We tasted with Thierry Pillot who told us that his main concern in 2017 was on which date to start picking. He had been in the vineyard every day for two weeks worrying about the start date and then he and his father agreed to start. “You never know if it’s right, it’s just down to instinct,” Thierry told us. So they started on 27th August when it was quite hot, so they left the grapes inside the winery to cool down, refrigerated trailers being in too much demand to get one! They had some rain in the early days of September but most of their grapes were in by then. He feels his 2017s are “transparent wines” in which you can see the character of the terroirs, just like in 2014.
Thierry Pillot, a friendly, open young man, and his sister Christelle are increasingly taking the reins, at this super Chassagne-Montrachet estate, him on the production and her in the office. Between them they have world view with experience of winemaking in Australia, South Africa and Oregon. Their father, Paul, is never far away to help make the major decisions. It was his grandfather, Jean-Baptiste Pillot, who was born in Chassagne-Montrachet in 1858, becoming a cooper with a few vines to tend. From these small beginnings there are now three separate ‘Pillot’ domaines in Chassagne-Montrachet, which are all run by his descendants, among whom also ranks the wife of Henri Germain, a long-standing supplier of Meursault to Tanners. The 13 ha estate mostly comprises vines in Chassagne-Montrachet, but also has small holdings in Saint-Aubin and Santenay. As ever, winemaking here is sensitive; they use no added yeast and no new barrels for the lighter vintages. One year the new barrels arrived, they looked at them and simply sent them back! Those sorts of decisions take courage but are fundamental to making great wines.