In 1924 Georges Roumier, a man from the Charolais, married a local Chambolle-Musigny girl, Geneviève Quanquin and as was the custom at the time, she brought with her a dowry in the form of vineyards – so was born the Domaine Georges Roumier.
The domaine was much smaller than today; Chambolle vines that post-AOC would be a mix of villages, premiers and grand crus including Les Cras and Les Amoureuses, and Bonnes-Mares too. The area of vines was relatively small so in addition to running the domaine, Georges also worked as the vineyard manager for the Comte Georges de Vogüé. Succession would always be complicated with seven children – 5 boys – But during the 1950’s the domaine started its transition to Jean-Marie, while eldest son, Alain, took up his father’s rôle at de Vogüé. Georges, however, did not fully retire until 1961. A similar transition began in 1981 when Christophe Roumier started working with his father, Christophe eventually taking full control in 1990.
In the late 1920’s, domaines such as Rousseau, Tollot-Beaut, Angerville and Gouges, (after encouragement by Raymond Baudoin of La Revue du Vin de France) began bottling and selling some of their production in the US via the importer, Frank Schoonmaker – Roumier also joined this group. It was as late as 1984 when, for the first time, all their wines were domaine bottled.
The understated domaine sits on the sharp bend in the road, next-door to Mugnier’s Château de Chambolle-Musigny. On the hill behind the domaine is a small village portion of vines before the wood and the hill towards the ‘combe’. I asked Christophe about the vines, but he said they were not such great quailty because of their exposure. A smart office fronts the domaine, but all the working areas, the cuverie and cellars, are behind the house.
Following the formation of the domaine, Georges also added a little Musigny under a metayage agreement, a plot which the Jean-Marie Roumier eventually managed to purchase in 1978. Already with a reputation for good wines, the 1950’s was a time of significant expansion for the domaine; Bonnes-Mares and 2 parcels of Clos de Vougeot (1952) and Morey 1er monopole Clos de la Bussière (1953) were added to the portfolio. “Unlike today”, Christophe Roumier recounts, “this was a time when the cost of a vineyard could be recouped in only a few years from the sale of the wine”. There was then a period of consolidation before Jean-Marie’s wife, Odile Ponnelle, bought an unplanted plot in Pernand-Vergelesses which could be classed as Corton-Charlemagne, that was 1968, planting followed and their first vintage was 1974.
Additional vines came in 1977 when Charles Rousseau negotiated the purchase of the grand cru Ruchottes-Chambertin from the fading Thomas-Bassot estate, a purchase that he shared with Dr Georges Mugneret, a third parcel was acquired by a non-winemaker, Michel Bonnefond. The Bonnefond vines since that day have been exploited by Domaine Georges Roumier under a metayages agreement. A similar agreement came about in 1984 over a smaller parcel of vines in Mazoyères-Chambertin where the domaine keeps and labels 50% of the crop. Finally some Clos de Vougeot vines were lost in the 1990’s when Alain Roumier took some of his share of the domaine for his son Hervé’s eponymous domaine.