Though Alexandrine Roy's roots are firmly planted on her family's small (4 hectare) estate in
Burgundy's Gevrey-Chambertin, she has honed her winemaking skills all over the world,
working in Australia, Central Otago in New Zealand and Bandol in Provence before returning
to work with her father Marc on the family estate. Not to be limited, Alexandrine now
functions as contributing winemaker for Phelps Creek Vineyards in Oregon, which
unsurprisingly specializes in the two major Burgundy varietals, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay;
she has produced a special Pinot cuvée for the winery. To complete the international
circle, I met Alexandrine in New York at the recent Terroirs et Signatures de Bourgogne
2009 wine tasting event. Alexandrine is direct, feisty, and absolutely charming in her evident
total dedication to her family's tiny spec of Burgundy and its handful of signature wines.
Alexandrine runs the winery with true focus, doing the kind of work I would call hands-on, if
it didn't also involve her feet. The Domaine employs the same labor force every year to pick
the grapes in the field. These knowledgeable workers are able to sort the grapes as they are
being picked, obviating the need for a sorting table and bringing the fully destemmed grapes
more quickly from field to fermenter, where Alexandrine herself may be found accomplishing
the pigeage the old fashioned way, employing the aforementioned feet. Not one to settle for
only putting her physical oomph into her wines, Alexandrine also follows a philosophy that is
in keeping with her responsibility as fourth generation family winemaker. “The key to
our wines,” she tells me, “is classic style, elegance, balance and
tipicity.” A gentle extraction process is the norm, as is an average aging of one year
in oak that is at least half used. Nothing in excess, in other words, except dedication.
While the distinctive Gevrey-Chambertin reds are the winery's specialty, Domaine Marc Roy
also produces a limited amount of white wine, under the Marsannay, Les Champs Perdrix
appellation, about 2000 bottles from a half hectare section. I would have loved to try this
Chardonnay, but Alexandrine's Passion des Terroirs table showcased red wines only, two of
winery's three major offerings. The missing red was the Gevrey-Chambertin "Cuvée
Alexandrine," which, if it reflects in any way its namesake, has got to be as seriously and
authentically Burgundian as can be. The wine reflects something of a secret recipe, a culling
of the best vines from a number of parcels, to compensate for the fact that the winery has
neither grand nor premier cru parcels.
I first tasted the 2007 Domaine Marc Roy Gevrey-Chambertin Vielles Vignes, $33, a product
of seventy year old vines, the winery's main cuvée. Visually the wine showed me a
bright, clear ruby of medium depth. The nose is a pleasant and well balanced mix of dark
berries with some baking spice, sweet black licorice, warm cedar, rose and a tinge of earth.
The wine is dry with firm acidity, medium body, with a palate of ripe berries and a tinge of
pomegranate tang. The finish is elegant, very well balanced, combining fine grained tannins
with some fragrant cedar. Overall, the wine brings the soft tannins and agreeable texture one
associates with Gevrey-Chambertin, showing delicacy and depth in one integrated package. I
want to revisit this wine in just a few years, however.
The 2007 Domaine Marc Roy Gevrey-Chambertin Clos Prieur, $40, is the product of a
fifty-year-old single parcel located a pebble's throw from several Grand Cru properties. I
found the look of this wine one of the most marvelous I'd beheld in quite some time. The
clarity and luminosity is impressive, the hue a medium depth true scarlet. The wine's nose did
nothing to derail the good visual start, bringing rich red cherry, dried cherry and a fresh
brambly raspberry; the juice you get on your fingers after you gorge yourself on the fruit.
Fruit, well supported by acidity, also leads on the palate: cherry, pomegranate, ripe red plum,
and blackberry. The palate shows some nutmeg and clove as well, with cedar woody notes.
My disparate observations do not do justice to the wine, however, since it shows excellent
integration of all these flavor elements, the acidity, and some reasonably firm tannins. Fruity
cedar shows on the long finish. The elements come together so well you could drink the wine
today or cellar it depending on your level of patience.
“The Vielles Vignes is frank and pleasant,” Alexandrine tells me, “with
a lot of red fruit. The wine has very good persistence, enhanced by a good acidity, and soft
ripe tannins. The Clos Prieur has a more delicate nose that increases in intensity as the wine
opens up, with a firm attack on the palate led by cherry. Tannins are firm but elegant and
ripe. We make this Pinot in a classic terroir-driven style. You can drink it now but it will
become rounder and silkier if you wait two years.”
Terroir says it all