Thursday, 27 February 2014

A lost chapter in Burgundy

Le Chapitre is an AOC Bourgogne climat in Chenôve, on the outskirts of Dijon. Despite its lowly appellation and location in the suburbs of Dijon, Le Chapitre was once considered one of Burgundy’s finest wines.  The wines of Chenôve were first documented by the Abbaye de Bèze in the 7th century and by the 11th century the Chapitre vineyard was recorded as part of the cathedral chapter of Autun, from whom the vineyard gets its name. Indeed, Le Chapitre was owned by the Dukes of Burgundy until the late 15th century and in its 18th century heyday it is reputed to have commanded a higher price than Gevrey. However, owing to an oversight of epic proportions in 1936, the communes of Chenôve and Marsannay refused to sign up the new  Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) system, thereby condemning their vineyards to irrelevance for the next fifty years.


Today, the majority Chenôve's wines are sold as AOC Marsannay, which was awarded AOC status in 1986. However, the 31 hectares of le Chapitre are sold as AOC Bourgogne. Indeed, the vineyard itself would be totally annonymous were it not for its heritage that allows it to keep the climat name on the label, an honour not normally awarded to the catch-all AOC Bourgogne. Therefore, as is common along the length of the Côte d'Or, the landscape and etymology of the vineyards reveal a rich tapestry of history and terroir. So, while the modern urban sprawl of Dijon has all but consumed the once rural village of Chenôve, the chapter house and its eponymous vineyard remain and hark back to more celebrated past. However, all is not lost. Chenôve is applying for AOC Marsannay status for Le Chapitre as part of a wider campaign to promote other climats in Marsannay to premier cru.

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