This is Burgundy – a land blessed by the gods where geology and climate uniquely combine to produce ideal conditions for the cultivation of the world’s most famous red wine grape, the Pinot Noir. Here you will find some of the most prestigious wine names in France – with prices to match! However, many years ago we followed Hugh Johnson’s advice that the wines of the Côte Chalonnaise – made with the same grape varieties as those from further north – were excellent value for money and, finding it to be true, we got to know the area very well. It was our search for good burgundy at sensible prices that first led us here, but we fell in love not only with its wines, but also with its friendly, down-to-earth people, and it remains one of our favourite areas.
The Côte Chalonnaise lies to the south of the Côte de Beaune and north of Mâcon, and is one of the finest wine-growing areas in Burgundy, yet few people have ever heard of it. Mercurey is the most important appellation here and the style of its wines depends on the exact site of each vineyard. Some of the Premiers Crus that lie on a subsoil of deep marl give very structured wines that need many years’ ageing. Elsewhere, where the soil is drier and stonier, the wines are subtler and have considerable elegance and finesse – and can also be drunk much earlier.
It is here, on a southeast-facing slope in the village of Mercurey, that our winemakers, charming brothers Laurent and Jean-Michel Pillot, own a parcel of Pinot Noir vines in the famous En Sazenay vineyard. Laurent and Jean-Michel are the fifth generation of the Pillot family to make wine, and their wines are considered some of the best in the region.