Rousseau

The Domaine was established at the beginning of the twentieth century by Armand Rousseau who, at the age of 18, inherited several plots of vineyards in Gevrey Chambertin. He came from a family of small landowners, composed mainly of winemakers, coopers and local wine merchants.

Armand’s marriage in 1909 provided him with additional vineyards, as well as the current Domaine premises. Situated near a thirteenth-century church in the oldest part of Gevrey Chambertin, the premises include a house, storage space, cellars and the winery.

Armand Rousseau first sold his wines in bulk to local wholesalers. Rapidly, he acquired the prestigious vineyards of Charmes Chambertin, Clos de la Roche, and Chambertin. He decided to start bottling his best wines himself, and with the help of Raymond Badouin, founder of the ‘revue des Vins de France’, he soon developed a clientèle of restaurants and private customers.

Over the years he has continued to expand the domain, notably by purchasing Mazy-Chambertin and Mazoyères Chambertin (sold under the appellation Charmes-Chambertin): Grand Cru appellations, classified as such in 1935 by the ‘Institut des Appellations d’Origine Contrôlée’. The Clos Saint Jacques was purchased his son’s name – Charles Rousseau joined the domain in 1945 after studying Law and Oenology at Dijon University.

Charles Rousseau

In 1959, Armand Rousseau died in a car accident on his way back from hunting. Charles Rousseau found himself at the head of the domain. He continued to develop the family business, adding to the 6 hectares he had inherited by acquiring more vines in the 1990s, especially Grand Crus: several parcels of Chambertin Clos de Bèze, some Chambertin and the entire vineyard of Clos des Ruchottes.

Fluent in English and German, Charles decided to prioritize the export of the domain wines. His father had started selling to the United States right after the end of prohibition, at the end of the 1930s. Charles first exported to the United Kingdom, Germany and Switzerland, then expanded to the whole of Europe, then Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and finally Asia in the 1970s.

Eric Rousseau

In 1982, Charles’ son Eric came on board after completing a degree at the Lycée Agricole et Viticole of Mâcon Davayé, specializing in oenology at Dijon University for a year, and working for a time with wine merchants and négociants in Burgundy.

Eric started in the vineyards, introducing new techniques such as green harvesting, leaf thinning and mechanical work of the soil without the use of insecticides or chemical additives. He steered the Domaine towards a more organic process, and became more involved with the winemaking, encouraging traditional methods and minimal intervention.

Cyrielle Rousseau

Cyrielle Rousseau returned to join her father at the domaine in 2014. After obtaining degrees in Geology and Viticulture and the DTO in Dijon, she left Europe to learn about winemaking abroad. She assisted with harvests and vinifications in Oregon, Australia and New Zealand, and gained experience on the commercial side by working with wine merchants and importers.

Today, she manages the domaine alongside her father, who hands down his knowledge of the work and the vineyards, ensuring that the philosophy of the domain and the values of the family are passed down to yet another generation.

In the Vineyard

Diving into the Heart of Terroir

This in-depth knowledge has led to a better understanding of the trade, which today enables the domain to concentrate on simplifying their approach, deepening their connection with their vineyards, their soils and their climate.

So that the varying needs of each individual vineyard can be tended to with utmost precision, work on the soils is carried out with as much adaptability as possible. Working the equilibrium of prevention and action, the aim is to respect the natural balance of the plant. A mostly organic integrated pest management is used across the vineyard.

Desuckering is systematically carried out, as well as green harvesting in high-yielding years, to optimise the ripeness of the grapes as well as their phenolic concentration. Quality is always placed above quantity at the domain.

The vines are on average fairly old, between 40 and 45 years for the most part, and exclusively of the Pinot Noir variety. They are planted at a density of 11,000 plants per hectare. The clones were selected for their low yield and high concentration.

‘True tradition does not mean reproducing what others have done, but finding the way of thinking behind the great achievements of the past, leading to different decisions as times change.’ — Paul Valéry

The wines are a testament to the simplicity of the Rousseau approach; they will hold their quality consistently throughout their lifespan.

In the Winery

The vinification methods at the domain have for the most part remained true to the very first harvest. The same rigorous monitoring of the stages of fermentation has been maintained.

Where in the World is Domaine Armand Rousseau?

Domaine Armand Rousseau is based in Gevrey-Chambertin in the Côte-de-Nuits, Burgundy, France. Head to the Wine Bites Magazine for a deep dive in the article “Getting Your Head Around Burgundy Part 9.1 – The Village of Gevrey-Chambertin”.

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