As a passionate fan of Burgundy, there is a wide spread agreement amongst my Burgundy wine loving buddies that Burgundy’s Pinot Noir typically lends itself to very delicate, pale coloured wines which in a blind tasting is a sure give-away with its signature light rim and pale ruby colour on appearance, yet possesing an intense plush fruit and spice concentration with earth notes on the palate, especially from wines of Geverey Chambertin and the likes of similar Grand Crus! On this scale, Volnay has always been described as a “feminine” version of its more dominating cousins. My recent “Valiant Volnay” experience has had a very happy ending, one that has got me pleasantly surprised…if my tasting notes below describes what feminine is, as quoted for this wine, why would one want to be masculine?
DOMAIN HENRI BOILLOT, LES CHEVRETS, PREMIER CRU 2011
Deep (and not pale!!) ruby and dry, with aromas of red cherry cobbler pudding give-away notes and ripened and baked plums, this Burgundy embodies the new world expression with ripe, dense and smooth fine grained tannins, a beautiful bouquet of oak, toast, sweet spice of vanilla and liquorice and black pepper notes, combined with wet leaves and strong earthy aromas. Complex aged aromas blend in beautifully with the richness of the fruits and the glowing acidity further adds polish, finesse and remarkable structure to this bold wine. All in all, a foodie wine that will go down well with game or even a traditional home-baked shephers pie. On trying out last evening, with a back-to-home end of the week Indian curry, what I found equally appealing, were the sweet-spices and the plush fruitiness in the wine that complemented beautifully with the cinnamon, nutmeg and coriander notes of the Indian curry; clearly demonstrating the versatility of this under-stated region of Burgundy.
Given its depth, intensity and complexity, the wine has an ability to further evolve in the next 7-10 years.
Volnay is the only region in Cote de Beaune that makes Red Wines. With less than 500 acres of land under production, Volnay wines are not produced in huge amounts. But covering several highly regarded Premier Crus (no Grand Crus here, which actually translates to affordable luxury wines), you can assured of some highly quality driven producers. In this instance, this wine falls in the GBP 50-55 range a bottle.
Henri Boillot is the 5th generation winemaker in his family that has deep roots in Burgundy since 1885. In 2005, returning after 20 years of successful self-established business venture, he won respect from his established father Jean and later buying out lands from his sister and brother, he started out with his own Domaine Henri Boillot in 2005. While his negociant wine-making business (assembling wines by purchasing grapes from small growers) was based out of Mersault (under the name Maison Henri Boillot), he also ran his own Domain in Volnay but later on, re-located and centralised it along with his negociant business, with the creation of a state-of-the-art winery in Mersault . Grapes for his negociant wines have historically come from purchasing grapes in and around the Mersault region from growers, with whom he has had deep, long standing relationships with. The level of faith runs so deep that he has been seen tending to the vineyards himself very commitedly spending a lot of time out there in the summers. In particular is his Bourgogne Blanc, white wine that has been made from hand picked fruits of the extremely prestigious village level vineyards in Puligny-Montrachet, Mersault, Pernard Verglasses and St Romaine. Both his negociant and domain business run on very high standards of excellence. On the vineyard front, he strictly practises quality sustainable farming with low yields, working meticulously towards avoiding pesticides and chemicals.
While Henri Boillot has been known for his signature White Premier Crus that are produced from small plots of land in MERSAULT (Les Poruzots, Les Charmes, Les Genevrières, Les Perrières), CHASSAGNE MONTRACHET (Chevenottes, Embrazees) and PULIGNY MONTRACHET (les Folatières, les Perrières, les Pucelles), he also produces splendid Red Wines with grapes from Volnay belonging to Premier Crus- Le Chevrets, Le Fremiets and Santenots. [In particular to note is : Clos de la Mouchères located within the walled vineyard of Les Perries in Puligny Montrachet where Henri Boillot is the Monople ie 100% owned]
Henri’s son Guillaume who has joined the family venture since 2006 to look after the reds has made many marked changes to the wine making styles making them more expressive and one of it is the use of whole bunches to advance complexity and ageability of the wines.
In a nutshell: Unapologetically dense, Comfortably expressive and veraciously bold are the “feminine” words if any, to sum up for this wine!