Domaine de Villaine’s Visionary Bet on the Côte Chalonnaise
by Tom Wolf
In the early 1970s, as Aubert de Villaine joined Burgundy’s most exalted domaine, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, he and his wife Pamela purchased a run-down domaine thirty miles south in Bouzeron, which they also made their home. As derelict as the property was, Aubert and Pamela grasped the exhilarating promise of the Côte Chalonnaise’s relatively uncharted terroirs, not only for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, but also Aligoté. At the same time that Aubert was overseeing the most prized Pinot Noir vineyards in Burgundy, he was also falling in love with what may have been the region’s most overlooked vineyard land. I couldn’t help but think about this paradox recently. My colleagues and I were meeting with Aubert’s nephew Pierre de Benoist, who now runs Domaine de Villaine, and someone likened the exposition and elevation of Pierre’s new Rully premier cru “Rabourcé” vineyard to the legendary “Cros Parantoux” parcel in Vosne-Romanée. While most vignerons would eagerly accept, and even encourage this comparison, Pierre simply deadpanned, “Or maybe Cros Parantoux is exactly like Rabourcé,” before flashing a mischievous grin. What Pierre playfully reaffirmed was that he, Aubert, and Pamela have been fervent believers in the Côte Chalonnaise for decades, not as a source of value-driven equivalents of the Côte d’Or’s great sites, but as an extension of Burgundy’s noble terroirs for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and arguably the very finest terroir for Aligoté. For nearly five decades, we have imported the domaine’s overachieving Bouzeron Aligoté and Bourgognes which perennially outclass many of the region’s more prestigious growths. More recently, Pierre doubled down on his faith in the Côte Chalonnaise by purchasing several hectares of Rully premier cru vineyards just south of Bouzeron. In terms of drinkability, complexity, terroir transparency, and longevity, the whites and reds below clearly prove that Burgundy’s unmatched greatness continues south past the Côte d’Or.
Domaine de Villaine France | Burgundy | Rully
Rabourcé is considered one of the top premiers crus in Rully. Its old vines sit on a steep clay and limestone slope and yield a complex, powerful white Burgundy.
Domaine de Villaine France | Burgundy
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