François Raquillet, the 11th generation of grape growers in Mercurey, has 10 hectares of superbly sited, mostly old, vines. He believes in low yields, mature (rather than super-ripe) fruit and a severe selection at the sorting table. The depth, richness and concentration which characterise his wines are a result of this, rather than any over extraction.
The Mercurey Blanc “La Brigadière” is a delicious revelation, from 25 year old vines and vinified in 400ltr. demi-muids (20% new).
The wine is pale straw in appearance with a taut, mineral driven nose reflecting the limestone soils of the vineyards. The palate is full and dry with notes of dried fruits and honey. A wine of great finesse rather than power.
Saint-Aubin is a real hidden gem tucked up the valley behind the Montrachets, Puligny and Chassagne.
The day-to-day running of this fine 12 hectare domaine is now in the highly capable hands of Gérard’s two daughters, Anne & Isabelle. Their technical training has resulted in fresher, purer wines with precise flavours. All the wines are barrel-fermented.
Champ Tirant is a splendid vineyard on the edge of the village adjacent to 1er Cru “Les Castets” and is vinified with the same care and attention in 25% new barrels. It has ripe, honeyed fruit, a fine, generous texture and excellent balancing acidity.
Gilles and Nathalie Fèvre met at university where they both qualified as oenologists. Gilles’ great grandfather began growing grapes and making wine in and around the village of Fontenay-Près-Chablis over a hundred years ago.
Today, they own 40 hectares of vines – all planted on Kimmeridgian limestone – throughout the region. The vines are mainly aged between 25 and 35 years although some date back to when Gilles’s greatgrandfather ran the domaine.
Gilles is in charge of viticulture. The finest possible grapes are grown with a fastidious, environmentally conscious approach to quality, lower yields and scrupulous selection. Nathalie oversees winemaking, where small, temperature controlled stainless steel tanks are used to vinify each parcel separately.
The wine is aged on its lees for 12 months – 85% in steel and 15% in old oak.
The resulting wines are beautiful expressions of classic, fine, concentrated, pure, steely, minerally Chablis.
Alain Gras has long been acknowledged as the pre-eminent vigneron in Saint-Romain – a village of wonderfully sited vineyards and a greater proportion of limestone than any other commune in Burgundy. It has also benefited greatly from recent climate change – meaning that previously overly cool sites, due to their high altitude, are now routinely achieving full ripeness and physiological maturity.
His stunningly situated domaine comprises 12 hectares of Saint-Romain (8ha planted to Chardonnay and 4ha to Pinot Noir). He has 42 separate parcels in all, but prefers blending the grapes from the individual sites to ensure complexity and consistency. The Saint-Romain Blanc, from vines which average 40 years old, displays an impressive ripe core of white stone fruits, expressive minerally, elegance, finesse and tingling acidity. After a gentle pressing, it is vinified in a combination of 80% stainless steel and 20% new oak and bottled after 11 months.
There are presently 26 restaurants in France with 3 Michelin stars and Alain’s wines are listed in 21 of them.
Jean-Pierre Latour has 10 hectares under vine in Meursault. Wonderfully sited vineyards, low yields, brilliant winemaking and no fining or filtration, make this one of the most exciting domaines in the village at present.
The Meursault Cuvée Charles Maxime (a blend of Les Vireuils, Les Corbins and Les Pelles) is plump, rich and generous, fermented and matured in barrel (around 1/3 new) for 15-16 months.
Jean-Marc is the fourth generation of this branch of the Pillot family to be in charge of this excellent, 10 hectare domaine. He took over the reins from his father Jean in 1991 and is assisted by his wife Nadine and sister Beatrice.
Jean-Marc’s number one priority is to respect the terroir he has inherited. The soil is ploughed all year long. Organic fertilisers are adapted to the needs of each vine and the specific nature of each plot. Sustainable methods are used to fight against fungal diseases with maximum respect for the vines and their environment. A true believer in the saying that “great wine is made in the vineyard”, Jean-Marc lavishes great care and attention on his vines: March pruning, green harvesting, and manual picking account for quality grapes that are absolutely essential for making great wine.
The harvest is done by hand. As soon as they are cut, the bunches are brought to the vat room and put whole into the pneumatic press. The juice goes from there to the underground cellar via gravity flow and is put into oak barrels, 30% of which are new. The wines age there under ideal conditions for 12 months after alcoholic and malolactic fermentation. Starting in 2005, Jean-Marc decided that the wines would benefit from longer ageing. They now spend 6 months in stainless steel vats before bottling for improved stabilisation and efficient natural clarification.
Rich ripe concentrated fruit (pear, apple, apricot and peach). Elegant and mineral. Good acidity and oak balance, peachy and toasty aromas, soft and creamy. Wonderfully long.
This long established Meursault domaine is run today by Vincent Boyer-Martenot, whose father, Yves, was renowned for his elegant, mineral driven wines. Vincent has followed in his illustrious footsteps and makes equally alluring wines.
Cuvée Fernand Boyer is named in honour of Vincent’s grandfather and is a wine that leads with finesse rather than power.
In the glass the wine is pale gold in colour with faint green hints. The nose is very expressive with fresh lifted notes of apricot, floral aromas and exotic fruits. The palate is rounded and layered with great length. Wood is held in the background.
Although their first commercial vintage was only in 2002, this is now one of the finest and most sought after domaines in Chablis.
The Domaine comprises 6 hectares of Chablis Grand Cru and 5 hectares of Chablis 1er Cru Vaillon. These are wonderfully sited vineyards which for generations have been the personal property of the Moreau family.
The family now have no connection or contract with the large and respected négociant of the same name. Christian, a larger than life personality, and his highly qualified oenologue son Fabien are making spectacular hand-crafted Chablis. All of their grapes are hand picked from vines which average 40-70 years old.
The Grands Crus are predominantly vinified in stainless steel, but also see some barrel fermentation and maturation – but never more than 5% new oak. These are brilliant, bracing, classic, minerally Chablis. They are now certified as organic.
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