Domaine Joseph Voillot, Côte de Beaune
This venerable fifth-generation domaine has holdings in the top vineyards of both Volnay and Pommard. Chez Voillot is quite conscientious with their 23 acres of vines. Yields average 36-38 hectoliters per hectare; harvesting is by hand with small bins after a selection in the vineyard, and further selection is made on a sorting table (the selection was especially severe in 2000, 2001, and 2004). It’s worth noting that their team of experienced harvesters has remained virtually unchanged for well over a decade. Vinification is done without stems and afterwards the wine is moved by gravity into barrel. In good years, no more than 30% new oak barrels are used for aging the premier crus, and SO2 is kept to a minimum.
Son-in-law Jean Pierre Charlot is now the managing director. He worked closely with Joseph from 1980 to 1995, when the elder man retired. For many years, Jean-Pierre was a professor at the Lycée Viticole in Beaune, where he taught several of Burgundy’s rising stars. He’s a meticulous man, and what interests him is handling the challenging years when the sum of the parts—the vineyard work, triage at harvest, and careful cellar practices—really pay off.
It’s immediately evident when tasting through the domaine's range that these are true vins de terroir (this is a grower who doesn’t like big oak or big extraction; this man likes fruit and soil). Each wine at every level reflects its origin. It is in Voillot’s cellar that the differences between the highly perfumed Fremiets, the earthy, dense, age-worthy Champans, and the elegant yet firmly structured Caillerets become crystal clear. Similarly, the differences among his Pommards are clearly delineated. Michel Bettane and Thierry Desseauve, in their 2004 Classification of the Best Wines of France, write of Charlot’s non-interventionist methods: "For many years, Jean Pierre Charlot has vinified some of the finest and most balanced wines of Volnay and Pommard…aging reveals with a high degree of accuracy the type of the year and soil." Anyone who wants to grasp the essence of Volnay and Pommard needs to look no further than Domaine Joseph Voillot.
The purity of Charlot’s winemaking inspired restaurant Alain Ducasse in Manhattan to buy six of Voillot's 2000s for a horizontal. That was an honor, for Ducasse had just opened shop in NYC and in those days offered only one horizontal at any given time.Les Rouges
- Bourgogne Pinot Noir: five parcels totaling 4.3 acres whose vines average 50 years old. They are primarily located immediately below Volnay Village AC vineyards.
- Volnay Vieilles Vignes: nine parcels totaling nearly 5 acres whose vines average 41 years old. Note that the largest parcel is Les Grands Poisots at 1.2 acres, which makes the most rustic wine and is bottled separately (and is not purchased by V59).
- Pommard Vieilles Vignes: five parcels totaling 3 acres with the vines averaging 51 years old.
- Volnay 1er Cru "Les Brouillards": 0.5 acre whose vines date from 1934 and 1945. This name refers to the fog that likes to hang out here in the early morning.
- Volnay 1er Cru "Les Caillerets": 0.34 acre whose vines date from 1984. Name refers to the stony soil.
- Volnay 1er Cru Les Champans: 4.2 acres whose vines date from 1934, 1971, and 1985. Champans is down slope in the premier cru band and its wine typically has more fruit and power than other Voillot Volnays.
- Volnay 1er Cru Les Fremiets: 1.5 acres whose vines date from 1932, 1950, and 1978. This parcel is up slope, and the wine is very calcaire, or limestony—you taste the stone in this elegant, intensely perfumed wine. It’s Voillot’s most quintessential Volnay, but paradoxically the vineyard borders the Pommard AC.
- Volnay 1er Cru Carelle sous la Chapelle: With the 2011 vintage, Jean-Pierre purchased wine with his négoc license from two growers he has long known and respected. Both farm vines next to his parcel of Champans and in both situations the vines average 50-years-old. Carelle sous la Chapelle grows adjacent to Champans and shares its fruity, earthy profile with the addition of a lovely floral note. Three barrels were purchased immediately following the vinification and the élevage was done in the Voillot cellars.
- Volnay 1er Cru Taillepieds: This is the second négoc wine, two barrels purchased right after the vinification and raised in the Voillot cellars. Taillepieds is up slope, just across the route national from Champans, and is a more elegant, structured and stony wine that pays off handsomely with bottle age.
- Pommard 1er Cru Les Epenots: 0.43 acre whose vines date from 1961. These vines are in Les Petits Epenots.
- Pommard 1er Cru Clos Micault: 0.34 acre whose vines date from 1958. This is the original Voillot family vineyard, purchased in 1870.
- Pommard 1er Cru Les Pezerolles: 1 acre whose vines date from 1963. This vineyard grows north of Pommard on the shoulder above the Epenots field, and the wine is notable for its spice, balance, and length.
- Pommard 1er Cru Les Rugiens: 0.62 acre whose vines date from 1959. This parcel is located entirely in Rugiens en bas, south of Pommard. Voillot’s Rugiens was one of seven 2007 red Burgundies awarded a five star review in Decanter (February 2009): "White flower, perfume, streamlined and harmonious. Neatly-woven, silky-textured, elegant palate with a long, fragrant finish."
- Meursault Les Chevalières (lieu-dit): 0.37 acre whose vines date from 1979. These vines grow high on the western slope above Meursault, giving the wine a stony elegance. In a normal year, three barrels are made, one of which (25 cases) is sent to the USA.
- Meursault 1er Cru Les Cras: 0.34 acre whose vines date from 1963 and 1980. This parcel grows immediately north of Meursault, below the road heading over the pass to Auxey-Duresses. The Santenots vineyards are close by and the soils are relatively heavy here, making for a wine of rich substance and longevity. In a normal year, three barrels are made, one of which is sent to the USA.