The easy story to tell about about Domaine de Villaine in Bouzeron is to start with owner Aubert de Villaine's day job. For decades de Villaine has directed operations at what is perhaps the most cherished wine estate on earth, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti in Vosne Romanée. Aubert is a far more humbled man than his title would suggest. In the 1970's he and his wife chose to settle in the more pastural Côte Chalonnaise, 40 minutes south of DRC's winery in the heart of the Côte de Nuits.
Aubert knew the history in this region was rich, with vines planted by the monks as far back as the 12th century. Since 1971 de Villaine has been studying the land here and producing wines with the same rigor and focus that's been applied to DRC.Bouzeron is home to Aligoté, Rully to his Chardonnay, and Mercurey to Pinot Noir. Even with their wild popularity within some circles they still remain a relative secret. Allocations are smaller than I'd like, but the opportunity to offer any wines from Burgundy's ultimate champion is a privilege.
I went all-in on the whites from old vines planted in Rully for the classic 2014 vintage.With the release of the powerful and concentrated 2015 vintage I knew the results from his old vine Pinot Noir would be spectacular. It's in these more luscious and exuberant years that Côte Chalonnaise Pinot Noir rivals its famed northern neighbors.
Les Montots is 1.6 hectare parcel of Pinot Noir vines ranging in age from 40-50 years. Similar to at DRC, a high proportion of whole clusters is used for fermentation. In these warm and dry years that percentage is taken to its maximum. De Villaine also here employs open-top wooden cuves for fermentation of his reds.
If Mercurey is commonly dominated by bright red cherry fruit, in 2015 there's a deeper and more brambly expression of Pinot Noir. One with a great concentration of sweet spices and a powerful finish that brings a sense of completeness more in line with what's found from top terroir in the Côte de Nuits.
Aubert has been Burgundy's most ardent ambassador. His work through the last decade to convince the United Nation's Unesco organization to grant the 1,247 climats of Burgundy as a World Heritage site was rewarded in 2015. While Aubert's legacy will be most tied to this long overdue accomplishment and the fabled DRC domaine, it's his home estate in Bouzeron that ultimately reflect his humble yet profound character.
2015 De Villaine Mercurey Rouge Les Montots
$52 per bottle.
2014 E & P De Villaine Bourgogne Blanc Côte Chalonnaise Les Clous Aimé
$37 per bottle.
2014 A & P De Villaine Rully Blanc Les Saint Jacques
$43 per bottle.