Profile: Jean-Marc Pillot


Tatsed with Jean-Marc Pillot in Chassagne-Montrachet, 01 February 2018.

Domaine Jean-Marc Pillot
Le Haut des Champs
21190 Chassagne-Montrachet
Tel: +33 3 80 21 39 95

Jean-Marc Pillot is the fourth generation to run the domaine of this branch of the Chassagne-Montrachet Pillots. Jean-Marc first joined his father, Jean, in 1985, taking over the running of the domaine full-time in 1991, aided both by his wife, Nadine, and his sister, Beatrice. But grandfather Alphonse – Jean-Marc posing, right, with the likeness of Alphonse – can also still be seen around the domaine. It was Jean-Marc who developed sales in bottle, and since 2007, all the domaine’s production has been sold this way. Today, 70% of the domaine’s production is exported.

Along with other well-known Chassagne producers, Jean-Marc is installed in the area called Le Haut des Champs where a cuverie layout could be specified, rather than run to fit smaller spaces in the village. The roughly 12 hectare domaine is actually one of the rare domaines of Chassagne which still produces 50% red wine – though only 30% at villages level, though that was also 50% in 2000. Jean-Marc explains “You only make good wine with good grapes and we do everything, by hand, to make sure that we have those best grapes – for example leaf thinning to get the early morning sun…

Jean-Marc on 2017 and 2016:
I’m happy to report a proper volume harvest in 2017 – not quite as much as in 2009 but good. We needed it, because in 2016 we lost 70%, and 3 crus were completely lost. Not that 2017 wasn’t close to the same; we burnt the straw and it made a difference. We started our 2017 harvest with the chardonnay, 03 September, a few days before the pinot – now that we have two presses it’s much better, we used to have to harvest the whites in the morning and then because the press was blocked with those grapes the afternoon was mandated for red picking – but now I can do it exactly as I prefer.

The wines…

I’ve admired these wines from afar and for a number of years – but I have to say that the precision, purity and minerality – yet with openness and tension – were simply to die for today.

Jean-Marc doesn’t like to use more than 30% new oak, and in recent years has taken to extending the aging of the wines in tank after 12 months in barrel, hence, virtually nothing is bottled yet – Jean-Marc will start in March. We start our tasting with the reds:

2016 Santenay Champs Claude
The parcel touches Chassagne, Claude Buzard and Pierre-Yves Colin also have vines here.
Deep, aromatically a little tight. Round and supple in the mouth with a little mid-palate tannin. A modest wine today – not showing lots. ‘They always need 5-6 years here.‘ says Jean-Marc.

2016 Chassagne-Montrachet
From about 2.5 hectares of vines in multiple parcels, parcels mainly planted by father and grandfather so vines of at least 45 years average age.
A more open concentrated fruit nose. Much more depth, with supple, silky texture, modest tannin, though not so modest depth. Rounder and more accessible than the Santenay today and very tasty wine too.

2016 Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Macherelles
The domaine has a little white here too – but there’s more red.
Lots of aromatic width – high-toned fruit. Like the nose, lovely width, almost floral. Very delicious wine.

2016 Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Morgeot
In Farendes
This nose is more airy, with less width and depth, but still an attractive nose. Ooh, this is open and fresh in the mouth, a little muscled, but multi dimensional. Just a beautifully complex wine. Yes!
2016 Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Clos St.Jean
Not the largest volume nose but there’s a very attractive dark red fruit. Ooh, fresh, beautifully textured – growing fresh complexity too. Like the last wine but with more depth of flavour. This is my new favourite – absolutely excellent!

The whites, and Jean-Marc is clearly enthused to talk about his 2017s:

2016 St.Romain Les Perrières
The only wine that’s already bottled. A mix of new barrels and tank, ‘I if find this works best when looking for the fruit. I’m always looking for delicacy.
Ooh, a deep and nicely vibrant nose. Round, a little rich, but with all the balance that you need. Citrus fruit, sweetened – delicious wine.

2016 Montagny 1er Les Gouresses
No new oak here.
Ooh a big burst of aroma here, fresh citrus and a hint of oak. Good volume in the mouth, some richness again, but here with more citrus energy. Lip-smackingly delicious in the finish. More than excellent!

2016 Chassgne-Montrachet
A delicious toast with reductive citrus. Wide, more concentrated, perhaps a hint saline – less directly fresh, but bubbly with energy all the same. A little more muscle, delicious again – just more composed and balanced.

2016 Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Maltroie
The only unfrosted vines, directly behind the house – unfortunately only three barrels – though from 70 year-old vines.
A little more compact aroma, almost silky, a gelée fruit. A little saline, very silky texture, wide not the most overt energy but still a wine that shouts class – really excellent…

2016 Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Morgeot
Also from Farendes
There’s depth and a little excitement of vibration too. More volume in the mouth, a little more energy and beautiful clarity and complexity combined. Long, there’s weight but no fat. This is great. Bravo!

2016 Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Caillerets
A mix of high and low vines, above and below the fault in the vineyard – ‘the fault is like the one that differentiates Chevalier from Montrachet.’
A bright and fresh citrus nose. More overtly, mineral, packed with fine citrus, fine concentration, a wine to meditate on, but with perfect balance. Super length…

2016 Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Vergers Clos St.Marc
From vines within Vergers that were planted in 1910 – 40 ouvrées, actually the climat is Pitangeret. Just 4 barrels from half a hectare in 2016.
A more subtle but no less captivating nose, slowly adding extra dimensions. Beautiful width of silken, lithely muscled pure flavour – almost a sizzling flavour impression in the finish. Another great wine…
2016 Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Les Baudines
Flinty, reductive, agrume and excitement. ‘The reduction is often here but its vintage specific, not climat specific.‘ Width on the palate, focused, complex, beautiful. This is more direct, the others were wider the first where I say that you should have patience – but what a wine!
2016 Corton-Charlemagne
Ooh, that is not so wide but the depth and freshness of aroma are top. Ooh, I’d say ‘Cistercian’ but I’m enjoying it too much – the flavour simply adhering to the palate, wait for a little facile vanilla to fade, but this is great CC!

2016 Chevalier-Montrachet
Near Bouchard. This needed its time during ‘at one stage the 1ers were ahead, but it is now where I want it!’
Vibrant, subtly reductive, reminds a little of Baudines – no new oak. Such a framework, such a depth of flavour. Excellent!

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