Launay-Horiot is the embodiment of the new era of Pommard driven by a dynamic new generation of winemakers who are striving for greater finesse in what has previously been an appellation known more for its robustness.

Xavier Horiot, affectionately known by us as Top Gun following a previous life as a fighter pilot, spent several years trying to stick back together the various parts of his family’s vinous estate before finally producing his first vintage in 2014. At just four hectares, the current vineyard holdings are much lower than they once were but what the domaine lacks in volume it makes up for in quality. A sizeable chunk of the estate is the village plot of Perrières, which lies just across the road from the 1er Cru Petits Epenots where the soil is primarily a mix of sand, gravel and clay. There are then two contrasting 1ers Crus from different parts of the appellation, Clos Blanc, with its white soil and mineral core, and Chaponnières, which sits just below the mighty Les Rugiens Bas itself, of which Xavier also has a little. Then, with these three 1ers Crus, the Côte de Beaune experience stops and one suddenly switches ‘countries’ and ends up much further north in Gevrey-Chambertin, where Xavier has a couple of great plots in Latricières-Chambertin and Chambertin itself.

Xavier is clearly an intelligent and analytical man and seems to have adapted to his new metier very instinctively. For someone so rational and logical he has a remarkable passion for the creative, agricultural part of his role. In his brief career as vigneron Xavier has flirted with the use of whole bunch but seems to have settled on destemming for now. Oak is well thought through, including which coopers to use, and the amount of new barrels used is astutely managed.  Xavier’s wines are an embodiment of the new era of Pommard which we seem to have embarked on, assisted by global warming but driven by a dynamic new generation of winemakers who are striving for greater finesse in what has previously been an appellation known more for its robustness. Critical recognition has arrived quickly at Xavier’s door and those who have yet to try the wines should see what quality Pommard is all about these days.

These 2018s are really quite lovely. Xavier kept a close eye on optimum harvest dates and began picking on 2nd September and alcohols came in between 13.2 and 13.6. Consequently, as a collective, the wines have a bright, vibrant, aromatic quality to them that works beautifully with their ripe tannic structure. Big success here.

Pommard ‘Les Perrières’
£185 ib
 – 6x75cl
£200 ib – 3x150cl

Pommard 1er Cru ‘Chaponnières’
£295 ib
 – 6x75cl
£320 ib – 3x150cl

Pommard 1er Cru ‘Clos Blanc’
£360 ib
 – 6x75cl
£385 ib – 3x150cl

Pommard 1er Cru
‘Les Rugiens Bas’

£495 ib – 6x75cl
£525 ib – 3x150cl

Grand Cru

£995 ib – 6x75cl
£1,025 ib – 3x150cl

Chambertin Grand Cru
£1,395 ib – 6x75cl
£1,450 ib – 3x150cl

Domaine Launay-Horiot
Pommard ‘Les Perrières’, 2018 

6x75cl | £185 ib
3x150cl | £200 ib

Xavier has just over two hectares of vines in Perrières and divides up his parcel into four separate plots so that he can micro-manage both the viticulture and vinification more precisely. Work throughout the year and picking dates can be adapted to the subtle nuances of soil and exposure within these four quarters, allowing Xavier to maximise the full potential of this excellent site. The assembled wine sees 15% new oak and shows excellent bite and freshness, both aromatically and in the mouth and with a strong volume of fruit and an appealing sense of purity. This is an exceptionally grown up village wine. Drink from 2024.

Domaine Launay-Horiot
Pommard 1er Cru
‘Les Chaponnières’, 2018 

6x75cl | £295 ib
3x150cl | £320 ib

Xavier has two thirds of a hectare of this excellent vineyard, which sits just below Les Rugiens. The vines are at least fifty years old and many older still. This is very fragrant, with an attractive gravelly freshness running through its spine. Quite taut, with a sense of elongation rather than instant gratification. Persistent and well balanced. Drink from 2025.

Domaine Launay-Horiot
Pommard 1er Cru
‘Clos Blanc’, 2018 

6x75cl | £360 ib
3x150cl | £385 ib

There is limited top soil here and, as the vineyard name suggests, plenty of limestone. It lies next to Grand Epenots just to the north of the village, to the right of the small road that takes you from Beaune to Pommard. The attack is sweet and charming before the refreshing stoniness kicks in and adds definition and sapidite. It’s a lovely mix of ripe fruit and firm structure with everything balanced and in good harmony. Drink from 2025.

Domaine Launay-Horiot
Pommard 1er Cru
‘Les Rugiens Bas’, 2018 

6x75cl | £495 ib
3x150cl | £525 ib

The jewel in Xavier’s Pommard crown from the part of Les Rugiens pushing hard to gain Grand Cru status. This is clearly the most robust and powerful of the three Crus, the fruit being darker, earthier and more broadly structured but Xavier keeps everything in proportion and there is plenty of vibrancy to lift this intensely concentrated wine. Drink from 2027.

Domaine Launay-Horiot
Grand Cru, 2018 

6x75cl | £995 ib
3x150cl | £1025 ib

Latricières is one of those cooler sites in Gevrey that has triumphed in 2018. It was the last vineyard that Xavier picked but that is often the way. four barrels were made (three new) producing 1200 bottles. Lovely savoury, floral notes on the nose with a precise, gravelly crunch. Plenty of structure and gravitas but no sense of burliness at all. Sappy, quite lively and nestling nicely on the deep red fruit side of the spectrum. Long, complex and remarkably focussed. Drink from 2027.

Domaine Launay-Horiot
Grand Cru, 2018 

6x75cl | £1395 ib
3x150cl | £1450 ib

Just three barrels of this wine, of which two were new. This is certainly more backward, showing greater sappiness and certainly more structural domination than the Latricières. It shows its class through the quality of its tannins which are sheer class. A mere infant currently but bags of potential. Drink from 2028.