Back-Vintage Chambolle - Burgundy Without Artifice: 2006 Bertheau Chambolle 1er Cru Charmes

Posted by Ian McFadden

Back-Vintage Chambolle 1er Cru
2006 Bertheau Chambolle
1er Cru Les Charmes
Burgundy Without Artifice

"I do wonder how he has managed to fly beneath the international burgundy-loving radar for so long. His wines are really outstanding - very pure and unforced." -Jancis Robinson

Until a couple years ago, Francois Bertheau was a producer who we only knew by reputation. We took a flyer on a parcel of his old wines. And we were simply blown away.

We immediately became obsessed. Wasted no time writing glowing emails about the wines young and old. The quick sell-outs have shown we're not alone in our obsession. If Bertheau was a secret, word is definitely out. Finding anything besides the current vintage is next to impossible.

The wine that really sealed the deal for me with Bertheau was his '92 Charmes - a stunning wine from a so-so vintage. The wine did two things for me: it confirmed the level of winemaking at Bertheau and told me loud and clear how good Charmes is here. It's one of my favorite examples of this 1er Cru.

It's impossible not to underscore the value here. With almost eight years of age, the 2006 still clocks in below the pricing for the current release.

2006 is somewhat of a forgotten vintage. First overshadowed by the blockbuster 2005, it then retreated into a brief shutdown period. Now, though, the 2006s are beginning to reveal themselves in their beautiful, terroir-driven glory. Most importantly, '06 is a vintage that played into Bertheau's hands. He's endowed the vintage with a beautiful sense of rigor and completeness.

The 1er Cru Charmes is classic Chambolle - elegant, silken and aromatically gorgeous. Bertheau delivers an expression of Charmes that's unwaveringly pure, honest and precise.

When Kermit Lynch calls him "a gifted winemaker of the old school," this is what he's getting at. These are wines without artifice—restrained, and aging on delicacy, not density. They taste of a different time. Introducing new Burgundy producers to customers is not easy, but the response to Bertheau has been impressive. People have written in thanking us and saying how happy they are that red Burgundy in this style is still available.

As one of our absolute favorites in Chambolle, Bertheau sits up there with producers like Ghislaine Barthod, Christophe Roumier and Jacques-Frédéric Mugnier. His Charmes seems to be one of those wines that can't help but be enjoyable at any time in its long lifespan. The 2010s are already drinking well, and I can't stop thinking back to that stunning '92 we opened at the store. If the 2006 is just beginning to enter its prime, it still has a good decade or so to go.

The problem, as ever, is with quantities: These wines are exceedingly difficult to find, even the new releases. Bertheau only has .65ha in Charmes. Add on the fact that his wines with any age on them are all but impossible to find, and this offer represents basically the oldest Bertheau Chambolle Charmes out there (except for that tiny stash of '76 we've got, too).

To order, reply to or call the store at (212) 980-9463.

Ian McFadden
Director, Fine & Rare Wine
Crush Wine & Spirits

Burghound: "Here the nose is more reserved and while it's more elegant, it's not any more complex with a really lovely mix of red and blue berry fruit as well as slightly better mid-palate concentration to the medium-bodied flavors, all wrapped in a firm and dusty finish that is seductive, mouth coating and beautifully persistent. About the only niggle here is a very subtle touch of warmth that doesn't really detract from the overall sense of balance unless you happen to be extremely sensitive to it."