Gautier Thevenet Domaine Émilian Gillet Viré Clessé AOC 2015
Winegrower: Gautier Thevenet
Region: Viré Clessé AOC (Mâcon, Burgundy) France
Shipping: September 2018
Typical descriptors of the wines of the Mâcon region in Southern Burgundy do not usually contain words like ‘complex’, ‘rich’, ‘concentration’, ‘depth’ or ‘elegance’. The region is primarily known for its cheap, nondescript, mass-produced, white café wines from large cooperatives and négociants. But the Mâcon has winegrowers of greatness and today’s Domaine Emilian Gillet hails from just such a vigneron. In Viré Clessé, an appellation in the Mâcon, Gautier Thevenet crafts Chardonnays that transcend any preconceived notions you may have about this region. Today’s wine is a terroir-driven beauty of poised fruit, elegance, balance and beautiful aromatics. This Chardonnay is nearly impossible to stop drinking, and at $36 a bottle, is an excellent example of our “quality-to-price” mantra. It’s one of the best Chardonnay values on the market and rivals the finer white wines of the Côte de Beaune but at a far better price. Domaine Émilian Gillet is produced in small quantities so your chances of finding it elsewhere are slim and, at this price, impossible!
Gautier Thevenet is a staunch non-interventionist who produces Chardonnays of great distinction and complexity. He farms his clay and limestone soils biodynamically; chemicals haven’t been used in his family’s vineyards for over 40 years, and he drastically reduces the yields and harvests later than anyone else in the region. This leads to wines of much greater depth and richness than the norm. Grapes are handpicked and fermentation, which often takes more than a year (versus a week with commercial yeasts), occurs naturally in old oak barrels at low temperatures. The wines then see more old oak and are bottled unfined and unfiltered and aged for an additional one to two years or more.
In ancient times, the Mâcon was a major Roman crossroads and an early site of viticulture. Here the vines occupy a landscape of little hills and valleys that, come fall, look like they were painted with watercolours. Today the appellation’s best winegrowers are delivering an unprecedented level of quality and have received much well deserved praise. Located in southern Burgundy, Mâcon generally has the same type of soils as its more northern neighbours but enjoys a slightly warmer climate. This can result in wines with a touch more fruit and richness.
The Thevenet family has been living and making wine in the Mâcon since the 15th century. For over 100 years the family has stayed true to their tradition of taking time to make the best wine possible. Gautier Thevenet, who now manages the domaine, learned his craft from his father Jean, who in-turn learned it from his father back when there were no oenology schools and vignerons were clueless about malo-lactic fermentation. Jean is still active in the vineyards and is one of France’s earliest natural winegrowers, but with a difference; he does not focus on eliminating SO² from the winemaking process. Rather he thinks it should be used as little as possible to ensure the stability of the wine.
The Domaine Émilian Gillet 2015 is pulsating with life, incredible purity of fruit and the essence of the soil. It’s a beautifully crafted Chardonnay that is rich, complex, and elegant; a wine that is in perfect harmony with mouth-watering acidity. Harvested from 40 + year old vines, it displays a bright pale lemon/straw colour. The nose is complex but not overpowering with aromas of white flowers and exotic fruits. These carry through on the palate, which offers a creamy minerality, flinty undertones and a medium finish. This is a stunning wine at a fabulous price. For an incredible Chardonnay high enjoy this wine at 10˚ in white wine stems with this delicious Crab Imperial.