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With vineyards dating back to 910 AD that have been farmed organically since the 1950s, and three generations of experience vinifying without additives, Julien Guillot is producing some of the most unique and delicious natural wines of France. And he is doing so with a refreshing lack of pretension - "I want to make wines for sharing, wines that are convivial and flowing, and for this we try to make our wines in the most natural way possible. We take risks in our vinifications, but the wines must remain easily approachable...silky and velvety, (with) a saline aspect in the finish, that brings a crystalline minerality and a perfect accompaniment to fine cuisine." The 2017 "Cuvée Auguste" is a superb Burgundy made from massale selection Pinot Fin planted in 1964. The parcel, high on the slope in Cruzille, is on Bathonian limestone with a great deal of calcium carbonate crystal (aragonite) with thin topsoils of clay and silica, giving yields of 20hl/ha. The 2017 "Manganite" is made from Gamay Petit Grains planted in 1953, grown on a limestone parcel high in magnesium. Both reds are made in a combination of carbonic and normal fermentation, using layers of grapes in whole-clusters and de-stemmed grapes, with zero additives. The 2016 "Aragonite" is made from massale slection Chardonnay grown on limestone with extremely thin clay/silt topsoil giving beautiful minerality to the wine, and is fermented and aged in old foudres "to preserve freshness and to avoid a woody character that we do not seek in our wines." 10 to 20gm/l of SO2 is added depending on the vintage. The glorious 2017 Cuvée 910 is a field blend including Gamay Petits Grains, Pinot Fin and Chardonnay made exactly as wines were made by the monks in 910 AD. Always light and lovely, it's a fascinating natural taste of the earliest Burgundies. All four of these wines are superb to drink now and all but the 910 will cellar for fifteen years or more - they are extraordinary creations that belong in the cellar of anyone who appreciates natural wines!
Wines from outside the Clos in Cruzille are from small organic or Biodynamic parcels in the Mâcon and Beaujolais, vinified with the same techniques. Of particular note in today's email is the lovely 2016 Mâcon-Villages which is a superb white Burgundy for current enjoyment or cellaring for ten to fifteen years - only ten cases are available so don't delay...
All wines arrive by Thursday, Jan 17.
The Cuvee 910 is back! This special cuvée is a commemoration of eleven hundred years of winemaking, the vineyards in the Clos des Vignes du Maynes having been planted around AD 900 and wine first produced for the Abbey of Cluny around 910. This "medieval" wine is a field blend of Chardonnay, Gamay and Pinot Noir, including the old varieties Gamay Petit Grain and Pinot Fin. The grapes were transported in carts pulled by Charolais bulls, then pressed by foot, vinified and aged without sulfur and bottled by hand in the spring. In 2016, Cuvee 910 was about 50% Chardonnay (it's normally around 25%) because the Guillots had no Gamay due to frost and hail. Now the Gamay has returned to the party and we couldn't be happier! The palate is light but loaded with ripe, pure berry fruit backed by citrusy acids. Zippy, refreshing and very gulpable, with subtle notes of hibiscus tea, and tart berries. Due to some fluke, we unfortunately didn't get mags this time around, so we'd recommend stocking up on this gleeful wine! Although this is always a light, delicate wine, the 2017 weighs in at a whopping 12% alcohol - it's a gorgeous wine that should gain complexity with time, perhaps three to five years (or more?) but it's much too delicious right now to consider cellaring. Zero added SO2.
Made from massale-selection Gamay Petit Grains planted in 1953, grown on a limestone/clay parcel high in magnesium, in the Clos des Vignes du Maynes in Cruzille, organic since 900 AD, now certified Biodynamic. The energetic Julien Guillot vinifies his reds without sulfur or additives of any kind, producing complex, mineral, elegant wines that transcend their appellation. The 2017s here are lovely, showing the elegance, purity and balance typical of the estate with the wonderful ripeness of the vintage. The wine shows gorgeous red and black fruit aromas with cranberry, raspberry, earth, stone and musk with hints of mint and spice. The palate is bright and sappy, beautifully balanced with black raspberry, tart strawberry, citrus, stone and earthy flavors, that continue on the very long finish with chalky red fruits and refreshing acidity. Always one of the greatest Gamays produced anywhere, the 2017 Manganite is a young wine that will benefit from decanting or five to fifteen years in the cellar. Highly recommended! DL
From 40 to 80 year-old massale-selection Chardonnay vines high on the slope in Cruzille on limestone with a great deal of calcium carbonate crystal (aragonite) with thin topsoils of clay and silica, never treated with chemicals, certified biodynamic. Fermentation is in 600 liter barrels with wild yeasts, aged 10 months sur-lie without racking, no SO2 until a small dosage (10 - 20 mg/l) before bottling. The 2016 "Aragonite" is a superb, well structured white Burgundy that will age beautifully. The wine shows elegant aromas of pear, lemon confit, lime-flower, toasted almond and stone, really lovely. The palate is intensely mineral and framed in firm acidity, with white fruits, citrus, spice and stone flavors. The living soils of the Clos give this wine an extra dimension of acidity and saline minerals that will contribute to a long life for this lovely wine, perhaps best 2025-2035, but it's delicious as a young wine as well. Highly recommended. David Lillie
Julien Guillot of the Clos des Vignes du Maynes, makes this lovely Mâcon-Villages from certified organic parcels - 50% from Viré-Clessé, the rest from Chardonnay and Montbellet, on Bathonian limestone with clay, rich in silica. The 2016 Mâcon-Villages shows a lovely pale gold color, with aromas of pear, almond, grapefruit and green apple. The palate is refreshing and elegant with refreshing acidity and flavors of pear, stone, almond and creamy lemon. The finish is silky and long with ripe white fruits and wet stone flavors. This is a superb white Burgundy and a far cry from the normal negoce Macon wines. This versatile and delicious Chardonnay will accompany almost anything from the sea as well as white meats, Asian foods and mild cheeses. Julien compares this vintage to 2010, which he opened for us last winter (Jan 2018) The wine was vibrant and delicious with terrific length, showing that cellaring this wine is a great option. David Lillie
Known for the Vignes du Maynes wines from Cruzille, in the south of Burgundy, Julien Guillot has had the chance over the years to take long term leases on a few vineyards south of Macon in the Beaujolais. Due to issues with frost and hail in 2016, and to the loss of a rental vineyard to an old owner who decided to tear out vines, this vintage of the "Climat" is a combination of grapes from Chenas and from a vineyard called "Pierres Bleues" which is near Villefranche. Chenas is all granite, and Pierres Bleues is limestone. The wines fermented and aged separately and were blended a few months before bottling. From what I percieve, there's hint of granitic spiciness from Chenas, and some lift and energy from the limestone site. There's lovely fresh rasberry fruit on the attack, and a very mineral, stony finish. Fresh and elegant at 12.5%. Eben Lillie
Julien Guillot of the Clos des Vignes du Maynes has made a superb Macon Rouge in 2016, from organic grapes, and vinified without SO2. The wine shows a quite dense black/red color with aromas of ripe blackberry, candied cherry, violet, citrus and white pepper. The palate is dense but balanced and sapid with blackberry and cherry fruit lifted by firm acidity. The finish is very long with saline minerals and berry fruits and refreshing acidity. This is a somewhat intense but beautiful and complex Gamay that will be superb with grilled foods this summer and should develop nicely over the next few years. David Lillie
The Vignes du Maynes "Cuvée Auguste" is a superb Burgundy made from massale selection Pinot Fin planted in 1964. The parcel, high on the slope in Cruzille, is on Bathonian limestone with a great deal of calcium carbonate crystal (aragonite) with thin topsoils of clay and silica. Yields of 20 hl/ha, semi-carbonic and normal alcoholic fermentations, with zero additives, bottled under nitrogen. Yields were quite low in 2016, but as with much of Burgundy, the 2016 Cuvee Auguste is a classic, well structured wine that should age beautifully. The wine shows beautiful aromas of tart cherry, rose, earth, orange peel and spice. The palate is dense and earthy with a core of deep berry fruit, silky and elegant with notes of citrus, licorice and roast meat. The finish is long and sapid with chalky minerals, citrus, spice and berry fruits. This is a gorgeous living wine - decant a few hours if drinking now or cellar five to ten years or more. A very small quantity is available of this rare and beautiful wine. David Lillie