14 December 2023

Burgundy Diaries – Day 8

By Jason Haynes, Burgundy Buyer

Pommard, Puligny-Montrachet, Volnay, Meursault


Day 8 began in Pommard with a visit to the young and energetic Joannès Violot-Guillemard, who joined the family domaine in the middle of the last decade and took over the reins in 2019. He works about 8 hectares organically, the split being about 75% red and 25% white.  

He is a big fan of whole-bunch, being happy to use 100% if he feels the wine merits it. He described 2022 as being a bit of a mix of 2019 and 2020, though I would say it has just a touch more focus and freshness than those two excellent vintages. He is very much part of the new generation helping to put Pommard back in the spotlight, galvanised by the recent warmer vintages brought about by climate change. Undoubtedly a name to watch. 

From there I headed south to Puligny-Montrachet for a superb and fascinating tasting with the very charming Franck Grux, technical Director at Olivier Leflaive. This Christmas, Franck will be hanging up his pipette after almost thirty years at Leflaive and passing it on to Solène Panigai. He will be sorely missed, having taken the estate to new heights during his time there. And what a final tasting this was: I tasted through 27 wines whilst Franck explained about either his work in the relevant vineyard or his relationship with the relevant vigneron if it was a non-domaine wine. A wonderful salty energy ran through almost all of the whites, and there were an awful lot of highlights. At the lower end, the new Montagny 1er Cru ‘Les Garchères’ was chalky and excellent, the Meursault ‘Meix Chavaux’ was as lovely as always, and the rare Chassagne 1er Cru ‘Clos St Marc’ was gorgeously energetic. I tasted the 1ers Crus Pulignys blind, and I had to admit that the Champgains really impressed me, though it was hard not to love Les Folatières. The four Grands Crus showed a seamless refinement and were a fitting epitaph to Franck’s work. They made a fine substitute for lunch! 

From one winemaker at the end of his career to one very much at the beginning of his, I then dropped in on Thibaud Clerget, who has 5 new hectares and a smart new tasting room to play with. Despite the generally bountiful nature of 2022, Thibaud kept his yields in check but pleasingly, with the new vineyards, there will be more wine available, which is a great relief following the minuscule amounts of wine produced in 2021. He used some whole bunches but did zero pigeages, sticking to one pumping over per day. There was some great refinement in these wines.

The day finished in Meursault with a visit to Arnaud and Catherine Tessier, a fun but hard-working couple who have been farming their 7.5 hectares together for the past 15 years. Some excellent Bourgognes here, showing real stoniness and saline qualities. There was also yet another fine example of Poruzots, though sadly the Genevrières is still ‘en vacances’, having been grubbed up and replanted. 

Photography by Antoine Martel