Still, after sneaking a leftover bottle into a friend’s lineup of $100-$150 Chassagne-Montrachet and Meursault last week, I can tell you with certainty that something special has happened to this bottle. Over the last six months, it has blossomed into a luxurious, complex, 100% convincing Puligny-Montrachet clone. Opportunities to experience Premier Cru white Burgundy power and elegance at this reasonable price are few and far between. I’m grabbing another case for myself and encourage you to do the same. This wine delivers on every level!
With an impressive diversity of Premier and Grand Cru vineyard parcels in Chassagne-Montrachet and Puligny-Montrachet, Jean-Marc Pillot is one of the most consistently high-achieving white Burgundy producers we feature on SommSelect. Pillot’s whites offer succulent and bold fruit that is always expertly balanced with deep, mineral terroir of limestone and clay. The one frustrating hitch to this otherwise uplifting story is that Jean-Marc’s wines are not cheap—and they only become more challenging to acquire with each passing vintage. In SommSelect’s first year of business, we offered multiple back vintages and new releases of Pillot’s top whites. Today, with the ongoing deluge of critical praise and industry enthusiasm for Pillot’s Chassagne-Montrachet bottlings, the flow of these wines into the country has all but dried up.
Fortunately, our early support still affords us unfettered access to our favorite “secret” cuvée from Jean-Marc: his top Saint-Romain bottling from a vineyard a few miles west of Meursault. This is one of three exceptionally limited cuvées outside of Puligny and Chassagne that Jean-Marc exports to the US. The other two (one from Montagny and a second Saint-Romain) are delicious, understated whites. This Saint Romain “La Périère” is the real star, however, and the only one that can go head-to-head with Jean-Marc’s Chassagne and Puligny bottlings (albeit for half the price!). With less than 125 cases produced—and a fraction hitting the US market—this is an outstanding, rare, and remarkable value.
Jean-Marc Pillot is the fourth consecutive generation of his family involved in winemaking. He began apprenticing directly beneath his father, Jean, 31 years ago. By 1991, he had assumed leadership of the family property, though is assisted by his wife, Nadine, and sister, Beatrice. Pillot owns and farms a dizzying diversity of Premier and Grand Cru vineyards in the villages of Chassagne, Puligny, Meursault, and others. Today’s wine is one of his smallest and rarest bottlings, and it comes from a small, organically grown vineyard in Saint-Romain. Rich in limestone, “La Périère” is renowned for its extraordinarily expressive Chardonnay. After tasting this bottle recently, my hunch is that Jean-Marc recognizes this vineyard’s capacity to produce wine that is heads above what generally comes out of Saint-Romain.
The Pillot family hand-harvested the fruit for this wine in late September 2014. Fermentation proceeded in a 60%-40% mix of stainless steel and oak barrels. Following fermentation, the wine aged on its fine lees for a year before being racked into a single stainless steel tank where it rested and clarified for an additional six months. Only 125 cases were produced. Pillot does not filter or cold stabilize to rush along the process, so his wines always retain a particular vividness and dimension that is impossible to counterfeit. While always approachable and generous in character, these are authentic wines that express their terroir of origin in clear relief.
Jean-Marc Pillot’s 2014 Saint-Romain "La Périère" might as well say “Puligny-Montrachet” on the label—it looks like Puligny, it smells like Puligny, and it sure tastes like Puligny. This is a gorgeous wine with an equally gorgeous appearance. Bright yellow apple and asian pear fruit are accented by white flowers, vanilla, and hazelnut. There’s so much power, yet such impressive detail—a remarkable achievement for a wine as modestly priced as this. This wine has really come out of its shell and promises to improve in the cellar for another 5-7 years. Still, I can promise that it is absolutely gorgeous today. After my recent experience, I encourage you to decant this wine for 2-3 hours before enjoying in oversized Burgundy stems. The contents of this bottle continue to develop for multiple days after the cork is pulled, so be sure to save a glass, or two, after its first night. Also, it is root vegetable season and this wine is begging for chicken. While the bottle breathes in the decanter, do yourself a favor and follow Martha Stewart’s simple and timeless recipe for roast chicken. Cheers!