Trapet Pere & Fils

Burgundy, France


At a Glance
  • Seventh generation Gevrey-Chambertin estate and one of the largest holders of Chambertin (originally supplied to negotiants)
  • Illegally grafted vines during phyloxerra in hopes of saving their holdings and in turn, they helped to save Burgundy.
  • Among the pioneers of natural viticulture in the region and they continue to lead the way in biodynamic farming (along with pals Frederic Lafarge, Dominique Lafon & others)
  • Heralded for crafting pure, complex, and elegant wines from an appellation where power often reigns supreme.

The seventh generation Domaine Trapet Père et Fils is one of the greatest estates of Gevrey-Chambertin, with superb holdings in three of the top grand crus in the village, and a legacy of great wines that dates back to their earliest days of estate bottling. While the family have been important vineyard owners in Gevrey-Chambertin since 1870, it was not until the 1960s that they began to bottle a majority of their produce and offer their wines directly for sale to clients. Previously, they had been one of the finest sources for top négociants in the region, including Maison Leroy and Maison Joseph Drouhin. By the late 1920s, Domaine Trapet had become one of the most important vineyard owners in all of Burgundy, being the single largest owner in the great vineyard of Chambertin at this time, and owning very large tracts of Latricières-Chambertin and Chapelle-Chambertin.

In addition to their excellent holdings, the Trapets hold a unique place in Burgundian history as among the first to graft vines during phyloxerra. Five years after Louis Trapet founded the estate, the phyloxerra bug attacked the region. Insecticides didn't work. Louis believed grafting, which was illegal at the time, was the only solution and so he made clandestine trips in the dark hours of night to do the deed. The following year, Domaine Trapet was one of the only estates able to provide wine to the Hospice de Beaune. By 1888, grafting was legalized and vines were grafted onto American rootstock, thus saving the vineyards of Burgundy and of France. 

The domaine was known throughout much of its history as Domaine Louis Trapet, named after the founder, but in 1993, the estate’s vineyard holdings were split in half, as a new generation sought to make wines from their half of the family’s holdings (Domaine Rossignol-Trapet). The result was the Louis Trapet estate being renamed as Domaine Trapet Père et Fils and run under the very sure hand of Jean-Louis Trapet. As was the fashion at many top estates in the 1990s, Jean-Louis used quite a bit of new wood for his top wines at that time, but by the 2000s he began to drastically scale this process back. Today he is still making some of the greatest wines in Burgundy, with the vineyards having been fully farmed under biodynamic principles since 1996. As of 2009, they been certified as 100% certified biodynamic 

Today, the wines are made with an emphasis on elegance, purity and finesse. Certainly in the 1990's there was a period of a bigger, more extracted style which some collectors still mistakenly attribute to the wines of present day. This is certainly not the case. His extraction regime is much more gentle today than when he started his career. He tends to use pigeage (or punch downs) earlier in the fermentation and then moves to mostly remontage (or pump-over) once the fermentations starts and there is alcohol present that can more easily absorb the tannins in the must. Like many top producers these days, Jean-Louis also likes to use a nice dose of whole cluster in his fermentations. Though he tailors the percentage based on vintage conditions and the quality of the stems each year. That said, it is not uncommon to see 50-60% stems in the Grand Crus, and 30-50% in the 1er Crus, and a bit less for Villages (though the Cuvee "Alea" usually has more). New wood usage is judicious, certainly compared to their other neighbors in Gevrey. This means roughly 20-25% on village wines, 30-40% on 1er Crus, and around 50-60% on the Grand Cru range.

The estate is certainly known for its three great Grand Crus, though the quality at Domaine Trapet Père et Fils is simply outstanding up and down the hierarchy of their vineyard holdings. Their Bourgogne rouge is certainly one of the best in all of Burgundy. The domaine also makes outstanding examples of both Marsannay and Gevrey-Chambertin Villages, and an impressive lineup of premier crus to augment their portfolio. The domaine also owns parcels in three top premier crus: Clos Prieur, Les Corbeaux and Petite Chapelle. The Clos Prieur and Petite Chapelle plots are amongst the first that the Trapet family purchased in the late 19th century. They purchased Petite Chapelle in 1877, followed by Clos Prieur in 1893; the Trapet les Corbeaux parcel was purchased much more recently. Because these plots are relatively small, vintages with tiny yields they are sometimes combined to make a wine named "Cuvee Capita 1er Cru".

Their outstanding bottlings of Grand Crus (Latricières-Chambertin, Chapelle-Chambertin and Chambertin) are crafted to really show off their underlying terroirs. Though they may not be as "big" or powerfully constructed as some of their other more flashy neighbors in the village, in terms of aromatic and flavor complexity, expression of terroir, and aging potential, Jean-Louis Trapet is certainly in the top eshelon of producers wines in Gevrey-Chambertin. Like the man himself, there is an elegence, grace and purity to the wines that is haunting and rare in Gevrey. He is again creating the soil-driven and absolutely pure wines of his father and grandfather’s era. 

The Bourgogne rouge and Marsannay will usually drink well when young, while the Gevrey AC can use a year or two to blossom and ages very well. In fact, Jean-Louis sold us some bottles of their 1961, and the wine was drinking magnificently after a long 50+ years! In most vintages, he also makes a Gevrey Villages wine called "Alea". This is a blend of several very old vine blocks where he selects and vinifies them with a good dose of whole clusters. The Selectionées Capita bottling takes the best attributes of Clos Prieur and les Corbeaux and synthesizes them into a whole greater than its parts, working the magic of the three grand crus. All in all, Domaine Trapet Père et Fils is  at the top of their game today, and Jean-Louis Trapet is fashioning wines that are as stunning as any in the great history of this long-time Gevrey superstar. Frankly, it is rare in today's world of Burgundy to have an absolutely TOP LEVEL producer in the Cotes de Nuits that still flies under the radar, at least in this country. But such is the case with Domaine Trapet - at least for now.

In addition to his Burgundy estate, Jean-Louis and his wife also produce wines from her family’s property in Alsace. Here they grow Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and Pinot Gris. These tend to be dryer-styled Alsace wines, and are also produced from biodynamically-farmed vineyards.