The theme of recreation still does live on at Château de Nervers, all while they are making world-class wines. I was touring with a media group this past July, in Odenas, Brouilly, France, as guests of owners Jean-Benoit Chabannes and his charmingly delightful wife Tiphaine de Chabannes, at their château. (SEE MAP BELOW: Odenas is a commune in the Rhône department of eastern France.)
We had arrived at Château de Nervers in late afternoon, to enjoy what became a really delicious winemaker dinner, in so many ways…
PHOTO: left to right ~ Tiphaine de Chabannes, fellow guest Amanda Burrill, and Jean-Benoit Chabannes.
In the middle of dinner, one guest declared it was “the best winemaker dinner EVER!” The alcove was filled with boisterous laughter.
Later, when we took it outside, giddiness just continued, into one of the most vibrant sunsets any of had ever seen. Maybe it was the moment? I tend to think it was more the people and group I was with. This image has no saturation added to it. Awestruck, it’s exactly as we saw it.
Jean-Benoit set us all off into laughter, but then we were his easy audience all night. Fun loving, while living a wine life. What’s not to love? And, did I mention, he makes really delicious wines, too?
BACKGROUND OF CHÂTEAU DE NERVERS
Enjoy this images of the past I took, during this brief history of the château.
Located in Brouilly, Château de Nervers was first a relay hunting lodge, of the prestigious Château de la Chaize. Descended from a long line of nobility dating back several centuries, Château de la Chaize is among the oldest and most historic estates in Burgundy’s Beaujolais region.
This was at the end of the 18th century, where guests were welcomed to this château, on hunting days. In 1830, the current owner’s wealthy grandfather arrived. He had lent a large sum of money to the owner, who was a friend… and also a gambler. Eventually, the friend was unable to pay him back, and offered Château de Nerver to him as compensation. The estate then fell into the hands of Jean-Benoit Chabannes’ family.
Château de Nervers has now been a family winery for almost 200 years. Six generations have succeeded each other, until Jean-Benoît and Tiphaine became the current managers. Together they combine tradition and modernity, valuing what makes up their history and inventing what will be their future. For the first time in its history, the Domaine is managed by a couple who take care of their vines from planting to enjoying the fruits of their labor… Their wines.
The estate has about fifty hectares (124 acres), which are mostly in Brouilly. The vineyards are farmed by families living on the estate for several generations, and winemaking is worked by five winemakers.
Since 2018, Château de Nervers has been Terra Vitis certified; and it now achieved a “High Environmental Value,” for 2019. The yields for the wine grapes are quite low and acidity is not very high, allowing for the production of solid, well-rounded wines.
The late afternoon was warm and welcoming. As we stepped through the gate, I went back in time, to the days of guests arriving in horse drawn carriages. All over France, we saw glimpses of those mysterious days gone by… I write mysterious, because one can only imagine what it must have been like to be going from one bumpy place to the next, some in luxury, some in bare bones dusty necessity.
I dare say these carriages that arrived at Château de Nervers “in the day” were the highlight of the time.
We spent a lot of time outside, touring the estate’s grounds, before having dinner, enjoying sights, country sounds, and simple aromas of their terroir.
We sipped on bubbles in the process, as we listening to how Jean-Benoit and Tiphaine de Chabannes are really enjoying their good fortune. While it’s a (very) large responsibility, I’ve yet to see anyone so enthused about having so much to do, and still raise a small daughter in an old, giant castle. Imagine the reality for that child… any child, raised in a castle.
When we came into the winery, we first toured the cellar. This really became a constant theme throughout Beaujolais… cement fermenting tanks, all incredibly unique in design.
When we walked in, I could feel the cool, dampness, that held the blood, sweat, tears, and aromas of every prior harvest and fermenting. The past was the present. The present would become the future. But, it was so NOW.
How many people, who had ridden onto the property, had also walked where I was walking now, smelling scents of wine?
As we rounded a corner, the cellar opened up into another chamber. Silently, the cellar was waiting for a harvest that would begin within a month’s time. Anticipation was great, as this was during the time of a hot spell. Winemaking has its frailties, and intense heat is one of them. We were all nervously hoping for the best.
We then entered an alcove, where a causally set table was waiting for us, during the mid-summer’s night of heat. It was like being with family… We were all ready to sit and enjoy being in the company of Jean-Benoit and Tiphaine de Chabannes, to hear more tales and break bread.
Our dinner was comprised of savory, wholesome, fresh French foods, of duck pate, skewered cantaloupe with Jambon de Bayonne (or French prosciutto), French bread (of course) with fresh dairy butter (still mooing), and Mozzarella di Bufala with sliced tomatoes, olive oil and herbs. We finished with desserts. I had the raspberry cheesecake, others had and a fruit custard option. We all became very satiated.
Our dinner was paired with Brouilly Château de Nervers 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 wines, and a few more treats. It all just got better and better… Flavors, favors, and fond memories being made.
As cool air began to drift into the alcove, the sun was setting. One person walked outside, discovered the sunset, and within minutes we were all outside their gate marveling at the sky’s colors, giggling into the night.
À votre santé, Kelly Mitchel. And until we all meet, again.
And… Special thank you to Wine Business for publishing “Theme of Recreation Lives on at Château de Nervers” from Wine-blog.