Cote de Brouilly has a special terroir: “blue” granite is laced with volcanic porphyry, or crystallized mineral deposits. This mixture, combined with the elevation (AOC Côte de Brouilly is confined to the upper vineyards; AOC Brouilly is lower, and far larger), largely accounts for Côte de Brouilly’s highly scented and finely—fine is the adjective that comes to mind—concentrated wines.
Winemaking at Chavannes is traditional and simple, with little extraction in the modern sense (Pavillon’s wine could well be labeled the antithesis of modern extracted power). The alcoholic fermentation is done in cement vats, after which the wine goes into foudre for aging.
The link to Thivin: Pavillon de Chavannes was acquired by the Jambon-Chanrion family in 1861. Its history became intertwined with that of Château Thivin when Yvonne Chanrion married Claude Geoffray shortly after the First World War. Claude had inherited Thivin, then a small estate. Yvonne took with her one-third of her family’s highly regarded vineyards as an inheritance, and later she acquired her sister’s third as well. Over the years, Yvonne and Claude added to Thivin’s holdings with other land purchases, but the couple never bore children. Yvonne outlived her husband, and upon her death in 1987 the sisters’ original two-thirds inheritance reverted to Paul Jambon of the Jambon-Chanrion family, along with fifty percent of the land Yvonne and Claude had purchased over the course of their marriage. The remainder of the Thivin holdings went to Claude’s great nephew, also named Claude. Nephew Claude further inherited vineyards from his immediate family, enabling him to maintain Thivin’s volume.
The Art Deco wine label, created in the 1930s, was a product of that marriage. After Yvonne’s death and the restoration of the Chavanne vineyards, this label became joint property, and now it is used by both domaines under their respective names.
Chavannes makes two cuvees. The top wine, Ambassades, comes from 12 acres of Paul’s best parcels, and is purchased by the Quai d’Orsay for use in French embassies around the world. It is the last to be bottled and it is the most age-worthy.