The Grand Cru vineyard Clos de Beze in Gevrey Chambertin was given to the monks of Beze by a local nobleman in 636 AD - it is the earliest recorded land transaction in Gevrey. The size and contours of the vineyard are exactly the same today as they were then, only the enclosing wall has disappeared with time.
Even in those early days, the suitability of the land for producing wine must have been apparent. The Abbey of Beze was 45 km distant from the vineyard - a long way for the monks to travel to work!
The Clos, together with its neighbour Chambertin, are two of the mythical Burgundy Grand Cru vineyards that for over 1,000 years helped to make the world wide reputation for the excellence of Burgundy wine.
In these circumstances, you might be forgiven for thinking, that should you be sufficiently fortunate to be served a wine from a bottle bearing the label Clos de Beze Grand Cru, you would be in for a rare treat. Sadly, not necessarily. The vineyard has been divided over the years into multiple ownerships (now about 18), and the quality of the wine also depends on the work of the wine maker. But how it is possible not to make wonderful wine from such a blessed location? - a good question - but assuredly it is! In the words of French wine critic Michael Bettane:
"more reason to cry bitterly … . if it is mediocre or bad through the incompetence of the unmerited producer of the patrimony which they have the fabulous opportunity to possess."
And when wine professionals talk about the ‘complexity’ of Burgundy wine- it is really just a polite way of saying - you need to get to know who to buy wine from and who to avoid. Picking the right producer is everything in Burgundy.
The Burgundy Shop - cutting the mustard in Burgundy!