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As purity, expression and transparency increasingly dominate the discourse in Burgundy, the prices for wines from icons like Mugnier, Roumier and Rousseau have skyrocketed.
But for every Mugnier or Rousseau, there are a handful of domaines who make wines of profound expression, but whose prices remain attractive. At the top of our list of such producers is Louis Boillot.
Louis Boillot’s emerging position in the Burgundy firmament is not accidental. Despite having only launched his domaine in 2002, he came armed with some of the oldest and best situated vineyards in Burgundy—thanks to four generations of Boillots having acquired prime sites in Volnay and Gevrey Chambertin.
Louis’ domaine has quietly become one of the most admired small estates in the Côte d’Or. The turning point came in the mid-2000s when he and his partner—the supremely talented Ghislaine Barthod—built a cave together in Chambolle-Musigny.
This brought two of Burgundy’s most gifted winemakers together—working and tasting side by side—with the alchemy you’d expect. The vineyard management was also combined, with Louis responsible for not only his own vines, but those of Ghislaine as well.
It’s no wonder Ghislaine lets Louis take care of her vines. He was a master with more than 30 years of experience—employing the minimum of interventions, and meticulously pruning for balanced yields. His winemaking was equally timeless, featuring extended, gentle extractions and a limited use of new barrels.
In the years since his move to Chambolle, there has been a wildly impressive advance in the stature of Boillot’s wines. It has been a change marked not by flash or dazzle, but by an inexorable march towards increasingly refined and transparent wines. And, with son Clément taking up the reins, that aesthetic is ensured for another generation.
Today, as in the past, a profound respect for the terroir of old vines is at the heart of the estate’s style. In Gevrey-Chambertin for example, the villages vines average over 50 years old, as do the vines for the lieu-dit Evocelles. His Champonnet proves this little-seen site ranks among Gevery’s best premier crus. And the Cherbaudes, from 100+ year old vines, is frequently of grand cru quality.
A profound Nuit-St. Georges 1er cru Pruliers is produced, also from 100+ year old vines. And, in Chambolle-Musigny, Louis and Ghislaine purchased and divided a significant old-vine holding in Beaux Bruns.
The domaine’s Côte de Beaune vineyards are equally imposing, with 65+-year-old vines in the villages Volnay Grands Poisots. Also in Volnay, there are three premier crus: the supple Les Angles, the intense old-vine Brouillards and the esteemed Caillerets. Just down the road, there are two great Pommard premier crus: a robust Fremiers and monumental Croix Noires.
In fact, it’s hard to imagine the wines of so many great Burgundy terroirs slumbering in the same cellar. Between Louis Boillot and Ghislaine Barthod, there are over 26 different cuvées, of which 17 are premier cru. Without question, Clément has a treasure chest of great sites to vinify as his parents slowly settle into retirement.
The wines that Louis made—and Clément now makes—from his priceless old vines remind us of what Burgundy used to be: gentle, subtle, pure, precise, and highly nuanced; their complexity and sensuality growing with age.
And, starting in 2014, Louis and Clément brought their patient, balanced approach to the Beaujolais region. Eschewing flash or dazzle, Clément aims to slowly refine the wines and traditions of these terroirs just as his father did in Burgundy over the preceding 20 years.
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