Puligny Montrachet. This appellation has evoked the quintessential “Burgundy Chardonnay” for the last decade. The village, despite its international reputation, is quite small and sleepy. You don’t come across many people strolling around. But the essential is in the vineyards…
We often associate Puligny Montrachet as part of the “Golden Triangle” of famous Burgundy whites, which also include Meursault and Chassagne-Montrachet. Although for many decades, Meursault was considered the Queen of Chardonnays, in the last 10 years or so, Puligny-Montrachet has stolen that crown as market demand for Burgundy whites has moved on from the “richness” of Meursault to the “freshness” of Puligny…
There are quite a few wineries producing wines from this village, but only a handful are actually located in the village. This is because Puligny-Montrachet has water near the surface and therefore building underground cellars is a tricky business.
Domaine Jacques Carillon.
The name Carillon goes back to 1520 and a certain Jehan Carillon who cultivated vines in the village.
Fast-forward 500 years and you have a very worthy descendant who goes by the name of Jacques Carillon. Jacques is a quiet yet determined winemaker. From the age of 10 he knew he would take over from his father and was so passionate about the idea, that he never considered doing anything else. After graduating from the wine school in Beaune, he helped run his father’s estate (Louis Carillon) with his brother François. This was back in the 80’s and his first objective was to bottle all of the wines on the estate (at the time it was only 20%). It took him almost a decade to achieve this. During the estate division in 2010, he inherited his father’s estate with his brother François. He decided to go alone and created his own estate of 5.2 hectares (13 acres) with his wife Sylvia and of which 4.5 hectares were in the village of Puligny Montrachet.
Jacques has always been sensitive to sustainable development in the vineyards and has ploughed the soil, applied a reasoned agricultural philosophy (no herbicides, pesticides, or other chemicals) and is currently aiming for a HVE (High Environmental Value) certificate.
Jacques is intrinsically attached to his Puligny roots and knows every inch of each of his vineyard plots. The grapes are harvested by hand and sorted carefully. This is followed by a gentle pneumatic pressing of the grapes to help fight against oxidization. The must (juice) is aged in oak barrels for 10 months before being transferred to the stainless-steel vats with a small amount of fine sediment to maintain the freshness. The wine is racked during the winter and bottled in March. In total, the wine is aged for 18 months with the aim of producing wine the challenges ageing!
Jacques is undoubtedly one of the start winemakers of his generation. His wines are “classic” great burgundy whites, showing mineral linearity and remarkable tension. They are all about terroir expression and precision.
He produces a wonderful village wine assembled from 7 “lieu-dit” and covering 2.71 hectares: Les Enseignères, Les Aubues, Les Tremblots (on the Chassagne side), Brelance and Les Boudrières in the centre of the village and Les Nosroyes, Au Paupillot on the Meursault side.
However, Jacques Premier Crus are the most very impressive.
The Champ Canet covers just over 0.5 hectares and has vines whose average age is 42 years. It’s both floral and charming. It’s the easiest to drink in its youth but ages well with hints of tropical fruits (pineapple) to add to the floral notes. A very graceful wine.
The 0.6 hectares of Les Perrières is more complex as the bedrock with a dense clay topsoil. The 2019’s attack is smooth yet accompanied a finely uninterrupted energy. Beautiful mature yellow fruits, a hint of fatness and deep minerality.
Less well-known is les Referts. It is one of Jacques favourites, a combination of the attack of a Meursault Charmes followed by the minerality so typical of Puligny. It is both smooth and yet intense with all the potential of a Grand Cru!
His Bienvenue-Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru is seductive in both its creaminess and chiselled and a length that promises eternity!
Vosne Tasting Club is now one of the rare places in Burgundy where you can taste his wines.