Monthly Archives: September 2015

A visit to Domaine Jacques Carillon in 2015: A passionate winemaker of amazing precision

The Carilion family has a very long history as a top domaine in Puligny Montrachet, but always a little under the radar. Their family trace back to early 16th Century. Since 2010 the two brothers split the vineyards of their father, so now there are two Carillion domaines; one headed by Jacques Carillion and the other by his brother Francois Carillion just next door. We have previously met a couple of times with Francois, but this was our first visit with Jacques.

Unfortunately our lacking language skills made the dialog quite basic, but Jacques found ways to get across the most important information. Jacques is a rather careful and very polite man but when we talk about his wines and the vineyards a spark is lit and he gets very engaged.

In short, their main focus is on the work in the 5,5 ha vineyards where they are inspired by organic methods, but they have not taken the step to a full implementation and certification. They prune short in winter, green harvest is used when necessary and they cut their vines rather high to give them more sun to render more energy into the grapes. In general Jacques is careful with the usage of new oak, only 15-20% which is less than his brother and lightly toasted, since he wants the wines to convey the terroir and vintage and just enhance and round off the grape juice. He ages the wines for one year on the lees. Except for making honest wines that reflect its origins, he likes his wine to be about deep minerality and body. For the latter he does some batonage, but very, very carefully.

Wines tasted

2013 Domaine Jacques Carillon “village”, Puligny-Montrachet – Barrel

Very pure and fresh expression on this wine that feels classic for the region. Very crisp and with lots of minerals but also a precise and energetic acidity. Some white flower and young fruit show up after a while.

This is a precise and pretty wine for a village level.

88p/100

2013 Domaine Jacques Carillon 1er cru “Les Champs Canet”, Puligny-Montrachet Premier Cru – Barrel

Their vines are mid slope in the vineyard. 20 % new oak on the lees.

The wine is extremely floral with lilies, white flowers but also fresh notes of gooseberries. There is a burst of freshness from an amazing acidity with notes for lime, gooseberries and lemon. Lots of minerals and texture is creamy and thick. A very fresh and precise wine with medium full body. Quite persistent too.

90-91p/100

2013 Domaine Jacques Carillon 1er cru Les Pèrrieres, Puligny-Montrachet – Barrel

Andreas:

Very precise and fresh nose with citrus, tropical fruit, mainly passion fruit, amazingly minerals and, after a while, a beautiful perfume. The palate is infused with minerals and has a juicy lime acidity to carry the quite dense multi layered fruit.

The wine is all about finesse and precision but also has a quite generous side to it.

93p/100

Sir Galahad:

On the nose, elegant perfume, citrus shells. Fine, fresh water-stains of delicate minerals.

Very fine structure and impressive precision. Chalk and mineral embedded citrus and passion fruit with really good precision and purity. Starts off narrow but with a distinct direction and then half way, it fires off its aromas and nectar in the very pure and persistent finish.

94-95p/100

2013 Domaine Jacques Carillon 1er cru “Les Referts”, Puligny-Montrachet – Barrel

Expressive and generous nose with an abundance of ripe tropical fruit, but with less citrus. A fresh expression from minerals in a very subtle and clean.  Just dive into the nose.

On the palate there is a soft but fresh acidity combined with an abundance of mineral-coated passion fruit and burned almonds. Fruit is dense and juicy but never too heavy. In the end we get a long and broad finish.

This is a wine that does not hold back its generosity, but still manages to stay focused with high concentration. Some resemblance to the fleshiness in Mersault in here too. Very good.

93p/100

2013 Domaine Jacques Carillon 1er cru “Les Macherelles”, Chassagne-Montrachet – Barrel

Andreas:

Extremely pure and almost a bit watery with fresh nectarines and a splash of lime. The minerals cannot be held back from this wine and the acidity is very delicate and precise. A beautiful and quite laid back and sensual wine with a precise and quite citric finish which closes down the experience perfectly.

92p/100

Sir Galahad:

Fresh perfume of nectarines. Some chablis resemblance to the minerality. A very delicate and fresh nose indeed.

Some nettles, an abundance of ripe lime fruit, chess nut and passion fruit. Packed with a variety of fresh aromas embedded in a thin layer of chalky minerals as well as great, crisp acidity and impressive precision.

94p/100

2013 Domaine Jacques Carillon Bienvenues-Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru – Barrel

One barrel only. Normally two.

In the beginning the nose is quite light and delicate but still quite expressive and it opened up after a while in the glass. Hints of beeswax, nuts, dried honey and some white flower in a complex and elegant nose.

The palate is more expressive and shows dense fruit, fresh and vibrant minerals and a quite citric and fresh acidity. Lime-infused aromas of passion fruit, honey and gooseberries dominate the palate. The minerals stays in a long energetic finish together with some lime notes. Unexpectedly, the precision here is not as good as in Les Pèrriers. Might be that it requires more time.

94-95p/100

2012 Domaine Jacques Carillon “Village”, Puligny-Montrachet

This is a quite fleshy and voluptuous wine with pineapple, bananas and white flower on both nose and palate. A quite soft acidity carries the fruit just enough to keep some energy and freshness.

Very accessible already and should not be saved for long. Hard not to like this flirtations wine.

88p/100

2012 Domaine Jacques Carillon 1er cru “Les Pèrrieres”, Puligny-Montrachet

Very accessible wine with an abundance of fruit, mainly tropical, and some slight beeswax and nuts. The wine does not have the minerals and details of the 2013. On the palate this is a generous and seductive wine and the quite dense fruit is saved by a fresh acidity. Anyone would enjoy this wine and there is lots to find on the palate that leans to a tone of champagne.

92+p/100

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Andreas and Jacques

Summary

The wines of Jacques Carillion are all about precision and a crisp expression with an obvious transparency of the very unique terroir in Puligny-Montrâchet, site variation among crus and each vintage. You never find any oak contributions in Jacques wines and it takes a fleshy vintage to get some more round notes. We sometimes lack a little complexity for absolute top scores but the average level is certainly high. Surprisingly, the 1er cru Les Pèrriers outshined the grand cru  Bâtard-Montrâchet in the 2013 vintage in terms of precision and elegance, at least at this tasting. It also has to be said that this was the first time we tried the wines from Jacques Carillion and it definitely sparked an interest and confirmed that this is a producer worth following closely. Like his brother, both show how the greatest whites of chardonnay truly thrives in complex soil packed with lime stone.

A very round and silky, but subtle Les Suchots from 2008

The age of most of the vines in the Les Suchots vineyard of Hudelot-Noellat’s parcels are almost 90. A very interesting wine in deed.

DSC038402008 Vosne-Romanée 1er cru “Les Suchots”, Hudelot-Noellat

Colour is translucent blood orange with transparent light-orange edges. Beautiful colour!

The nose is very closed and careful in the decanter even after six hours, but some typical rowan berries, distinct ginger, clove, white pepper, pastry, overripe red fruit jam, tiny notes of medicine cabin, but also very fragrant and intense red flowers combined with lovely and just a little sweet, seductive perfumes.

On the palate it is dominated by ripe, candid red fruit and there are notes of blood orange, ginger and some anise. It is slowly filling up to be medium-bodied and is actually quite generous if you can wait a day. Texture is very silky, supple and it is long with just enough structure to go all the way. At the same time it is a little thin and a little less complex than expected, but it possesses all the goodies and characteristics of this sacred wine area.

It is super-round and well balanced wine with finesse that Charles van Canneyt and his team offers in this vintage. Open in 2017.

91-92p/100

A visit to domaine Bonneau du Martray – The master of Corton-Charlemagne

With their 9,5 ha, Domaine Bonneau du Martray is the defining producer of Corton-Charlemagne and in addition it is impressively all grand cru too. They set the benchmark for everyone else in the area, but for white Burgundy as a whole in Burgundy from an international perspective, they are still a little in the shadow of Puligny-Montrachet. The family has owned the vineyards in five generations since 1835 and the name Charlemagne is the french name of “Charles the great” and derives back to the 800 Century, where according to legend, the holy roman emperor of western Europe fell in love with wines from Corton. However, the reds from this time are more likely to have been gamay and for whites; aligoté.

We met with the very engaged and expressive Jean-Charles le Bault de la Morinière back in late January this year on our trip to Burgundy and it was our first visit to the estate. We talked about everything from biodynamic farming to skiing in the Alpine village of Chamonix. The visit was both enjoyable as well as educational and not the least, we had the opportunity to taste great wines. A tasting at the Domaine offers a fantastic opportunity to do a vertical tasting across vintages of their pride grand cru Corton-Charlemagne for whites, since their range of different wines are limited to only this one and a small quantity of red Corton.

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Frederik and Jean-Charles

Jean-Charles tells us that they always strive to achieve a crisp expression in their wines and that the terroir and vintage should shine through. They employ only 30% lightly toasted, new oak to render the effect they want without oak sensations. He also gets very engaged when we ask about the work in the vineyard and he says that “Good wine comes from good farming”. This is all music to our ears!

Jean-Charles explains that they own 11 ha of planted area and a very small portion, only 1.5 ha, is actually red corton. He shows us on a map how Charlemagne and the rest of Corton is situated around the hill and stretches from Pernand-Vergelesses to Aloxe-Corton. Charlemagne mainly has west exposition, but still, according to Jean-Charles, offers a more rare variety of expositions for being in Burgundy and there are two climates making up the Charlemagne in the former village; En Charlemagne and Le Charlemagne. He emphasis the importance of the west facing aspect that offers enough sun but avoids the peaks of daily heat. Pinot is only planted in the richer middle and lower slope parts with less limestone, whereas chardonnay thrives at the top part with much more white soil of marls and a lime stone bed close to the surface with very loose top soil.

When Jean-Charles took over in 1994, quitting his profession as architect in Paris, the vineyards and the soil was not in great condition and he worked intensively for several years to re-vitalize the vineyards and to first move organic in 2003 and then biodynamic farming the year after. Since 1997, they stopped using weed killers and chemicals and he remembers that grapes got much healthier and better afterwards. Jean-Charles says that the moon affects the earth and especially full moon is very important. It affects the plants hydraulically, how it retains water and nutritions, its current state, etc. It is the school of biodynamics setup by Rudolf Steiner, which appears to inspire him the most, that among other things emphasis the importance of biodiversity and closed-loop eco systems. Non-intervenism in the wine making, is also a philosophy he is fond of. They employ batonage (stirring the lees) to add more aromatics from the lees and persistence.

In the vineyards, they control the yield by pruning in the winter and once more in April or May. His comment about green harvest is that it only indicates that you have not done your work earlier in the season. I only cut once in Spring-Summer, 10 days after flowering. He assure us that if you follow these principles correctly, almost always, the plant stops growing and puts more energy into the fruit. The fruit is simply better at harvest, he points out. In a normal vintage they reach a natural yield of 40 hl/ha.

j-c matray

The wines we tasted

2013 Domaine Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru

Approximately 75% of the harvest was damaged by hail in 2013.

Some rather gentle ripe apple peels, nectarines, floral notes and hints of flint appear in this quite aromatic and dense nose. The palate is lively and has some dense fruit, drawing more towards tropical fruit and wet stone character. Acidity is gentle but precise and it stays with us in a long finish with high concentration.

Very pleasant and already quite accessible wine with good balance and nice fruit.

92-93p/100

2011 Domaine Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru

The 2011 vintage was rather large in quantity.

The nose show lots of tropical fruits, mainly peach, almond, apples, wet stone and some flint. This is a wine that shows some resemblance with Chenin blanc from the Vouvray area especially in the acidic expression. On the palate the fruit gets a bit fleshier and we find a vibrant and almost a bit harsh acidity with notes of grapefruit, ananas and lemon. This is an exciting and aromatic wine, but a bit unfocused but should improve and integrate better with time.

91-92p/100

2010 Domaine Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru

The 2010 starts with a very slim and pure nose offering a fantastic freshness and restrained energy. After a while it opens up and reveals some green pears, white flowers, citric notes and just a drop of pineapple juice.

As expected the acidity is vibrant and precise, and adds lots of energy to this wine. On the palate we get the same fruit but with more citric notes, stone fruit and an abundance of minerals. This wine is all about precision, elegance and energy but it needs some time before it will open up with all its beauty. Jean-Charles, thinks it is too tight, but we don’t agree at all and rather say It will really be worth waiting for.

95p/100

2007 Domaine Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru

The 2007 is just as pale as the younger vintages we tried. The nose is sublime and light but eventually offers some apples, white flower, flint, crushed stone and tiny hint of pineapple. All of which is carried over to a palate that is more expressive and the pineapple takes a clear step forward. The finish is long, broad and dominated by fruit that gets rather fleshy. There is good texture to the wine and some chalky notes can also be found. Acidity is a little sturdy still.

A wine with two faces, an initial very tight and slim nose and a more fleshy mid palate and finish. It certainly needs accompanying food. A good wine when considering the vintage.

93+p/100

2005 Domaine Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru

2005 is a vintage with very little rain which resulted in a lots of substance. Right before harvest some well needed rain came. A very exciting vintage.

Rather dense nose with wet stone, pineapple, ripe nectarines and some notes of flint in the background. A wine that grabs ahold of you already at the nose. The palate is big bodied with a quite grippy acidity that balances the ripe, juicy and somewhat sweet fruit as well as layers of dark minerals and yellow pears.

The 2005 is a rather expressive and powerful wine that also has elegance with its mineral notes. We expect this wine to develop much more with time.

93-94p/100

Summary

A vertical tasting at Domaine Bonneau du Martray certainly proves that their wines are transparent to the vintages, but also that there are certain characteristics that are consistent and related to their philosophy as well as making a true showcase of that this certainly is grand cru.

For some of the wines we were surprised at how expressive and generous they already are at a young age, even though these wines obviously need time to evolve. We find a fantastic acidic expression with notes of citrus and pears that adds an energetic and vibrant personality to the wines. Being true fans of wines of Puligny-Montrâchet, we are sure we need to find older bottles to assess Corton-Charlemagne even further, since these two areas obviously are very different. In addition, Corton-Charlemagne on a grand cru level is obviously more price-worthy than its Montrâchet counterparts in many cases.