Val Joanis is set in an idyllic place and it’s easy to see why it has become over
30 years ago, Christophe Galez set up Champagnes and Châteaux and started looking for quality family producers in France. Little did he know that some of those relationships would still grow 30 years later and develop into friendships…….
One friendship, which has grown over the years, is with Chassagne-Montrachet grower Jean-Marc Pillot, not forgetting his wife Nadine, his sister Béatrice and of course his father Jean.
“When the business partner from the early days becomes the long-time friend with whom I love to share good moments … to the next 30 years!!” Jean-Marc Pillot
Jean-Marc Pillot is the fourth consecutive generation of his family to be involved in winemaking. His great-grandfather, Jean-Baptiste, started the Domaine in 1910. Jean-Marc began his career as a winemaker in 1985 directly beneath his father, Jean. His first vintage was made in the new winery in Chagny. By then, he had assumed leadership of the family property, with the help of Nadine and Beatrice. They went from strength to strength, expanding their vineyard holdings to 11 hectares. One of the unusual characteristics of the Domaine is the even division between Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vines.
Jean-Marc’s number one priority is to respect the terroir he has inherited. The vineyards are naturally managed. The soil is ploughed all year long. Organic fertilisers are adapted to the needs of each vine and the specific nature of each plot. Sustainable methods are used to fight against fungal diseases with maximum respect for the vines and their environment. A true believer in the saying that “great wine is made in the vineyard”, Jean-Marc lavishes great care and attention on his vines: March pruning, green harvesting, and manual picking account for quality grapes that are absolutely essential for making great wine.
The harvest is done by hand. For the whites, as soon as they are cut, the bunches are brought to the vat room and put whole into the pneumatic press. The juice goes from there to the underground cellar via gravity flow and is put into oak barrels, 30% of which are new. The wines age there under ideal conditions for 12 months after alcoholic and malolactic fermentation. Starting in 2005, Jean-Marc decided that the wines would benefit from longer ageing. They now spend 6 months in stainless steel vats before bottling for improved stabilisation and efficient natural clarification
For the reds, the grapes are sorted and 80% destemmed as soon as they arrive in the vat room before being put into an open vat to undergo cold pre-fermentation maceration for about 4 days. Alcoholic fermentation takes place traditionally for 10 days with daily pumping over and pigeage (punching down the cap). Once the wine is run off from vat and the marc pressed in a pneumatic press, the wines are left to age in barrel on the fine lees for 12 months. Malolactic fermentation takes place during this time. The wines are racked just once before being put into stainless steel vats, where they are blended for six months prior to bottling in the month of April.
Jean-Marc Pillot has really pushed the domaine into the top rank of Chassagne producers. There is no better Chassagne in the village than Jean Marc Pillot. We love that he produces small quantities of brilliant wines.
It is hard to over-emphasise just how much Jean-Marc Pillot’s wines are improving with each vintage. The whites are at peak two or three years after the vintage, whilst the reds are perfect between three and four years. Jean-Marc is never in a hurry to release his latest vintage and would rather hold back a year.
His wines are rich in fruit, powerful but always elegant, with a smooth and long finish. A classic style that will never go out of fashion.
Jean-Marc and Nadine Pillot are incredibly warm and friendly people. When Christophe said that he wanted to celebrate the 30 years of Champagnes and Châteaux, immediately they were making Eurostar bookings to be present and share this special birthday with him.
Photos from our 30th Birthday Party:
They love conviviality, sit together and share a meal of simple charcuterie or the finest foods and of course, always with some good bottles! Bons vivants, they truly are!