Pierre Boillot inherited very old vines from his father in the Côte de Nuits and from his great-grandfather Henri, originally from Volnay, in the Côte de Beaune. Accordingly, tasting with the gracious and soft-spoken Pierre and his wife, Sophie, is an educational and often transcendental experience spanning the appellations of Volnay, Pommard, Gevrey, and Nuits-Saint-Georges. This is traditionalist red Burgundy at its best, and 2017 is one for the ages: perfectly ripe, elegant Pinot Noir with balance, purity, and great terroir transparency. Best of all, yields finally returned to normal after a string of challenging vintages, filling up the cellars for the first time in years. Pierre’s sixty-year-old vines in Volnay produce a wine of depth and finesse, laced with the ethereal perfume of flowers and sour cherry. Delightful today with some aeration, this bottle will not disappoint those who choose to cellar it.
Pierre Boillot is a rare master of both the Côtes de Beaune and the Côtes de Nuits–not only does he have the vineyards but also the savoir-faire and skill. Pierre inherited this domaine from his father Lucien, whose name it still carries. Pierre’s talent became much more evident as he took full control over this domaine, and in addition to retaining the original cellars in Gevrey-Chambertin, Pierre has instituted a rigorous revitalizing of the soils and vines in all of his vineyards. Every wine is a classic representation of its appellation–from Volnay and Pommard to Gevrey and Nuits-Saint-Georges, as Pierre’s work in the cellars is geared towards transparent, terroir-driven wines of purity and finesse.
In eastern central France, Burgundy is nestled between the wine regions of Champagne to the north, the Jura to the east, the Loire to the west, and the Rhône to the south. This is the terroir par excellence for producing world-class Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
The southeast-facing hillside between Dijon in the north and Maranges in the south is known as the Côte d’Or or “golden slope.” The Côte d’Or comprises two main sections, both composed of limestone and clay soils: the Côte de Nuits in the northern sector, and the Côte de Beaune in the south. Both areas produce magnificent whites and reds, although the Côte de Beaune produces more white wine and the Côte de Nuits more red.
Chablis is Burgundy’s northern outpost, known for its flinty and age-worthy Chardonnays planted in Kimmeridgian limestone on an ancient seabed. Vézelay is a smaller area south of Chablis with similar qualities, although the limestone there is not Kimmeridgian.
To the south of the Côte de Beaune, the Côte Chalonnaise extends from Chagny on its northern end, down past Chalon-sur-Saône and encompasses the appellations of Bouzeron in the north, followed by Rully, Mercurey, Givry, and Montagny.
Directly south of the Chalonnaise begins the Côte Mâconnais, which extends south past Mâcon to the hamlets of Fuissé, Vinzelles, Chaintré, and Saint-Véran. The Mâconnais is prime Chardonnay country and contains an incredible diversity of soils.
Trust the great winemakers, trust the great vineyards. Your wine merchant might even be trustworthy. In the long run, that vintage strip may be the least important guide to quality on your bottle of wine.—Kermit Lynch
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