There is no clan in Burgundy more venerable then the Trapet family and no family is more directly linked to their village both locally and internationally. For seven generations, beginning in the late 19th century when Louis Trapet’s son Arthur began purchasing vineyards in and around the village of Gevrey (later renamed Gevrey-Chambertin), the two have been inextricably linked with their fortunes rising together through the decades. Their place in history was established early on when in the 1880s, at the height of the phyloxerra crisis and only 5 years after the first vineyard purchases, Arthur decided to clandestinely graft over vines to American root stock, which was still illegal at the time.
The estate is currently headed by philosopher/pioneer Jean-Louis, who took over the reins from his father Jean in the early 1990s, and his Alsatian wife Andrée where her family’s vineyards are now carefully tended by their two sons, Pierre and Louis. Like his forefathers, Jean-Louis was at the fore when the winds of change began leading a younger generation of winegrowers to begin questioning conventional and established viticulture practices. He was one of the earliest growers to embrace not only organic but biodynamic viticulture back in the early 1990s and is still out in front as he and his colleagues grapple with climate change and it’s effect on the vineyards. To that end, he has already transitioned 15% of the vineyards to the the échalas system of pruning and vine training that is ubiquitous in the Northern Rhône region. This move required special approval by regional authorities as it is not one of the authorized techniques in Burgundy. By training vines up a taller stake and not trellising the branches through the vegetative growing season, Jean-Louis is convinced that the added vine density, increased leaf mass and shade might just be what the doctor ordered.
Although historically, the Trapet name was synonymous with old-styled, highly-structured wines built for the ages, Jean-Louis has honed his style, moving more towards an emphasis on purity, elegance and finesse, all wrapped up in a wine that will age gracefully and provide a uniquely transparent view of the underlying terroir. Pigeage, punching down the cap, takes place early on in the fermentation when there’s less risk of extracting bitter tannins. As the fermentation heats up, this is replaced by the more gentle remontage, pumping over. Reasonable levels of new oak are used for aging, ranging from 20-50% depending on the hierarchy of the vineyard and the nature of the vintage.
Trapet’s outstanding grand crus (Latricières-Chambertin, Chapelle-Chambertin and Chambertin) are crafted to really highlight their underlying terroirs. Though they may not be as “big” or powerfully constructed as some of their other more flashy neighbors in Gevrey-Chambertin, they are in the top echelon in terms of aromatics, flavor complexity, expression of terroir, and aging potential. Like the man himself, there is an elegence, grace and purity to the wines that is haunting and rare in a village where power dominates. All in all, Domaine Trapet Père et Fils is at the top of their game, with Jean-Louis crafting wines that are as stunning as any in the great history of this long-respected Gevrey superstar.
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