Tasted in Bouzeron with Pierre de Benoist, 25th February 2015
Domaine A. et P. de Villaine
2 Rue Fontaine
Tel: +33 3 85 91 20 50
Directly across the road from Domaine Chanzy sits the domaine of Aubert et Pamela de Villaine. It’s a very discreet operation and that’s reflected also in its reception facilities – it’s really just a working office of box files, a few cobwebs and the occasional empty beer bottle – there are no pretensions here.
Aubert and Pamela bought an 8 hectare domaine in 1971 to call their own – and I assume it was a place of sanctuary away from the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti – particularly as that iconic domaine was still far from profitable at that time. Today the domaine is 21 hectares, almost half of which is the aligoté d’orée grape of Bouzeron. Organic and eventually biodynamic methods have been followed in the vineyards, with some certification since 1986. It is Pierre de Benoist, Aubert’s nephew, who since 2000 directs the domaine – Pierre originally hails from a domaine in Sancerre.
On stems, Pierre notes that “There’s a slight austerity to wines from Mercurey, but all our pinots retain at least half their stems – more if the vintage allows. How we ferment depends entirely on the quality of the grapes that come into the cellar.”
Pierre on 2013:
2013 a little atypical, we lost about 45% of our expected harvest, but only due to the poor weather during flowering. I think we have a slightly different aromatic quality in 13. Vines are something of the earth that aspire to the heavens – 13 is a vintage of the earth!
Bouzeron only got its villages appellation in 1997 but still today, it’s only for aligoté. Pierre notes that there’s also a little Santenay Passetemps and 2 barrels of another red Côte Chalonnaise in the cellar.
Regardless of the labels and the colour of wine in your glass, these wines are really about personality and character!
2013 Bouzeron Aligoté
This can also take a Bourgogne Aligoté label, whereas chardonnay and pinot noir can take Bourgogne Côte Chalonnaise labels. “Only 28 hl/ha, and a little iodé and saline because of that normally it’s much more chiselled and direct.”
Bright and fresh, pretty and high-toned with quite a lovely complexity below. Wide, slowly growing intensity, with a really beautiful mouth-watering modestly complex line of flavour into the finish.
2013 Bourgogne Côte Chalonnaise Le Clous Aimé
Chardonnay from multiple parcels in Bouzeron with a little more depth of soil, mainly south, south-west facing.
A more discreet nose, perhaps faintly salted below. Fuller, rounder, but with plenty of balance – good acidity. A mineral impression and good ingraining flavour. Almost a suggestion of tannin in the finish. This is very lovely!
2013 Rully Les Saint-Jacques
Not filtered, already a little tartrate in the bottles.
A little more warmth of fruit over a more mineral base. More freshness, more roundness, plenty of energy yet an elegant wine. Maybe not the length of the Clous, certainly not the length of texture.
2012 Bourgogne Côte Chalonnaise Le Clous Aimé
“I think the 12s brilliant.”
More depth and weight of aroma, faintly savoury. Fine, faintly rich-textured but with lovely acidity and quite some complexity. Again a hint of something tannic in the finish.
40 hl foudres are used for many whites, with their lees and no batonnage, all wood elevage, of between 10-12 months.
2011 was the first vintage with this parcel but it was hailed – so no wine. This is the first commercial vintage. 0.5 hectares for 6 barrels from old vines of a little more than 80 years old. (80%) two new barrels.
There’s a little oak at the base here, but the fruit is brilliant. Bigger, very mineral, there’s some oak of-course, some salt indeed like a salted caramel. But there’s fruit too. This is not an easy drinking wine – it demands your attention – and it has mine. Brilliant – I’d prefer a little less oak but maybe 12 months is enough.
2006 Bouzeron Aligoté
Super direct aroma, almost hinting at matchstick, super depth too. Sweet, quite round but with super acidity so nicely mouth-watering. Complex and with growing flavour and I really have a hard time understanding how it can be so long. Dream aligoté. How many of you have this in the cellar? I wish I had!
2013 Bourgogne Côte Chalonnaise La Digoine
Bio here since 1986, which allows us to achieve a maturity of fruit that we didn’t have before.
Not so aromatically wide but lovely exact, focused dark red fruit. Fresh but with some fat, the texture is rather silky in the middle and shows fine clarity too. Excellent in this vintage.
2013 Mercurey Les Montots
A little iron in the soil here.
A wider palette of aroma, again finely focused dark red fruit notes, even a suggestion of flowers. A little more structure, a little more intensity, a more velvet base of texture, very fine acidity flowing through the centre. Modest tannin in the finish but it is out-run by the fruit – discreet but super length for the label.