If I have to hear another request for the new vintage of Jean-Marc Pillot, I might just write a newsletter about it. Here we go: There are so many things to love about Jean Marc Pillot, but two things in particular really stand out. 1. While everyone else is trying to get their latest release out the door, Pillot holds back a year for his whites and two for his reds. While everyone else is concentrating on 2021 whites at the moment, we got some 2020 whites for ya! But not much!
Second, there is such a crazy admiration here for the often misunderstood village of Chassagne Montrachet. Especially the reds, but let's discuss the whites : Chassagne, is always lesser known to its neighbor Puligny Montrachet and as a result, there is little known about some of the more small and exotic premier cru sites. With Pillot, there is such adulation and almost awe given to these sites, that each one is supposed to be so unique, flattering and unyielding in a sense. To try a line up of these premier crus, in any vintage, is a playful battle on the nose and palate. A mystical enchantment, in which we come to see the true meaning of terroir in Burgundy.
And then there is more: the areas of Rully and Saint Romain are almost unknown to the naked eye, but these are top level white Burgundy; as unique and structured as the friends up north with even a little potential for age. I have Burgundy customers (yes, talking about you guys) who turn their noses up at most things I offer but tend to jump on these every time. Follow their lead.
Not to toot my own horn (maybe just a little) but as some of you know, I discovered the wines of Pillot over 12 years ago and have been getting lots of regular customers interested in them. It's been fascinating and exhilarating to watch this once unknown producer start to become a highly desired producer that is almost a house hold name in Burgundy circles.
Now there is some bad news: Not only was the 2020 vintage smaller than usual but the amount allocated gets smaller as well. Remember Vergers, Caillerets and Baudines? Yeah, I didn't get any this year. But fear not, there is plenty of great stuff to go around.
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2020 Jean Marc Pillot Montagny ”Les Bassets"
Newsletter Price: $37.99
Pillot has a friend in the appellation of Montagny in the Côte Chalonnaise with some old vineyard holdings, the fruit of which he is happy to sell to Jean-Marc each year to help him round out his lineup with some accessibly priced wines of a different character. Les Bassets is a “split” vineyard, part of which is villages-classified and part of which is premier cru, and this parcel is just on the villages side. Vinified and aged entirely in stainless steel, this wine displays the racy acidity and chalky, almost Chablis-like character of Montagny at is best, but with a satisfying mid-palate richness.
2020 Jean Marc Pillot Rully Les Chaumes
Newsletter Price: $39.99
Jean-Marc has access to fruit in this terrific appellation in the northern part of the Côte Chalonnaise from parcels owned by an old friend with whom he served in the military. La Chaume—from a large 41-hectare lieu-dit—is more straightforward in its personality and more thickly fruited than the Les Gaudoirs below, but nonetheless offers attractive minerality and ample acid. This is given a proper 18-month élevage just like Jean-Marc’s pricier wines in the Côte de Beaune, and its modest 20% new oak is well-integrated.
2020 Jean Marc Pillot Rully 1er Cru Raclots
Newsletter Price: $49.99
Jean-Marc’s friend’s parcel in Les Raclots is 60 years old, planted in the appellation’s classic clay-limestone terrain. This cuvée offers a similar saline impression to the Les Gaudoirs, but with greater power and depth of fruit, and a sense of underlying richness that stops short of viscosity. Les Raclots more than holds its own against some of Jean-Marc’s rounder Chassagne-Montrachet 1er crus, and it should age terrifically.
2020 Jean Marc Pillot Saint Romain Periere
Newsletter Price: $46.99
From this renowned poor-soiled vineyard in the high valley of Saint-Romain, Jean-Marc produces a wine of impressive power for the appellation—Saint-Romain as rendered by a master of Chassagne-Montrachet. Aged one-quarter in new barrels, this offers succulent orchard fruits on a relatively easygoing frame, with enough acidity to harmonize its elements but without pitching the wine toward shrillness. Vinified in stainless steel which emphasizes the earthy minerality of this appellation; we import around 50 cases annually.
2020 Jean Marc Pillot Chassagne-Montrachet Blanc “Les Chaumes (AKA Masures)”
Newsletter Price: $79.99
Pillot owns half a hectare of Chardonnay in this well-positioned lieu-dit, which sits just below premier cru Champs-Gains on the slope. One third of his vines here were planted in 1950, one-third in 1990, and one-third in 2010. This is a classically rendered Chassagne-Montrachet, one which deftly balances rich, mouth-filling fruit with a powerful mineral thrust. [Note: as of the 2016 vintage, this replaced the Chassagne-Montrachet Blanc “Les Chaumes” with which we had worked for many years.]
2020 Jean Marc Pillot Chassagne-Montrachet Blanc 1er Cru “Les Macherelles”
Newsletter Price: $99.99
Les Macherelles sits just to the south of the premier cru Les Chenevottes in the northern sector of Chassagne-Montrachet, just north of the village itself. Pillot’s 0.28 hectares of vines here were planted in the early 1950s, and this cuvée presents a remarkably stony nose, with focused, lean, strikingly refined flavors of lime zest and sea salt.
2020 Jean Marc Pillot Chassagne-Montrachet Blanc 1er Cru Chenevottes
Newsletter Price: $109.99
This cuvée is from the northernmost holdings of the domaine in Chassagne as it fronts onto the border with Saint-Aubin and Puligny. It is here that Pillot reveals the more elegant side of Chassagne. A small holding (0.29 hectares, vines planted in 1950) that yields a wine that is generous and silky with more citrus notes than the cuvées from the southern edge of Chassagne.
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