The number of wines we’ve recommended from the village of Pernand-Vergelesses, both white and red, seems to have grown almost exponentially this year. Yes, the market is currently well-stocked with the fruits of two great vintages in a row (the classic 2014 and the warm, ultra-ripe 2015), but, in 2015 especially, the vignerons of Pernand-Vergelesses have hit it out of the park on a regular basis.
Along with Marius Delarche, longtime subscribers are no doubt familiar with another Pernand-Vergelesses stalwart, the historic Domaine Pavelot, whose village-level white from 2015 is one of the most aromatic, beautifully constructed white Burgundies I’ve had all year. The slightly cooler microclimate in Pernand-Vergelesses seems to have worked in Pavelot’s favor in 2015—whereas many Burgundy whites from this vintage are round, ultra-ripe, and even hinting at the New World in style, this wine’s proportions are resolutely classical: this is a wine of great mineral depth, aromatic lift, and great tension. It’s a flat-out stunner, completely transcending its humble ‘village’ designation and stylistically suggesting a much-more-famous appellation, Puligny-Montrachet. The price-to-quality ratio on this one is off the charts. Do not miss it!
Domaine Pavelot’s history in Pernand dates to the 17th century; today it is ably run by brother-sister duo Luc and Lise Pavelot, who’ve cultivated a dedicated following since taking over the estate in the early ‘90s. Following their formal winemaking education in Beaune, they each set out to see the wine world outside of Burgundy: Luc in the cellars of northern California’s Navarro Vineyards and Lise at the famed Domaine Dagueneau in France’s Loire Valley. After taking the reins from their father, Régis, Luc and Lise moved toward organic viticulture, which was certified through Ecocert in 2009. Their winemaking approach is a mix of modern and tradition: they continue to hand-harvest into old-school Burgundian wicker baskets, but also embrace modern techniques, including moderate amounts of new oak for the aging of some cuvées. For Pavelot’s whites, the fruit is destemmed and pressed before settling into stainless steel tanks. It is then racked into barrel the following day in order to begin barrel fementation. The wine is then aged about a year in mostly used oak barrels.
Pavelot’s nine hectares of vineyards include pieces of just about every Premier Cru in Pernand-Vergelesses, which is often described as being a little “set back” from the long, contiguous, southeast-facing slope that comprises the Côte d’Or. It’s a slightly cooler microclimate than neighboring Aloxe-Corton, sitting at the confluence of three separate valleys, with a wider variety of vineyard expositions. This wine, in fact, shows off the village’s diversity of expositions; it is taken from two east-facing vineyards just south of the village, “Sous le Bois de Noël” and “Belle-Filles,” and from “Les Plantes des Champs” and “Combottes,” looking west, just north of and behind the village. Looming just to the east, of course, is the fabled hill of Corton.
In cooler vintages, Pernand-Vergelesses whites are known for their linear, mineral-driven character; the heat of 2015 rendered many whites rather fleshy and lower in acidity, and while many are quite unapologetically bold and delicious, the freshness and tension the Pavelot 2015 has maintained is genuinely distinctive. In the glass it’s a deep straw-gold moving to green at the rim, with a finely detailed, high-toned perfume of lime blossom, Asian pear, yellow apple, raw hazelnut, citrus, white flowers, and crushed stones. It is drinking impeccably now, with a terrific push-pull of creaminess and citrusy tang and a long, floral finish. I popped a bottle of this with my fiancé the other night and she was so blown away by it she insisted we peel a few cases off for our house before the offer went out. But not to fear: there’s still plenty left for you. Serve it in Burgundy stems at 50-55 degrees after a brief decant, about 30 minutes. And by all means, lay some of this wine down: I can’t wait to see what it becomes in 5-7 years’ time. It will be an absolute knockout. Pair it with a savory shrimp scampi and enjoy the fireworks. Cheers!
Limestone & Clay