While the Romans were responsible for the initial extensive development of the vineyards in the Cote de Nuits, after the collapse of the Holy Roman Empire in the 5C, the history of wine making is inextricably linked with the long period during which the monasteries became the dominant producers. From the 6C onwards, the local aristocracy, (to atone for their misdeeds), started giving land to the monks in return for promised redemption. The monastic orders took to wine making with alacrity (see 'Of Monks and Wine'), and several different monastic orders owned land in Gevrey, including the Abbey of Beze, and Saint Benigne de Dijon. However by 1275, as a result of negotitions conducted by Yves II de Chazan, Abbe of Cluny, all the land previously owned by different monasteries in and around Gevrey was held under the 'Seigneurie' of Cluny. In 1098 a group of disenchanted Benedictines had broken away and formed the Cistercian order. If this was a return to a more frugal and penitential existence on a personal level, the Cistercians applied an even more zealous approach to the wine making and in particular the categorisation of the land according to the quality of the 'terroir'. The Cistercians wore a white habit and became known as the 'White Monks', and their Abbey was at Citeau.
The oldest recorded land transaction in Gevrey is when the vineyard now known as Clos de Beze, was gifted to the Monks of Beze in about 630 AD. The cellars of the property known as L'Aumonerie at the foot of the Combe de Lavaux, are thought to date back to the 9C or earlier. The Chateau de Gevrey was built in the 12C and 13C, but on the site of a former Roman villa, and it is believed that many of the buildings in the old part of the village around the Church and the Chateau were built at or around this time from the remains of the Roman properties that were there before. During the course of the renovation works at Les Deux Chevres we installed new drainage, and it was with a degree of trepidation that we excavated the courtyard not knowing quite what we were going to find! It is known that in 975 AD there was a church in the place where the Church of St Aignan now stands, and it is thought that part of the interior of St Aignan dates back to the original construction. The Church in its present form was constructed between 1280 and the end of the 15C.
Rue Haut runs from the Chateau along the foot of Les Cazetier and Clos St Jacques. The properties are almost all occupied by vigneron - in the case of Domaine Henri Magnien, which is now in the hands of the 13th generation, since 1650!
The medieval wall that wends its way to the top of the Cote incorporates the small Chapel of St Jacques. The date of construction of the wall is not known, but in 1787 it was sketched by Thomas Jefferson on the occasion of his trip to Burgundy. On the far side of the wall just below the trees is the vineyard Estournelles St Jacques. Estournelles is thought to denote the presence of towers, and while there are ancient remains to be seen in the area, it is not clear why towers would have been constructed here. In the woods behind, archeological searches have unearthed traces of Neolithical habitation.
The White Monk by Laetitia de Bazelaire
The 9c cellar of Domaine Dugat-Py
L'Eglise St Aignan
Chateau de Gevrey
The Chapel St Jacques
Clos St Jacques from Rue Haut