Domaine Fernand & Laurent Pillot
The origins of the Pillot family in Chassagne can be traced back to the eighteenth century, when they seem to have been coopers more than vignerons. In the nineteenth century they abandoned barrel-making in favour of enlarging the property in Chassagne. Fernand and Laurent, who is the fourth generation, added to it again in 1992, and then in 2001 Laurent's wife Marie-Anne inherited half of her family's property, the Pommard domaine of Pothier-Rieusset, and Laurent and his father bought the other half. The domaine now stands at 14.5 hectares of vines across almost the whole length of the Côte de Beaune from Santenay to Beaune.
The Domaine is worked according to organic principles and are ploughed – no chemical weedkillers are used. They have also been members of the Dephy-ECO-phyto group, which works to reduce the number of treatments using copper sulphate, since 2012.
Laurent has always managed to pack in a lot alongside his running of the vineyard. He has a sophisticated microlight which he flies to all corners of France, he keeps and hunts hawks, and conducts the Chassagne brass band as well as dabbling in Mayoral duties - on top of being a father of three, Anaïs, Adrien and Eugène. They are all mad about the alps and disappear up the mountains at regular intervals.
Laurent's eldest son Adrien has been travelling the world making wine all over the place for the last few years having completed his training in Beaune. Bringing back lessons learnt in Australia, South Africa and California (and from a stint at Lea & Sandeman) - he now helps Laurent with all aspects of the wine-making and viticulture at the domaine. The wines have long been L&S favourites in both red and white - they represent excellent value, and they age very well too, despite being attractive young. The whites are precise and pure, and not lacking for body and generosity, while the reds are velvety and juicy, beautifully balanced even if drunk young on their expressive Pinot fruit. The domaine was rightfully heralded in Decanter Magazine last year as 'an address that deserves to be better-known'. Great value and real pleasure across their range.
2017 POMMARD Tavannes Domaine Fernand & Laurent Pillot
Plenty of dark fruit on the nose. Sweet dark fruit on the palate. Welcoming prickle of tannin. A good slick, plump feel. The acidity dances alongside the glossy fruit. No big oak. This is one of thePlenty of dark fruit on the nose. Sweet dark fruit on the palate. Welcoming prickle of tannin. A good slick, plump feel. The acidity dances alongside the glossy fruit. No big oak. This is one of the best Tavannes I have tried from Laurent. L&S(Oct 2018)
Domaine Thierry Mortet
The domaine dates back to 1992, when Domaine Charles Mortet was split between Thierry and his brother Denis, and Thierry set up on his own with just 4 hectares of vines. Today he has 7.3 ha, of which 6 are red and 1.3 white. Only 4.36 hectares are Gevrey or Chambolle, the rest being a small parcel of Marsannay Blanc and regionals - Bourgogne Rouge and Blanc, Aligoté and Passetoutgrain.Thierry continues to be praised in the French press without ever quite seeming to crack the influential American journalists. It may be simply because he is a bit short of fancy appellations - one little cuvée of Grand Cru would no doubt do his reputation a lot of good - but might also put his prices up, and these remain very modest.
In the vineyard, Thierry has been certified organic since 2007, but really this was just an official stamp on what had been the practices of the domaine since the beginning, and he is working towards biodynamic certification. In the cellar, the grapes are entirely de-stemmed, and given four or five days of cold maceration are followed by the fermentation, with just a touch of cooling to keep the temperature around 31-33C (below 35, at least), and two pigeages a day. The total time in vat can be as little as 17 days. The wines then go into barrel, all second use or older for the Bourgogne, with 30% new wood on the Gevrey, and 50% on the Clos Prieur, for a period of around sixteen months.
Thierry's wines are fine and precise, tangy and long, never massive, but not insubstantial all the same.
2017 GEVREY CHAMBERTIN Domaine Thierry Mortet
Pretty and bright in the glass. Fresh and perky attack. Nice crisp edge to the bright red fruit. Some grip, some drive and dabs of nice peppy red berries. Some strawberry flesh and a fine suedey rubPretty and bright in the glass. Fresh and perky attack. Nice crisp edge to the bright red fruit. Some grip, some drive and dabs of nice peppy red berries. Some strawberry flesh and a fine suedey rub of grip that builds and gives a cleanish mineral edge. Peppy Gevrey, lithe and bright. Drinking range: 2020 - 2025L&S(Nov 2018)
Domaine des Lambrays
The 'Clos' consists of 8.66 hectares of land enclosed by a wall in which there is the original milestone marking its founding in 1365, confirmed in the records of the Abbaye de Citeaux (those monks knew where to place a vineyard). The Clos owes much of its current fame to the nineteenth and twentieth century proprietors who reconstituted it after the fragmentation of ownership which followed the French revolution. Despite always having been considered a Grand Cru site, the Clos was in fact classified Premier Cru in the original 1936 appellations contrôlées. The Rodier family which owned it from the 1930s fought to regain its Grand cru status, with eventual success only in 1981, when it became the last of the thirty-three Grands Crus of Burgundy, although by then it had passed to the Saier family. Recently under the benign ownership of the Günther Freund and his family, who gave a very free hand to régisseur Thierry Brouin, who had been employed by their predecessor Rolland Pelletier de Chambure, the quality of the wines here has pushed up again. In 2014 it was bought by the LVMH group.
Boris Champy has now taken over from Thierry Brouin as régisseur, and the team continues to do a magnificent job at this monopole Grand Cru vineyard which is very well-placed next to Clos de Tart at the top of the village of Morey-Saint-Denis. The wines are opulent and rich yet still well-defined and freshly fragrant, and there's a tiny volume of top-notch Puligny too. 2017 is a 'New Classic Vintage' says Boris - and there certainly is a sophisticated charm to all the wines - classically shaped but with that extra bite of sheer pleasure.
2017 CLOS DES LAMBRAYS Grand Cru Domaine des Lambrays
Lovely quite aristocratic nose, petals and dark leafy aromas backed by sophisticated fruit. This is good, really good. A lovely gentle intensity, but with grace and yet energy too. Super drive. SuchLovely quite aristocratic nose, petals and dark leafy aromas backed by sophisticated fruit. This is good, really good. A lovely gentle intensity, but with grace and yet energy too. Super drive. Such fine dusting of tannin they are barely there. A seamless, polished wine but still laden with detail and character. Boris was fascinating about the details of his wine-making here. The wine finished its Malo early, by December 1st 2017. He thinks that whole bunch fermentation releases potassium and other nutrients that are good for the bacteria - and this accelerates the process. He thinks you should go with this flow - not try and cool the cellar and slow down the natural process. Whatever he's up to it is certainly working. This may be a 'big ticket' wine - but it is well worth your consideration as it will offer fabulous mid to long term drinking. Smart. Drinking range: 2023 - 2031L&S(Nov 2018)