Tasted in Marsannay with Sylvain Pataille and Iris the dog, 16 April, 2019.
Domaine Sylvain Pataille
14 Rue Neuve
Tel: +33 3 80 51 17 35
I don’t visit Sylvain regularly – though I get to see him and taste with him often. As usual, he was in great form, and as usual all around us was semi-chaos – there were other tasters, arriving at different times, so sometimes I wasn’t sure what was in my glass – or even whether Sylvain was sure what was in my glass – but that’s a large part of the charm of both Sylvain and his wines; both they and he are great – it’s more about ‘being there!’
Sylvain on 2017:
Well, I’ve been here since 2002, and 2017 and 2018 together are the first consecutive correct volume vintages! 2017 started with some concerns of-course; we lost a few buds in Clos du Roy to the frost – probably because I keep a lot of cover-crop between the vines, but fortunately, I didn’t lose very much. This year, 2019, it’s still too early to tell with the frost – yes it was cold, but it was also dry and windy. I think we are mainly okay but it will be some weeks before we can be completely sure.
“Everyone can taste 2017 this year – we have enough wine! I think that 2017 has a suavity and salinity that’s super.
It’s true that Sylvain has had great renown for great wines – and for a long time – but literally from 2008-2013, each year he had very little wine, then there was practically none in 2016. Financially, there has never been an easy period for the domaine – it’s for sure that he needed his consulting roles at important domaines up and down the Côte d’Or. That he finally has a little breathing space will be great news for him and consumers of his wines alike.
First something of an aligoté-a-thon, then great, great wines, one after another. One of the best addresses for 2017s!
First some whites:
2018 Marsannay Chardonnay rose
Introduced as ‘rose’ but it’s clearly not rosé! ‘Chardonnay rose’ is a mutation of chardonnay that seems to be found only in Marsannay. Sylvain noted that he had these pink grapes amongst the usual yellow-green as far back as 2002, and since then he’s decided not just to propagate this mutation, he’s also planted them at high density – 2014 was his first vintage for this cuvée.
Hmm – a wide, but bright nose. Mineral, layered, good drive, faintly floral – indeed it’s just like chardonnay, except that the wine is more floral, but without crossing the line to become an ‘aromatic variety!’ I liked!
2018 Bourgogne Aligoté
‘Nearly ready to bottle.’ From 50-year-old vines in Champ Forey and Auvonnes
Ore depth of aroma, with pretty freshness. Fresher, more drive, growing intensity, mineral, lots of energy – ooh a jot year? Delicious and long too…
A very small parcel of 1930s vines from Sylvain’s grandfather, Pépé.
A nose with more complexity and vibrancy, extra mineral and more intense too – really a great wine – I love the blend of energy, complexity and intensity.
2017 Bourgogne Aligote Champs Forets
A little larger parcel that was planted between the 1930s and 1960s
A modest aroma, but it becomes much higher toned though. A wine with a big volume and lots of energy – mineral again. Super intensity… yum!
2017 Bourgogne Aligoté Auvonnes Au Pépé
More gas to this nose I think – wide, low-sulfur impression. In the mouth lots of tasty, mouth-filling, volume – I particularly love to the finishing line of flavour.
2017 Bourgogne Aligoté Clos du Roy
About 0.2 hectares that was also planted between the 1930s and 1960s
Some low sulfur aromatics. Full of gas, full of energy. Can’t say much more right now…
0.3 hectares of vines planted in 1949.
Popped and poured, and here’s a more compact nose. Ooh more direct, energetic wine in the mouth though, citrus zest flavour but much more than that – bravo!
2017 Bourgogne Blanc Le Chapitre
All chardonnay from 0.7 hectares of vines that were planted in 1955 – plus another hectare of pinot. Sylvain began in Le Chapitre with the 2008 vintage – (I still have some of that) “I had just 3 barrels from 1 hectare, a 6hl/ha a horror for the first vintage. 2009-2012 wasn’t much easier as I ploughed and broke up lots of surface roots – thereafter I saw plenty of improvements though.”
A bigger, wider nose than the aligotés, clean. Big again in the mouth. It’s intense, with waves of fine energy, really a tension here – super Bourgogne!
“I have an objective in life,” says Sylvain, “To make rosé as great as I taste in Italy!”
A faint herb on the nose. Full, energetic, a little fat, but layered, slightly saline – ooh – delicious and vibrantly mineral finishing. Simply great pinot rosé
Principally from vines in Champs Foret, lots of whole-clusters, ‘I also buy lots of grapes from friends…’
Bright. Such a hyper-attractive, fresh, pinot nose. A wine of drive, with layers of flavour, hyper-mineral, growing in such fresh and delicious directions. Bravo.
2.4 hectares worth of vines – the youngest from about 1980.
Ooh, such a large, more fruited, nose. Hmm, more density, but there’s still the fresh drive to the flavour. I’ll actually take the Bourgogne in preference today, but there’s more here for down the line.
2017 Marsannay La Montagne
Not yet bottled, all wc – ‘It’s one of the highest parts of the Côte de Nuits and a future 1er Cru, but it’s an oven in the summer!’
Vibrant, more mineral than fruit for this one. Depth of flavour, vibrantly flavoured, staining the palate, holding, holding… brilliant persistence…
‘I broke a lot of roots ploughing, it took years, probably 7 for the resulting fruit to have any interest. For a long time I put this in the villages, but now I love it.’
Wider, finer, a mix of fruit and violet flowers. Ooh, sinuous, fine textured – bravo – great wine.
Also vibrantly fruited, ooh this is so good. Drive, and still so much depth to the flavour and the texture – super fresh – this is even better. Bravo! So palate staining…
Ooh – wow! A big ‘poof’ of fresh florals and fruit – already brilliant. Drive, palate-staining flavour almost painful intensity but the flavour is so good that it balances the pain. A wine to make me cry – bravo is too small a word.
2017 Bourgogne Rouge Le Chapitre
‘It’s the best terroir of all these but it’s still classed as Bourgogne!’
Together, more compact, but also with great fruit behind. More volume – more mouth-filling, more tannin – a wine of much more structure. A faint touch of phenolic texture. The wine most to wait for – but with much to wait for!
The only blend of the domaine, the oldest vines, all done by hand, and will have 2 years elevage – ‘Not a single tractor-tyre in the vines in the last year – 1 ha done by horse.
Big, vibrant – yes! Mineral, waves of fresh flavour. Wide, a flavour that’s so fulfilling – I often prefer other wines for their extra purity, but not this year, this is very special.