One of the most prestigious Appellations of Gevrey Chambertin. Clos de Bèze is widely considered to be ‘Primus inter pares’ (first among equals), among the Grand Crus of Burgundy.
Located on the upper part of the hill, in the very heart of the Grands Crus area of Grands Crus, with an exceptional eastward orientation. The plot covers 15 ha and 29 acres of stony soil. Founded by the monks of the Abbey of Bèze in the 7th century in the year 640 A.D, Clos de Bèze is one of the oldest recorded vineyards of Burgundy.
The vineyard slope is exposed just a little more east than Chambertin’s, this extra sun coupled to the lack of that cold Combe de Grisard breeze aids earlier ripening. The whole slope sits on a deep bed of Bajocian limestone, though the soil is lighter in colour as well as depth at the top of the vineyard.
The Difference Between the two Great Grand Cru vineyards of Gevrey: Chambertin, and Clos de Bèze - Clive Coates MW, Decanter Magazine, March 2010, pg 41
Chambertin and Chambertin-Clos de Bèze are two of the few vineyards that can be ranked at the top of the Burgundian hierarchy.
What is the difference between Chambertin and Clos de BÈze?
Clos de Bèze lies north of Chambertin, on the same altitude (275m to 300m), and is the larger (15.4 hectares as opposed to 12.9ha). In both, the soil is Bajocian limestone. Chambertin has white oolite in the upper part of the slope; Clos de Bèze dosen't. In both you can find pebbles and clay, perhaps more clay in Chambertin. The proportion of fine earth to pebbles (68% to 32%) is the same as Montrachet. The incline is a little steeper in Bèze and the slope is slightly convex, as opposed to concave in Chambertin, but there's not much in it.
In Domaine Armand Rousseau’s case, to quote Charles Rousseau himself: : "Gevrey's Grand cru climat of Chambertin is male and virile. It is bigger and more tannic. It lacks a bit of finesse in it's youth, but it rounds off…Clos de Bèze is more mineral, much more complex, plus race (more racy), has more class, and is more delicate." These are virile wines. The tannins are more obvious than in the top wines of Vosne-Romanée. Chambertins are full, firm and austere at the outset; structured and fleshy, with a flavour of black fruit, liquorice and coffee beans initially; mellowing into something rich, concentrated, generous and warm-hearted when they mature. The Clos de Bèze is more perfumed in its youth; the Chambertin is more severe, perhaps the bigger of the two. Both are true vins de garde, needing a decade at least to soften up.
Bernard Hervet of Faiveley says: "The soil of Clos de Bèze is more homogenous" and believes the level of success more consistent. He goes on to note that because Clos de Bèze can be labelled Chambertin, but not vice-versa, Bèze is in principle better quality.
Philippe Prost, Winemaker at Bouchard states: "Chambertin is wild, Clos de Bèze is ethereal, long, complex."
Jacques Lardiere, the Winemaker of Jadot, says: "We have a responsibility to the consumer to present a wine true to its origins and its hierarchy. Others have changed their vinification methods, and forgotten this. Clos de Bèze is a spiritual wine. Chambertin isn't."
Gaston Roupnel (1871-1946) said of Chambertin and Clos-de-Bèze: "The wine blends grace and vigour. it combines austerity and power with finesse and delicacy. Together there is all that is necessary for a synthesis that is generosity and perfection itself."
Claude Arnous, an émigré Beaunois priest, published one of the first accounts of the wines of Burgundy in London in 1728. Chambertin Clos de Bèze, in Arnoux’s opinion, is “the most considerable wine in all Burgundy…it has all the qualities and none of the defects of the other wines”.
Napoleon’s predilection for the wines of Chambertin Clos de Bèze is well known. He is reputed to have drunk little else. It would seem that the Emperor drank his Chambertin-Clos de Bèze – five or six years old and bottled with an embossed ‘N’ – much diluted with water. On the retreat from Moscow, though, his cellar was stolen by Cossacks, or so his stewards alleged. The French market was soon flooded with fake Chambertin-Clos de Bèze ‘returned from Russia’, enough to have been the production of a number of vintages.
Clive Coates MW "The wine of Chambertin and Clos de Bèze, not least because of the Napolonic patronage, has a great reputation. At their best these wines are certainly not just among the top wines of Burgundy but among the top red wines of the world."