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Burgundy, ancient and revered as it is, has been one of the most dynamic exciting regions in the world over the last ten years. In the 1990s and earlier there was only a small handful... Read More
Burgundy, ancient and revered as it is, has been one of the most dynamic exciting regions in the world over the last ten years. In the 1990s and earlier there was only a small handful of producers that you could count on. Those producers -- we're talking Armand Rousseau, Coche-Dury and the like -- are now out of reach for most of us. Back then, Burgundy went through an uneven period when many red wines were made with too much new oak and extraction, and many white wines were made to taste good on release but without the classic staying power in the cellar.
But at some point in the second half of the last decade, things really turned around. Great new producers emerged and lots of existing producers upped their game and started making much better wines. In this latter, "most improved" category, we put Jean-Marc Pillot at the every top.
Pillot is blessed with some of the finest vineyard sites in Chassagne Montrachet. But like most producers, as recently as 10-12 years ago he used too much "battonage" (basically stirring up the lees in the vat). This added richness to the wine but has also been associated with premature oxidation. At some point along the way, he had an epiphany: he stopped with the battonage and started to make wines in the "reductive" (i.e., not oxidative) style associated with Jean-Marc Roulot.
And it worked. The improvement in quality has been more dramatic here than almost anywhere else in Burgundy. The consistency is incredible and there have been none of the issues with premature oxidation that others have continued to experience as recently as 2008 and 2010.
They are still rich and wonderful examples of Chardonnay, with a little more generosity than you get in Roulot's wines. But now they have more chisel, more crystalline qualities, more terroir expression. And they age beautifully!