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Domaine Jean-Marc Pillot Chassagne-Montrachet Les Chenevottes Premier Cru 2014
The domaine is dominated by its production of white wines but there are important cuvées of red wine produced here as well. Vineyard holdings are spread throughout the village of Chassagne with subsidiary parcels in Puligny, Santenay, Meursault and Remigny (to the south). This breadth of real estate enables the Pillot family to produce a stunning range of wines that put on brilliant display the intricacies of terroir in this southern tier of the Cote de Beaune. The estate's jewels are its premier crus blancs (Baudines, Chenevottes, Macherelles, Vergers, Morgeot, Caillerets, La Maltroie and Champs Gain) and premier cru rouges (Macherelles, Morgeot, Clos St.Jean), all within the boundaries of Chassagne Montrachet. However, one should not overlook several gems that come from less exalted appellations, such as the Bourgogne Blanc "Grands Champs", the Bourgogne Rouge "Grandes Terres", and the expressive Santenay Rouge "Champs Claude"; and, of course, there are the fine village wines in both white and red from Chassagne. Jean-Marc also accesses grapes in very limited quantities from interesting appellations like his Montagny 1er Cru "Les Gouresses" and Saint Romain Blanc “La Perriere”.
A Côte de Beaune village most famous for its beautifully textured and powerful whites, Chassagne-Montrachet reaches farthest south in the Côte d’Or, save for the village of Santenay. It has three Grands Crus vineyards: Le Montrachet, Bâtard-Montrachet and Criots-Bâtard-Montrachet. Le Montrachet and Bâtard-Montrachet overlap with and are (confusingly) shared with the village of Puligny-Montrachet. But Chassagne-Montrachet bears sole ownership of the Criots-Bâtard-Montrachet Grand Cru.
The beauty doesn’t stop there as the village has a great many outstanding Premiers Crus wines and village level wines. Most famous Premiers Crus vineyards include Les Chenevottes, Clos de la Maltroie, En Cailleret and Les Ruchottes. Also, village level wines offer many lovely examples of what Chassagne-Montrachet has to offer, but at more approachable price points and perhaps less demand of waiting.
The best sites in Chassagne-Montrachet have complex soils of sedimentary rock and limestone (with less marl). Whites, which are by law composed of 100% Chardonnay (as in all classified white Burgundy from Côte d’Or), have steely power, bright and concentrated citrus, stone or tropical fruit characteristics and attractive textures ranging from plush to tactile, grippy and mineral-driven.
There is some fine Pinot noir produced from the village. These wines tend to be high-toned and earthy, with wild herb aromas and suave tannins.
One of the most popular and versatile white wine grapes, Chardonnay offers a wide range of flavors and styles depending on where it’s grown and how it’s made. In Burgundy, Chardonnay produces some of the finest white wines in the world, typically tending towards minimal intervention in the winery and at its best resulting in remarkable longevity. This grape is popular throughout the world, but perhaps its second most important home is in California, where both oaky, buttery styles and leaner, European-inspired wines enjoy great popularity. Oregon, Australia, South America, South Africa, and New Zealand are also significant producers of Chardonnay.
In the Glass
When planted on cool sites, Chardonnay’s flavors tend towards grapefruit, green apple, minerals, and white stone fruit, while warmer locations coax out richer, more tropical flavors of fig, melon, and pineapple. Oak can add notes of vanilla, coconut, and spice (as well as texture), while malolactic fermentation can impart soft, buttery acidity.
Chardonnay is as versatile at the table as it is in the vineyard. The crisp, clean, Chablis-like styles go well with simple seafood, light chicken dishes, and salads. Richer Chardonnays marry well with cream or oil-based sauces.
Since the 1990s, big, oaky, buttery Chardonnays from California have enjoyed explosive popularity. More recently, the pendulum has begun to swing in the opposite direction, towards a clean, crisp style that rarely utilizes new oak. These Old-World style wines have been dubbed the “New California Chardonnays,” and anyone who claims they do not like Chardonnay should give them a try.