The history of the Chambeyron-Manin family entwines with the competing crops of Cote Rotie. Wine is largely on top now, in terms of financial and cultural return, but its ascendancy is relatively recent. For the Chambeyrons, vegetables, fruit and tobacco have been as much a part of their story as wine.
The earliest record I can find is that of Jean-Marie Chambeyron. Jean came to the region as a stone-mason towards the end of the 19th century but soon switched to making wine for the local cafes and bistros. He was one of the men who helped replant many of the prime sites that loom over Ampuis post-phylloxera.
His grandchildren Maurice and Marius went different ways. Maurice went into the fruit and vegetable business, a much safer financial proposition after the Second World War and his brother, Marius took the more risky vocation of growing grapes and making wine. He never lacked confidence in his abilities. The Chambeyron name entwines in the history books like a handful of headphone leads long in the pocket.
The majority of the Marius’ 4 hectares went to his daughter Nicole, who used it to start the Levet estate with her husband Bernard in 1983. He only kept a tiny parcel (0.5 hectare) to work himself until 1992, when he finally hung up his boots and passed it onto his other daughter, Christine. She continued the label, adding her husbI wonder if Marius decided to keep this plot after he’d given the rest to his daughter Nicole, as it was the closest to his house and as he got older, the easiest to get to and back from.
The winemaking and style here are very naked. There is no new oak, no destemming, the vines are old and perfectly exposed. It is not a heavily extracted wine, but one that has great elegance on release.ands name, Manin as a tiny concern of only 165 cases as a homage to her father.
Although there are 2 different labels in circulation, one of them is the same label that Marius used for his wines. Now the estate is run by her daughter Veronique, whose main business is the vegetable market in Ampuis.
It’s a simple operation, although one that demands a lot of work. The vineyard is just across the road from the family home / winery, and rises and curls around the corner beneath the Chambeyron sign erected by the bold Maurice sometime in the 1970s.
It remains wonderful value and a perfect homage to Marius, pictured above, one of the legendary ‘old timers’ whose sweat on the demonically pitched slopes kept alive these magical vineyards for the next generation, who found a market receptive in a way I suspect their grandparents could only dream of.