A new departure
When Claire joined the estate, Christian handed over some responsibilities, but nonetheless remained a strong presence. Gradually, the daughters worked their way into the fabric of life on the estate, starting their own gentle revolution. Perched at the wheel of a high-clearance tractor, both Christine and Claire would attract the odd stare by those surprised to see women doing this work. Some even stop to take pictures! They just find this amusing, and move forward together through thick and thin, convinced that working as a pair is a guarantee of regularity and stability for the future of the estate. A new team, a new departure, a new approach: The estate took a fresh direction in the 1990s. Renamed Gavignet-Béthanie Christian et Filles, it was rejuvenated with fresh ideas. Christine and Claire introduced the first “green harvests”, when some of the unripe bunches are removed to improve those remaining. They also began removing suckers and excess buds, which results in better spaced growth on the vine and nicer bunches. After a few vintages, they finally managed to convince their father of the benefits of certain practices, notably deleafing. Christine and Claire had just one aim in mind: Quality.
At the end of 2003, Christian Gavignet died following a long illness. Michèle handed over the vine and winemaking part of the business to her daughters, to concentrate exclusively on marketing the estate’s wines. The team had already been strengthened by the arrival of Jean-Noël, Claire’s husband, and was now more solid than ever. Even Christine’s husband, Didier, who has a career in sport, now participates in the strategic decisions of the family company. There is also a helping hand from neighbors and other winemakers in the village. The daily life of the daughters is dictated by estate’s needs: The vines in the morning, with afternoons spent in the office dealing with administrative matters and customer orders. Christine and Claire are now women of experience. Since their first vintage in 2001, they have continually kept the estate up-to-date with current trends, without turning their backs on tradition. You just have to look at the atmosphere during the harvests at Gavignet-Béthanie to get an idea of their approach.
Winegrowers at one with the land
After this intense yet festive period, work in the vineyards resumes. The estate no longer uses weed killer, but the soil is continually worked on a sustainable basis. Where the grass is turned over beneath the rows, small multi-colored flowers grow. The soil and the vine breathe. Of the estate’s nine hectares, seven are picked by hand, and two are mechanically harvested. The daughters pull up any vines that are too old and replant. Christine and Claire, the fourth generation at the estate, are on home turf and are proud of the work accomplished, vintage after vintage, even if they never take anything for granted. As they always say: “We can always do better.”
Assuredly feminine wines
With Grandpa Marcel, Grandpa Gaby, Christian, Michèle, Christine then Claire, the estate’s wines have changed temperament. One might say they have taken on a greater femininity. Some would say this is only logical, but not necessarily. For the daughters, these are above all the kind of wines they appreciate and enjoy making. Deep aromas, very forthright fruit, crispness and balance: The wines of the Gavignet-Béthanie estate are quite the opposite of a wine that tries to win over through its power. They are aged in oak – part new, part old – for 12 to 18 months depending on the wine and the year, and are then bottled on site at Nuits-Saint-Georges by Christine and Claire. Two years after the harvest, they will delight the estate’s regular customers and lovers of Burgundy wine in general. With their whites, reds, rosés and sparkling, the sisters behind Gavignet-Béthanie now offer their own interpretation of the Côte de Nuits.