Domaine Guillemot-Michel, Burgundy

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Gautier Roussille
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Domaine Guillemot-Michel, Burgundy

#1 Post by Gautier Roussille » May 1st, 2020, 1:36 am

Hello Guys,
I've been mainly a silent reader here, but let me try to change that.
For the last few year I've been working with my wife on the family estate (Domaine Guillemot-Michel, which as been cited a couple time on the forum) and with the quarantine here I have a little more time to do what I've been postponing for years, one thing being refreshing and translating our website in English (website that didn't existed just a few years ago so that's already that...).
At the same time, I've been posting some info about the estate in a less "corporate" style on a French wine forum Ive been part of for many years and I thought that you might enjoy these texts.
I've read the FAQ/Rules, didn't quite sure I understood everything about the BersekerBusiness and the forum policy about those ITB but If I'm trespassing here, fell free to tell me and remove this thread.
As you might have guessed, I' not a native speaker so please forgive me for potential mistakes (and fell free to point them as I might reuse part of the texts).

First of all, the history of the Estate:

Domaine Guillemot-Michel is a 6.5 ha (16acres) family vineyard located in "Quintaine", between the villages of Viré and Clessé, in the heart of the Viré-Clessé appellation, in southern Burgundy.
Image

In 1982, after studying viticulture and oenology (BTS in Mâcon then DNO in Montpellier) my in-laws, Pierrette Michel and Marc Guillemot returned to help Pierrette's sick father who could no longer manage his vines alone (an all too common story). Back then, the grapes were delivered to the local coop' the great grandfather helped creating. After his first spraying, poisoned by the chemicals, Marc came home, puked and decided to no longer use, I quote, "these crap". The estate went organic. Followed a few disagreements with the neighbors and especially with the cooperative, which they left in 1985, bottling their first vintage under the name "Pierrette and Marc Guillemot-Michel, Quintaine". The “Quintaine” cuvée will remain the only cuvée produced on the estate for 30 years.

While Pierrette and Marc had to find money to buy winemaking material (tanks, etc.), the 1984 vintage was never paid by the coop which stated "sue us, you'll get the money in 10 years" neener
Fortunately enough, educated winemakers were rare in Burgundy at that time (don't start me with "has it changed?") an they started consulting and carrying out wine analyses for colleagues. Marc also works for a filtration service provider and some wine was sold bulk to the "Negoce".

Image
Today with 4 trained winemakers here, we continue to carry out 100% of our analyses ourselves, except for one export-compulsory certified-lab

Fortunately, the estate was quickly spotted and appreciated, in France (two stars in the Hachette guide for the first vintage) and abroad (namely the US, funny story, in 1985 when the first vintage was still growing on the vines, one day, coming back from the vineyard, they found American importers business cards under their door. These guys had heard that a young couple was leaving the coop and they wanted to be first in line. I can pretty much still see that here in France, when I discover a new estate I've never heard of in France they are already imported in Japan, US, etc. always cracks me up.)

After a few years of organic cultivation, they were still dissatisfied with the classic "a disease, a symptom, a molecule" tryptic and were looking for something different. However, everyone they meet was trying to sell a product, or a ready made solution. They were feeling dispossessed of a more traditional peasant approach. They found what they were looking for with Biodynamics. After several meetings, notably with Alex Podolinsky and Nicolas Joly, Pierrette and Marc turned the vineyard Biodynamic during the 1991 vintage (Demeter certification from 1992 and Biodyvin since 2018). They were seduced by the holistic vision, the non-commercial approach (here is what we do, you can do it too, yourself, we don't need you to buy anything) and convinced by the changes they saw in the vineyard and in the wines.

Image
This is Champ-rond, the largest block of the estate, 2,7ha (6,5 acres)

Over the years, a few purchases and exchanges of vines allow ed Pierrette and Marc to regroup some blocks and go from the initial 5.5ha to the current 6.5ha divided in 7 plots. In 2012, their daughter Sophie (my wife) returned to the estate after here viticulture and winemaking studies in Montpellier. She continues the work of her parents while bringing some new things: phytotherapy in the vineyard, distillation, and the production of an ancestral method sparkling called "Une Bulle" (one bubble). In 2017, I too officially joined the team and brought my own ideas: two micro-cuvées, a Gin, and some more project for the futureI hope I'll talk about here.

Image
Left to right Pierrette, Sophie, Marc and myself (Gautier)
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Domaine Guillemot-Michel, France

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Re: Domaine Guillemot-Michel, Burgundy

#2 Post by William Kelley » May 1st, 2020, 1:59 am

Hi Gautier! This post makes me nostalgic for my cancelled trip to the Mâconnais. But felicitations to the family on the 2018s, they have turned out beautifully. I found them elegant and perfumed, not as muscular as the 2017s, and I would probably drink the 2018s before the 2017s. Perhaps you could write a few lines about what makes Viré-Clessé special, and how the hamlet of Quintaine is a distinctive area within it? There may be some people reading who have tried the wines of your neighbors the Thevenet family, who have also been farming organically for a long time.
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Re: Domaine Guillemot-Michel, Burgundy

#3 Post by Mike Evans » May 1st, 2020, 7:28 am

I drank my last bottle of the 1996 Quintaine about 4 years ago and it was terrific, a brilliant example of aged white Burgundy. I wish my Ramonets, Sauzets, Niellons, and Jean Pillots from that time period had aged even half as consistently and gracefully as my Guillemot-Michels, Goyards, and Thévenets.

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Re: Domaine Guillemot-Michel, Burgundy

#4 Post by Gautier Roussille » May 1st, 2020, 7:36 am

Hi William,
Nice to see you here! Too bad you couldn't come but I do hope to see you when we are finally free to move around. Thank you for the nice comment on the 2018's, I fully agree that they'll be ready before the 2017 and I just opened a bottle of Quintaine 2018 for lunch to pair with some nice goat cheese I just got from a neighbouring farm. (Incidentally I used a Zalto glass for the first time on this vintage as I thought it wouldn't work well but it did!).
So to tell more about Viré-Clessé and Quintaine a you encourage me to:

Like the vast majority of Burgundy’s vineyard, Viré and Clessé sit on a bedrock of Jurassic limestone. But when from Chablis to Pouilly-Fuissé through Meursault the top soil is often straight up a mix of more or less clay with this limestone (don’t get me wrong here, plenty of climat and terroir differences, love other Burgundy too) things are a little different here.

Viré-Clessé vineyard is located on two parallel north/south coasts, one more recent than the other, made of Jurassic limestone and marl-limestone. More specifically if you are a geology geek, our bedrock date back to the Bathonian to Oxfordian, around -160 My. Of course, on some part we do have clay, specifically clay with chert (simply put a kind of softer flint), but in most case we have silts or clay-silts. These silts come from the degradation of the bedrock and now we have a very different terroir.

The relief around Quintaine generates a high density of summer storms (we see them arriving through « the daisy hole », a semblance of a valley between two mountains to the west of the hamlet), accelerating the decarbonation of limestones in silts. The consequences on the physiology of the vine and therefore on the wines’ style are threefold:

-the water supply during summer contributes to a better natural acidity of the wines: we often speak of grappe ripening being blocked due to excessive heat and drought, but doing so we generally consider the sugar levels, forgetting that the acid synthesis stops earlier than the sugar synthesis, hence this general idea of ​​heavy wines lacking tension in hot dry years. At the estate, as far back as I go back in our analyzes, our wines always had a natural pH between 3.10 and 3.20 (malolactic fermentation always completed).

-the low level of active limestone favour the establishment of the vine’s deep roots (different rootstock too) and modifies the structure of the wines. The active limestone is partly responsible for the (excuse my French) “mineral” structure of Burgundy’s whites. From Chablis to Pouilly via Meursault (again! Yeah, same terroir, don’t shoot.), there is a common thread: rather sharp/tart wines made with slightly underripe grappes, to which the wood barrels flesh and body (or not for many in Chablis, I don’t think I need to illustrate their the, sometimes superb, sharpness). (And if you want to make a "Grand Cru", you add a good dose of sulfur so that it is "closed now but will be great in 10 years", hi to my Friends in the Côte de Beaune! [whistle.gif] ). In Viré-Clessé, the grapes develop their aromas a little later during ripening (perhaps around 0,5 more potential alcohol in average, 13-13,5 for us), and the wines are naturally rich / full bodied, the extra body provided by wood (especially new) may then weigh them down and we prefer using tanks (concrete tanks here at Domaine Guillemot-Michel).

-the silts host a slightly different microbiota which takes part in the fermentation (if you don’t kill it off in the vineyard and don’t replace it in the tank by selected yeasts and bacteria…) and therefore in the aroma of our wines.


The Quintaine terroir, is historically recognized as « tête de cuvée » (top notch, future premier cru when we’ll have some… [training.gif] ) in the villages of Viré and Clessé. I remember a village elder who, during a tasting, bent over his cane, looked at our label and told me, "Quintaine ... is it all Quintaine?" I nodded and he told me with a bright eye and a grin «Quintaine… that’s the good stuff ». 

The hillside of Quintaine is exposed to the rising sun, very slightly to the south, it looks at the Mont Blanc. A thin flatter part that host the main road, the houses and a few vines (Raverettes) break the slope. On the top part, the vines “culminate” (writing this is painful for a guy born in the Alps I swear) at 300m, on the lower part, the landscape change to fields and pastures and cereals around 200m. Forests are both above and bellow. The region has always been dominated by mixed farming, hence the omnipresence of coops, but also a more diverse landscape that I find a little more enticing than other 100% vineyard regions.

The vineyard benefit from the influence of the Saône river which tempers the climatic excesses, both high and low, and which (in wet years) favors the appearance of noble rot. From this, a local style of semi-sweet wine emerged that is nowadays called « levrouté » (which is not technically right as levrouté is traditionally an adjective for very ripe grappes that take on a orange hue and freckles). Thevenet whom William mentioned is a champion of this style. Actually when the Viré-Clessé appellation was founded 20 years ago (it should have been created in the 30’s with Pouilly-Fuissé but the 2 coops could never find an agreement [head-bang.gif] ) it was decided that the all of Viré-Clessé would be dry wine. Jean Thevenet fought this decision but eventually lost and was out of the appellation for many years until wines with more than 3g residual got tolerated, (in the last few years totally accepted) and the levrouté sub-appellation created for sweet wines. (Incidentally we too stay under the general macon-village appellation several years after the creation of the Viré-Clessé appellation our wines being sold under the Quintaine name with the appellation on the back label that didn't make a big difference anyway.)

I have nothing against sweet or semi-sweet wines and we even made four vintages of « grains cendrés » (noble root) wines in the 90’s. However I feel like confusing consumers with dry, semi-sweet and sweet wine under the same appellation is not necessary a smart move. I feel that Alsace suffered an still suffer from this confusion especially now that sweetness in wine is not necessarily sought after.
Anyway, this is one of the main difference between the wines at Thevenet and ours at Domaine Guillemot-Michel: we choose to always make dry wines (to the exception of 4 « grains cendrés » vintage, clearly labelled, half bottles) while Thevenet wines almost always contain residual. They also always harvest later than us (generally start when we finish) leading to a completely different style.

On wet years, when we do have noble root in the vineyard, we welcome it and just make dry wine with it. It gives lovely wines that can be reminiscent of Chenin (probably because it’s one of the rare variety that one can commonly find dry wine made from botrytised grappes, try our Quintaine 2016 if you wonder what’s that’s like). Noble root also tend to hasten the evolution of our wines (no premox, relax!): I identify 3 stages in our wines (which I find more relevant than drinking windows) 1/ The fruit/youth phase that reach is full potential around 5 yo, 2/ The white truffle/exotic phase that culminate around 10yo and 3/ The ripe/nutty/creamy phase that start around 20+yo. In the case of botrytised vintages, the white truffle and exotic notes kick in much earlier, around 3-5yo.

Ok that's for today, I'l give a little more details about our specific blocks in my next post.
Thanks for reading,
Gautier
Last edited by Gautier Roussille on May 1st, 2020, 8:40 am, edited 1 time in total.
Gautier Roussille
Domaine Guillemot-Michel, France

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Re: Domaine Guillemot-Michel, Burgundy

#5 Post by Gautier Roussille » May 1st, 2020, 7:49 am

Thank you Mike [thankyou.gif]
I take none of the praise for the 1996 as I was in primary school back then, but I did taste this wine (amusingly around the same time you did) and I loved it.
We seldom taste old vintages as we have few bottles of each and try to keep them as much as possible, but in December 2015 we decided to open our 30 vintages to celebrate the estate's 30 years.
It was a great experience and we planned to renew it maybe for the estate's 35 or for our 30 years of Biodynamic cultivation. If any of you are in France then... [drinkers.gif]
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Re: Domaine Guillemot-Michel, Burgundy

#6 Post by Otto Forsberg » May 1st, 2020, 7:55 am

It's great to read about you guys! I've had the 2015 Quintaine a few times and have a bottle of 2014 Quintaine in my cellar waiting for the perfect occasion.

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Re: Domaine Guillemot-Michel, Burgundy

#7 Post by William Kelley » May 1st, 2020, 7:59 am

Gautier Roussille wrote:
May 1st, 2020, 7:36 am
Hi William,
Nice to see you here! Too bad you couldn't come but I do hope to see you when we are finally free to move around. Thank you for the nice comment on the 2018's, I fully agree that they'll be ready before the 2017 and I just opened a bottle of Quintaine 2018 for lunch to pair with some nice goat cheese I just got from a neighbouring farm. (Incidentally I used a Zalto glass for the first time on this vintage as I thought it wouldn't work well but it did!).
So to tell more about Viré-Clessé and Quintaine a you encourage me to:

Like the vast majority of Burgundy’s vineyard, Viré and Clessé sit on a bedrock of Jurassic limestone. But when from Chablis to Pouilly-Fuissé through Meursault the top soil is often straight up a mix of more or less clay with this limestone (don’t get me wrong here, plenty of climat and terroir differences, love other Burgundy too) things are a little different here.

Viré-Clessé vineyard is located on two parallel north/south coasts, one more recent than the other, made of Jurassic limestone and marl-limestone. More specifically if you are a geology geek, our bedrock date back to the Bathonian to Oxfordian, around -160 My. Of course, on some part we do have clay, specifically clay with chert (simply put a kind of softer flint), but in most case we have silts or clay-silts. These silts come from the degradation of the bedrock and now we have a very different terroir.

The relief around Quintaine generates a high density of summer storms (we see them arriving through « the daisy hole », a semblance of a valley between two mountains to the west of the hamlet), accelerating the decarbonation of limestones in silts. The consequences on the physiology of the vine and therefore on the wines’ style are threefold:

-the water supply during summer contributes to a better natural acidity of the wines: we often speak of grappe ripening being blocked due to excessive heat and drought, but doing so we generally consider the sugar levels, forgetting that the acid synthesis stops earlier than the sugar synthesis, hence this general idea of ​​heavy wines lacking tension in hot dry years. At the estate, as far back as I go back in our analyzes, our wines always had a natural pH between 3.10 and 3.20 (malolactic fermentation always completed).

-the low level of active limestone favour the establishment of the vine’s deep roots (different rootstock too) and modifies the structure of the wines. The active limestone is partly responsible for the (excuse my French) “mineral” structure of Burgundy’s whites. From Chablis to Pouilly via Meursault (again! Yeah, same terroir, don’t shoot.), there is a common thread: rather sharp/tart wines made with slightly underripe grappes, to which the wood barrels flesh and body (or not for many in Chablis, I don’t think I need to illustrate their the, sometimes superb, sharpness). (And if you want to make a "Grand Cru", you add a good dose of sulfur so that it is "closed now but will be great in 10 years", hi to my Friends in the Côte de Beaune! [whistle.gif] ). In Viré-Clessé, the grapes develop their aromas a little later during ripening (perhaps around 0,5 more potential alcohol in average, 13-13,5 for us), and the wines are naturally rich / full bodied, the extra body provided by wood (especially new) may then weigh them down and we prefer using tanks (concrete tanks here at Domaine Guillemot-Michel).

-the silts host a slightly different microbiota which takes part in the fermentation (if you don’t kill it off in the vineyard and don’t replace it in the tank by selected yeasts and bacteria…) and therefore in the aroma of our wines.


The Quintaine terroir, is historically recognized as « tête de cuvée » (top notch, future premier cru when we’ll have some… [training.gif] ) in the villages of Viré and Clessé. I remember a village elder who, during a tasting, bent over his cane, looked at our label and told me, "Quintaine ... is it all Quintaine?" I nodded and he told me with a bright eye and a grin «Quintaine… that’s the good stuff ». 

The hillside of Quintaine is exposed to the rising sun, very slightly to the south, it looks at the Mont Blanc. A thin flatter part that host the main road, the houses and a few vines (Raverettes) break the slope. On the top part, the vines “culminate” (writing this is painful for a guy born in the Alps I swear) at 300m, on the lower part, the landscape change to fields and pastures and cereals around 200m. Forests are both above and bellow. The region has always been dominated by mixed farming, hence the omnipresence of coops, but also a more diverse landscape that I find a little more enticing than other 100% vineyard regions.

The vineyard benefit from the influence of the Saône river which tempers the climatic excesses, both high and low, and which (in wet years) favors the appearance of noble rot. From this, a local style of semi-sweet wine emerged that is nowadays called « levrouté » (which is not technically right as levrouté is traditionally an adjective for very ripe grappes that take on a orange hue and freckles). Thevenet whom William mentioned is a champion of this style. Actually when the Viré-Clessé appellation was founded 20 years ago (it should have been created in the 30’s with Pouilly-Fuissé but the 2 coops could never find an agreement [head-bang.gif] ) it was decided that the all of Viré-Clessé would be dry wine. Jean Thevenet fought this decision but eventually lost and was out of the appellation for many years until wines with more than 3g residual got tolerated, (in the last few years totally accepted) and the levrouté sub-appellation created for sweet wines. (Incidentally we too stay under the general macon-village appellation several years after the creation of the Viré-Clessé appellation our wines being sold under the Quintaine name with the appellation on the back label that didn't make a big difference anyway.)

I have nothing against sweet or semi-sweet wines and we even made four vintages of « grains cendrés » (noble root) wines in the 90’s. However I feel like confusing consumers with dry, semi-sweet and sweet wine under the same appellation is not necessary a smart move. I feel that Alsace suffered an still suffer from this confusion especially now that sweetness in wine is not necessarily sought after.
Anyway, this is one of the main difference between the wines at Thevenet and ours at Domaine Guillemot-Michel: we choose to always make dry wines (to the exception of 4 « grains cendrés » vintage, clearly labelled, half bottles) while Thevenet wines almost always contain residual. They also always harvest later than us (generally start when we finish) leading to a completely different style.

On wet years, when we do have noble root in the vineyard, we welcome it and just make dry wine with it. It gives lovely wines that can be reminiscent of Chenin (probably because it’s one of the rare variety that one can commonly find dry wine made from botrytised grappes, try our Quintaine 2016 if you wonder what’s that’s like). Noble root also tend to hasten the evolution of our wines (no premox, relax!): I identify 3 stages in our wines (which I find more relevant than drinking windows) 1/ The fruit/youth phase that reach is full potential around 5 yo, 2/ The white truffle/exotic phase that culminate around 10yo and 3/ The ripe/nutty/creamy phase that start around 20+yo. In the case of botrytised vintages, the white truffle and exotic notes kick in much earlier, around 3-5yo.

Ok that's for today, I'l give a little more details about our specific backs in my next post.
Thanks for reading,
Gautier
Great post! That is a more detailed account of Viré-Clessé than I have read anywhere.
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Re: Domaine Guillemot-Michel, Burgundy

#8 Post by Karl K » May 1st, 2020, 8:04 pm

Yes,

Thanks for sharing!
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Re: Domaine Guillemot-Michel, Burgundy

#9 Post by Glen Gold » May 1st, 2020, 9:12 pm

Very exciting to read this -- thank you so much.
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Re: Domaine Guillemot-Michel, Burgundy

#10 Post by Mark C Johnson » May 3rd, 2020, 12:50 am

I just want to add my two cents about how I enjoyed reading this thread. I enjoyed your description of your appellation and hope we hear more from you Gautier. I only wish I had access to your wines here in Hawaii!

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Re: Domaine Guillemot-Michel, Burgundy

#11 Post by William Kelley » May 3rd, 2020, 2:00 am

Gautier Roussille wrote:
May 1st, 2020, 7:36 am
I identify 3 stages in our wines (which I find more relevant than drinking windows) 1/ The fruit/youth phase that reach is full potential around 5 yo, 2/ The white truffle/exotic phase that culminate around 10yo and 3/ The ripe/nutty/creamy phase that start around 20+yo. In the case of botrytised vintages, the white truffle and exotic notes kick in much earlier, around 3-5yo.
I think it could be interesting to go into a bit more detail about the sort of aromas one finds in youthful wines from the appellation, which are for me often evocative of orange blossom and musky peach. And as a related subject, perhaps a few words on "muscaté" selections of Chardonnay which are prevalent in the Mâconnais? Both heritage muscaté selections and modern clones.
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Re: Domaine Guillemot-Michel, Burgundy

#12 Post by Gautier Roussille » May 3rd, 2020, 5:26 am

Thanks for the nice comments! Mark, your usual wine dealer should be able to get our wines if you ask them as we work with a national importer/distributor but I'm not sure how it work with Hawaii! If you know a local importer, do not hesitate to hook me up!

William, I'm not sure I'm the best person to comment on the appellation typical aromas. I'm not very good for naming aromas [scratch.gif] as it's not really my focus at tasting. I'm much more interested in texture, energy and the general dynamic of a wine. Also I won't speak for neighbours as, unfortunately many wines of the appellation are "tainted" with very technical winemaking (selected yeast and so on [head-bang.gif] ). But let me try to give you my take on what I find in our wines and what I believe one should be able to find in a well-made, terroir-driven Viré-Clessé.

I tend to divide our wines under 4 vintages category whether we have a dry or wet, hot or cold climat this year.
dry and hot (2019, 2017, 2015) white flowers (on the honey side, like acacia) and fruits (juicy pear) / well balanced full bodied wines with a good ageing potential
dry and cold (2014, 2011) close to the above but crispier: white flowers and crunchy fruits (those little green pears) / wines with a lot of tension that need some time to open up
wet and hot (2018): peach, yellow fruits (mirabelle plum), spices / rare combination (maybe it will become more common now), full bodied wines that open rather young
wet and cold (2016, 2013) botrytis profil: exotic fruit, truffle / very seductive wines that are lovely from the start and age faster

About the Chardonnay Muscaté, this is a natural mutation of chardonnay that gives muscat flavours to Chardonnay grapes. It was mentioned by Viala and Vermorel in their 1903 book, showing that it already existed back then in several regions but was not especially sought after except in the Mâcon area. At least two clones exist: 809 (1985) and 1068 (2003) but you can find muscaté vines here and there in old massages sections depending on the winegrower tastes. The muscat flavours can be nice in young vines but are not recommended for sparkling as they tend to give bitter tastes if harvest underripe.
We do have some Chardonnay muscaté in our vines, especially some very old vines in a small part of a block under Quintaine's chapel. These vines are much less aromatic than the commercials available clones. We've never tried to make wine with just these vines so I can't say much on the exact input of these vines, what I can say is that the grapes do have a lovely muscat, floral (rose), honeyed scent to them. It is said that these aromas are short-lived and that wine made with muscaté grapes should be drunk young. I disagree with that for several reasons. First I've drank unbelievably good ancient Muscat from the south of France showing that Muscat aromas do age. Secondly I believe that the muscat aromas we have on old (especially massal selection) vines is not the same as the muscat aromas we have on young (especially clones) vines. Whereas the later might indeed be adapted to aromatic - selected yeast - stainless still tank - unable to age - wines, the former do add to wines complexity at any stage.
So while I don't think that the small proportion of Chardonnay Muscaté we do have in the vineyard have a decisive impact on our wines, I do believe that they are part of a whole.

As I just spoke about clones and massal selection, I'll take the opportunity to develop a little about our vines before I go into a little more details about our different blocks as promised. So let me tell you a few words about replacing dead vines ad our massal selection.

Every year around bud break, (end of March, beginning of April) I take two weeks to dig out the dead vines. Most do it with a tractor and an auger, I just use my arms, a shovel (a digging type one we call « louchet » around here), and a crow bar. This is a very good way to know and remember your soil (the arms don’t forget after 2 weeks trying to dig holes in limestone…).

Image
Me and the louchet, planting ungrafted vines

The average age of the vines at domaine Guillemot-Michel is 60 years with the oldest vines planted in 1918 and the most recent planted in 1982. As with all living things, the vines have a life expectancy, and therefore each year, some kick the bucket, sometimes helped by what we call here an "excess of iron" (euphemism for the weak vines that got hit by the plow…).

Even if I remove more old vines than young vines, I commonly remove vines of all ages, from 1 year (they simply did not grow) to 100 years (and sometimes these looked super healthy letting us pondering what happened). The number of missing vines varies from year to year, sometimes for obvious reasons (drought or frost pushing the weakest vines over the edge) sometime not.

The persons who prune (Sophie and our employee Lise) can also have a decisive impact: sometimes we decide to do a little cleaning after several years trying to save moribund feet. For more clarity: we often try to revive a weak vine by leaving only a few buds and sacrificing production in hope that this « rest » year will allow it to get back on it’s feet. More generally, at pruning, we always seek to adapt the production to the vigor of the vine (more buds for a vigorous vine, less for a weaker one). I will post about our pruning technique in more details.

So, back to replacing the dead vines. The number of vines replaced varies each year but we do not know in advance how many vines we will need to replace. So we buy an average of just under 500 vines each year (the figure is not stable due to production constraints, you’ll see why). If we have too many vines, we sell them to colleagues, if we run out, we take some from the same colleagues or in the worst case scenario we wait for the next year.

We work 100% with ou own massal selection, which means that work begins 2 years before the vines’ replacement. We go in our oldest bocks, planted before the vines clones existed or which we know were planted by the grandfather or great grandfather with a massal selection and select the best looking vines (it’s a little more complex than that) and harvest some wood (taking care that these canes won’t be missing at pruning). Each year we harvest 2000-2500 “eyes” (= buds), ie 250-300 canes, which go to our Biodynamic nurseryman, Lilian Bérillion, in the south of France. At the nursery, the vines are grafted and placed in the nursery for one year . The following year we get about 450 feet depending on the losses at grafting and during the nursery year.

Image
Sophie performing massal selection in our Raverettes block.

With a 6.5ha vineyard planted at 8,000 feet/hectare on average, this gives us a replacement rate of around 0.8%, and an average vines age of 60-65 years.

Thanks for reading,
Gautier
Last edited by Gautier Roussille on May 3rd, 2020, 9:34 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Domaine Guillemot-Michel, Burgundy

#13 Post by alan weinberg » May 3rd, 2020, 9:20 am

fascinating insights. I’ll look for your wines.

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Re: Domaine Guillemot-Michel, Burgundy

#14 Post by JasperMorris » May 3rd, 2020, 9:28 am

Fascinating, Gautier
I agree with William's view that your explanation of Vire-Clesse and Quintaine is the best I have seen.

For those interested also in saké, Gautier has written an excellent book on the subject in French - not sure if it has been translated into English though.

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Re: Domaine Guillemot-Michel, Burgundy

#15 Post by Gautier Roussille » May 3rd, 2020, 10:04 am

Thank you very much Jasper, receiving praises by both William and you... I'm humbled.
For those who have an interest in sake, yes I've translated the book in English, it's readily available on a famous e-commerce platform. I had sake on my mind when Marck mentioned he is in Hawaii as "Joy of Sake" (the largest sake tasting outside of Japan) happens there. I'd love to go but Hawaii is not the most accessible place from France...

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Re: Domaine Guillemot-Michel, Burgundy

#16 Post by Mark C Johnson » May 3rd, 2020, 12:59 pm

I have been to "Joy of Sake" numerous times. Very enlightening as to the quality spectrum of sake. I will order your book Gualtier. As an aside, my wife has many Japanese restaurant clients whom we often entertain with wine themed dinners. They often bring me a bottle of sake as an omiyage (gift). I now have a sake section in my wine cellar!

If you do ever decide to make the trek to "Joy of Sake", let me know!
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Re: Domaine Guillemot-Michel, Burgundy

#17 Post by Nathan V. » May 3rd, 2020, 1:48 pm

Gautier, thanks so much for posting. I've been a longtime fan of your wines, like Mike, and met Pierrette and Marc a couple of times, I believe at the Dive Bouteille many years ago. Although the wines are scarce in my market (North Carolina) I've always been able to count on getting some from my friend David Lillie at Chambers St. Wines. Just this past December I tried a cuvée that was new to me, called Viré-Clessé Charleston that was superb!

Thanks for the detailed information above. I'll have to try to schedule a visit the next time I am in the area. Salut!
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Re: Domaine Guillemot-Michel, Burgundy

#18 Post by William Kelley » May 4th, 2020, 7:39 am

Gautier, great to read your analysis of muscaté selections of Chardonnay. Of course, as you say, it's hard to know which of many factors account for the aromatic expression of a wine, but the presence of these selections is certainly one of many things that makes the Mâconnais special. It's also poorly understood: a lot of tasters assume that those characteristics are coming from botrytis, I think. Sometimes their reflexive response is negative, as they aren't used to such aromas in Chardonnay, but I have really come to appreciate those qualities, as well as the more extreme "levroutée" style.

Btw, some "muscaté" selections made it to California quite a long time ago as part of the family of Wente selections. Warren Dutton planted some in the 1960s in Rued Vineyard in the Russian River. So any "Rued clone" Chardonnays from California will display some of the aromatic qualities of the Muscaté selections in the Mâconnais. Rivers-Marie just started making a Rued Chardonnay that exemplifies that.
Gautier Roussille wrote:
May 3rd, 2020, 5:26 am
unfortunately many wines of the appellation are "tainted" with very technical winemaking (selected yeast and so on [head-bang.gif] ).
You are pulling your punches, because selected yeasts are really the least of the problem. Chemical farming, excess yields, machine harvesting, enzymatic clarification, acid/sugar adjustments, and aggressive filtration would all be higher on my list of problems than selected yeasts.
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Re: Domaine Guillemot-Michel, Burgundy

#19 Post by Gautier Roussille » May 4th, 2020, 10:02 am

William, I had no idea, I should try and taste some if I ever encounter a bottle of that! It's always fun how varieties travel like Carmenere in Chili or that one time someone showed me their gewürztraminer in New Zealand and it was Savagnin rose...

Yes, yes, the list of terribles thing done to grappes is endless and they seem to find new means of torture every year. The most recent around here seems to be a kind of hormone sprayed on the vines that double the volume of the grappes. No idea what it is, pretty sure it's not legal... I mentioned selected yeast as many use the aromatic kind that really distort the aromatic profile of a variety or appellation. In terms of general quality everything you cited and probably other stuff are a much bigger problem than neutral selected yeast.

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Re: Domaine Guillemot-Michel, Burgundy

#20 Post by Fred Bower » May 4th, 2020, 10:11 am

My local retailer introduced me to Guillemot-Michel over ten years ago. I love the wine you are producing and am so pleased to have your voice here.

Cheers,
fred

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Re: Domaine Guillemot-Michel, Burgundy

#21 Post by Otto Forsberg » May 4th, 2020, 10:54 am

Gautier Roussille wrote:
May 4th, 2020, 10:02 am
William, I had no idea, I should try and taste some if I ever encounter a bottle of that! It's always fun how varieties travel like Carmenere in Chili or that one time someone showed me their gewürztraminer in New Zealand and it was Savagnin rose...
Well, actually *pushes glasses up the nose* Gewürztraminer is Savagnin Rosé. From the DNA point of view they are identical - the only thing is that Gewürztraminer is a musque mutation of Savagnin Rosé.

The only thing that is weird here is why the Kiwi vignerons call their Savagnin Rosé "Gewürztraminer" if there is no "würz" there? It's just Traminer/Savagnin if it's not an aromatic mutation!

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Re: Domaine Guillemot-Michel, Burgundy

#22 Post by dbailey » May 4th, 2020, 12:16 pm

Otto Forsberg wrote:
May 4th, 2020, 10:54 am
Gautier Roussille wrote:
May 4th, 2020, 10:02 am
William, I had no idea, I should try and taste some if I ever encounter a bottle of that! It's always fun how varieties travel like Carmenere in Chili or that one time someone showed me their gewürztraminer in New Zealand and it was Savagnin rose...
Well, actually *pushes glasses up the nose* Gewürztraminer is Savagnin Rosé. From the DNA point of view they are identical - the only thing is that Gewürztraminer is a musque mutation of Savagnin Rosé.

The only thing that is weird here is why the Kiwi vignerons call their Savagnin Rosé "Gewürztraminer" if there is no "würz" there? It's just Traminer/Savagnin if it's not an aromatic mutation!
Otto breaks the wine geek internet!!!! champagne.gif
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Re: Domaine Guillemot-Michel, Burgundy

#23 Post by Gautier Roussille » May 4th, 2020, 12:38 pm

Otto, you'r exactly right (even though if their is a mutation the DNA is not 100% identical, just pushing the boundaries of splitting hairs here :D ), just an aromatic mutation, that's why the nurseryman mistook one for the other I guess. Or maybe he thought his kiwi customer wouldn't realise the difference (which he didn't)...
"Savagnin rosé" is not exactly an easy brand to sell so I believe that he kept selling it as Gewürztraminer.

Thanks Marck, will let you know for sure if that happen! Don't sit on your sake for too long, Japanese ppl tend to offer prestigious sake (ginjo/daiginjo) and the most common version of those don't age too well. But maybe you already know that.
Thanks Nathan, David and Eben are wonderful ppl, I'l try to tell you more about our "Charleston" cuvée soon.

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Re: Domaine Guillemot-Michel, Burgundy

#24 Post by Nathan V. » May 4th, 2020, 1:16 pm

Fred Bower wrote:
May 4th, 2020, 10:11 am
My local retailer introduced me to Guillemot-Michel over ten years ago. I love the wine you are producing and am so pleased to have your voice here.

Cheers,
fred
Really? I haven't seen those wines in the market. The only time I saw it listed in an NC book it was an older vintage and they are a big distributor that I didn't do business and don't trust their storage of wine so didn't bother. A NC ABC brand search shows nada and that usually shows even wines where that were once registered but are no longer in the market (they show as "Inactive").

I'd love to track them down in the event that we are able to re-open the restaurant post COVID.
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Re: Domaine Guillemot-Michel, Burgundy

#25 Post by Otto Forsberg » May 4th, 2020, 1:48 pm

Gautier Roussille wrote:
May 4th, 2020, 12:38 pm
Otto, you'r exactly right (even though if their is a mutation the DNA is not 100% identical, just pushing the boundaries of splitting hairs here :D )
That is true as well, but from what I've understood the differences such as musqué mutation (Traminer vs. Gewürztraminer) or lack of pigmentation (Pinot Noir vs. Pinot Blanc, or Grenache vs. Grenache Blanc) are so minuscule that you can't tell the two varieties apart from each other and their DNAs appear identical. It's like the DNA of an identical sibling: it is not actually 100% identical, only at the level of - just like you said - splitting hairs. :D

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Re: Domaine Guillemot-Michel, Burgundy

#26 Post by Otto Forsberg » May 4th, 2020, 1:49 pm

dbailey wrote:
May 4th, 2020, 12:16 pm
Otto breaks the wine geek internet!!!! champagne.gif
I hope I didn't! If I did, I'd that'd happen like three four times a week. [wink.gif]

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Re: Domaine Guillemot-Michel, Burgundy

#27 Post by William Kelley » May 4th, 2020, 10:22 pm

Gautier Roussille wrote:
May 4th, 2020, 10:02 am
William, I had no idea, I should try and taste some if I ever encounter a bottle of that!
I'll try to bring one to Burgundy next time I fly to France from CA. I have maybe two cases of Californian wine, old and young, in my cellar in Beaune.
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Re: Domaine Guillemot-Michel, Burgundy

#28 Post by Fred Bower » May 5th, 2020, 7:56 am

Nathan V. wrote:
May 4th, 2020, 1:16 pm
Fred Bower wrote:
May 4th, 2020, 10:11 am
My local retailer introduced me to Guillemot-Michel over ten years ago. I love the wine you are producing and am so pleased to have your voice here.

Cheers,
fred
Really? I haven't seen those wines in the market. The only time I saw it listed in an NC book it was an older vintage and they are a big distributor that I didn't do business and don't trust their storage of wine so didn't bother. A NC ABC brand search shows nada and that usually shows even wines where that were once registered but are no longer in the market (they show as "Inactive").

I'd love to track them down in the event that we are able to re-open the restaurant post COVID.
The last vintage I recall getting was 2012. I expect that we lost them after that. I don't recall them carrying an NC importer sticker - i.e. they were being brought in by a more national importer.

Cheers,
fred

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Re: Domaine Guillemot-Michel, Burgundy

#29 Post by Gautier Roussille » May 5th, 2020, 8:33 am

Thanks William, that would be amazing!
Nathan, our importer is based in Virginia so I'm appalled you can't find our wines in NC... I know we have distribution issues in the US and I've tried to improve things lately (even if I don't have much leverage) but the tariff and virus didn't help.

So to give you a little more information about our "Charleston" cuvée.
First you have to know that I used to work for a Burgundy cooperage. I was in charge of sales and providing technical consultancy for our distributors and customers. It was a lot of fun, especially in Oregon, I really loved the place and the people there, would have probably settle there if I didn't met my wife.

Second thing to know, my in-laws really don't like wood in wines. I think they didn't like it to begin with but 30years of wood-free winemaking didn't help. As for myself, I've seen both end of the woody wine world, from beautifuly integrated woodiness elevating the wine to Pinocchio wines that leave you with splinters all around the mouth (Austrian winemakers were the best at it, telling me they didn't like this style of wine but that it was "what the market demands"...). I must say eventhough I can appreciate well integrated wood, tasting new barrels year-long I kind of grew tired of overly oaked wines (but still love good Bourbon... I've stopped trying to understand myself) especially new wood.
So one of the first thing I wanted to bring to the estate was my oak experience but at the same time I knew it was a tricky subject.

I knew that Pierrette's grandfather used to make wine before founding the coop and given what was available and affordable back then he had to use wood. Asking Pierrette and here mother I discovered that he used old demi-muid (600L barrels). That was a good start. Further inquiring, I found that the oldest vines we had was the one he planted coming back from WW1 close to a century ago (more now). There was something there.

Turned out, we still had around half an hectare of these vines on three blocks. So I went to check on them in more details as I've never really noticed (remember I went back to work on the estate in 2017 and this was 2016), and I tasted the wines from the different blocks.

Raverettes seemed to be the best candidate. It's the closest block from the house, next to the orchard and the vegetable garden, with a subsoil of marl and topsoil of silts.
So in 2016, we extracted 600L from our press in the old vines part of the raverettes block (that mean some of the "Charleston" juice still goes into our classic "Quintaine" cuvée). And barrelled it down in a 2004 demi-muid I got from De Montille where I was working at the time

(To be continued...)
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Re: Domaine Guillemot-Michel, Burgundy

#30 Post by Nathan V. » May 5th, 2020, 9:09 am

Gautier Roussille wrote:
May 5th, 2020, 8:33 am
Thanks William, that would be amazing!
Nathan, our importer is based in Virginia so I'm appalled you can't find our wines in NC... I know we have distribution issues in the US and I've tried to improve things lately (even if I don't have much leverage) but the tariff and virus didn't help.

So to give you a little more information about our "Charleston" cuvée.
First you have to know that I used to work for a Burgundy cooperage. I was in charge of sales and providing technical consultancy for our distributors and customers. It was a lot of fun, especially in Oregon, I really loved the place and the people there, would have probably settle there if I didn't met my wife.

Second thing to know, my in-laws really don't like wood in wines. I think they didn't like it to begin with but 30years of wood-free winemaking didn't help. As for myself, I've seen both end of the woody wine world, from beautifuly integrated woodiness elevating the wine to Pinocchio wines that leave you with splinters all around the mouth (Austrian winemakers were the best at it, telling me they didn't like this style of wine but that it was "what the market demands"...). I must say eventhough I can appreciate well integrated wood, tasting new barrels year-long I kind of grew tired of overly oaked wines (but still love good Bourbon... I've stopped trying to understand myself) especially new wood.
So one of the first thing I wanted to bring to the estate was my oak experience but at the same time I knew it was a tricky subject.

I knew that Pierrette's grandfather used to make wine before founding the coop and given what was available and affordable back then he had to use wood. Asking Pierrette and here mother I discovered that he used old demi-muid (600L barrels). That was a good start. Further inquiring, I found that the oldest vines we had was the one he planted coming back from WW1 close to a century ago (more now). There was something there.

Turned out, we still had around half an hectare of these vines on three blocks. So I went to check on them in more details as I've never really noticed (remember I went back to work on the estate in 2017 and this was 2016), and I tasted the wines from the different blocks.

Raverettes seemed to be the best candidate. It's the closest block from the house, next to the orchard and the vegetable garden, with a subsoil of marl and topsoil of silts.
So in 2016, we extracted 600L from our press in the old vines part of the raverettes block (that mean some of the "Charleston" juice still goes into our classic "Quintaine" cuvée). And barrelled it down in a 2004 demi-muid I got from De Montille where I was working at the time

(To be continued...)
Thank you! These are great details to know! It looks like your wines are brought in through Kysela (who I imagine is your national importer) but the book appears to be split among a couple of different NC distributors. It is listed as Pierrette Et Marc Guillemont Michel, which is why I couldn't find it when I searched the NC ABC database for Guillemot... (to find it, I searched under Kysela). Your wines are with a distributor that I don't do business with but if we re-open, I'll ask to see what they have in stock.
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Re: Domaine Guillemot-Michel, Burgundy

#31 Post by joz€f p1nxten » May 5th, 2020, 11:13 am

Great write-up Gautier. Fascinating insights, and very well written. I rarely go south past Chagny / Rully, but this makes me curious, very curious. I will make a note, maybe to visit over summer if the quarantine is over.
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Re: Domaine Guillemot-Michel, Burgundy

#32 Post by Gautier Roussille » May 6th, 2020, 2:20 pm

Thanks for pointing this out Nathan, I told Kysela so they can maybe try to get this fixed!
Thank you Jozef, you'll be most welcome.

« Charleston » part2
So we had this 600L of century-old vines juice gently fermenting in this 12yo demi-muid. We had to find a spot for the demi-muid, but the only barrel cellar we had was the spirit one and it was not suited for wine, especially for fermenting juice (temperature, humidity, hygiene, access to water…). So we moved some pallets of bottled wine in the ageing cellar, just behind the fermentation cellar, close to the door, and set up a small pedestal for the demi-muid there. Fermentation went slowly but steadily, as often with our yeasts (always indigenous, but the fermentation dynamic being stable from one year to another, I’m pretty sure we have more or less the same every year) but due to the late harvesting date the cellar started to cool down quickly, which could have halted the fermentation.

You should know that, just as in Puligny-Montrachet, there is no fully underground cellar in Quintaine due to underground water in the village (on the plus side we have countless wells!). Being built on the hill, our cellar is only partially underground: you enter at ground level on one side (on this side we have the labeling room and the fermentation cellar) and you find yourself underground on the other side (ageing cellar). Hence we have slightly more temperature variations across seasons than deep underground cellar (like, say the chateau de Passe-Temps in Santenay with its crazy several storey cellar, firefighters train for caves interventions there…) but it’s not really an issue, as long as you don’t try fermenting in small vessels… Secondly I must mention we finished harvesting grapes on October 12th 2016 and got married on Octobre 15th… That tells you how late the harvest was, we hadn’t harvested in October in decades so we were pretty confident when we choose this date.

With the cellar cooling down we looked for all the old blankets we could find and covered the demi-muid. Now that we also have jars, it became a trademark technique and we raided all the local Salvation Army shops for old blankets, our cellar is super kitsch in winter time!

After a year spent in the demi-muid, we choose to keep the wine in a tank for a few month more. This has several benefit. First, we can keep our demi-muid full at all time, which contain the risk of microbial contamination, allowing us to use the same demi-muid for many years more: the wine stays in from harvest to harvest, we rack out the exact day we have our new juice ready, clean the barrel and refill immediately (some even put the new juice on the old lees, we don’t). Secondly a period of tank aging after wood aging lower the amount of dissolved oxygen at bottling and in terms of tasting helps better integrate the wood (I experienced this countless time when I was a barrel rep).

Bottling happened in February 2018, just in time to celebrate the 100 years of this vineyard planted in 1918. We struggled for the wine name. My wife and mother in law wanted a name referring to the vines ages. They proposed « the old ladies » which made me think about an old aunt you don’t want to kiss on Christmas, I thought about « les poilus » (=« hairy men » as were called WWI french fighters), they found it too warmongering. We looked for something more cheerful and festive that reminded us of the time where these vines first gave wine and « Charleston » came to mind. We loved it because it came from the US just like our vines rootstock but mostly because according to Wikipedia, Charleston can be « danced in many permutations: alone (solo), with a partner, or in groups » which sounded great for a nice bottle of wine!

Now that I came to know this wine better I have the intuition that we could also have called it « mu » which is the void concept in Buddhism. These vines have their how pace, undisturbed by the passing of seasons and time. They don’t seem to be changed by the rain or the sun, they know, and they make a wine that is out of this world.

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Re: Domaine Guillemot-Michel, Burgundy

#33 Post by Gautier Roussille » May 7th, 2020, 10:54 am

Before anyone else ask me question about something I'll just take a few line to close (or complete at least) the terroir question.

As I previously mentionned, thanks to the consolidation work done by my in-laws, we are fortunate to work on 6.5 ha divided in 7 blocks. This gives us large enough plots to create natural barriers (hedges, paths, etc. .) to mitigate the border effects. As a matter of fact, we only have only 8 block sides with direct neighbors (out of a potential 7x4=28). Here are a few words about these blocks:

Champ-Rond 2.7ha
Our largest block, it descends gently along the hillside from the forest to the large hedge planted by Pierrette and Marc. A large vein of limestone outcrops diagonally (N-S) in the block. It is a kind of yellow Limestone, extremely hard and compact (sometimes I can't break through despite the crowbar). Its rare cracks are surprisingly filled with small translucent crystals resembling quartz (probably calcite). The crowbar generally break the limestone along these pre-existing cracks. This block forms the heart of our wines, we consider it the “doctor” block: the wine is always good, more consistent between vintages than in other blocks.
On the bottom of the hill, a small, more clayey pocket is present. From this pocket, we draw our “Return to the Earth” cuvée (grapes growing in clay and aged in a clay jar, terracotta). This late-ripening part is always picked on the last day of harvest. It's also in this part that we have been conducting our ungrafted vines planting trials since 2017.

Champ-Choley 0.8 ha
Close to Champ-Rond but a little higher on the hillside, towards Clessé (South), this block shares most of its characteristics with Champ-Rond. At its summit lay an abandoned quarry where we can observe its outcropping limestone subsoil. For years the Michel family had two trades: vines and stones. Quintaine stones were extracted until the end of the 19th century and renowned from Dijon to Lyon for the manufacture of fireplaces.

Le Chêne (=the oak)1.5ha
Further down the hill, a little below the village, this stony block produces very aromatic wines. But due to the thin soil, grapes ripen in the blink of an eye and we must therefore monitor them very closely in order to pick on the exact right day, avoiding cooked aromas and retaining freshness. Here the limestone is very hard, very close to the surface, but more fragmented, forming stones the size of a fist, polished by water infiltration. As a consequence, the vine roots find their way deep into the ground, between the stones.

Image
view from the Chêne, with a clear sky you can see the Mont Blanc (highest mountain in Europe) from here on the left. (Almost everyday at sunrise)

Raverettes 1ha
This block is the closest to the estate, after the fruit garden and the orchard, on the hillside flatter part. Here, the limestone outcrops toward the east, s it gets closer to "Le Chêne", however the mother rock is marly. We distinguish several smaller blocks in this plot: mimi, jean, cochet, millat ..." 's vines" named after a former owner or the one who planted the block. Among these, the hundred-year-old vines planted by Sophie's great grandfather, part of which is selected for our "Charleston" cuvée.

Saint-Trivier Chapel 0.5ha
We generally distinguish three sub-blocks here: Pesselières 0.2ha, Cordonières 0.1ha and Lie-Monin 0.2ha. Pesselières has the most active limestone of the estate. Its flush white limestones and exposure to prevailing winds give it an austere appearance. The earth itself is bleached by limestone dust which mixes with the topsoil silt. This block sit next to the local chapel, facing north.
Cordonières is one of our oldest vines from which we select our grafts to replace the missing feet. They are located under the Chapel, facing East.
The Lie-Monin with its soil rich in red clay (ferrous) is the plot from which our "Bulle" (sparkling) comes. Its subsoil is made up of a kind of limestone arena: limestone being eroded like coarse sand with pieces ranging from a few millimeters to a few centimeters. We take advantage of the fact that our "Bulle" doesn't qualify for the appellation (ancestral method is not allowed in the "Crémant" AOC) to replant heirloom varieties here (Gouais blanc,Plant vert, different types of Gamay, Roublot, Tressot, etc.)


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Re: Domaine Guillemot-Michel, Burgundy

#34 Post by Dan Sch » May 15th, 2020, 6:30 pm

Really nice timing on this write up here as the neighborhood shop that stocks your wines just reopened.

I grabbed a couple bottles and really enjoyed the one I opened last night (2016 Quintaine). This had a lot to offer, was quite forward and rich but also full of just enough tension. Great stuff and thanks for turning me on to your wines!
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Re: Domaine Guillemot-Michel, Burgundy

#35 Post by dcornutt » May 16th, 2020, 2:56 am

Thank you for this wonderful discussion. I am fascinated by this. Hoping to try the wines soon.
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Re: Domaine Guillemot-Michel, Burgundy

#36 Post by Gautier Roussille » May 17th, 2020, 2:12 am

Hello and thank you guys,
Dan, glad you enjoyed our 2016 Quintaine! As I said above, this vintage is on the exotic side, if you try 15 or 17 for an exemple you'll have. different experience (that I hope you'll enjoy too!).

I'm sorry I didn't post for a few days, we are full on growing season with a very early vintages on our hands which mean that we have to do everything at the same time. So I'll just take the opportunity it's Sunday morning and the wife is still asleep to post a few things about what we are doing now.

So we just finished the first round of hand weeding of the season: after harvest we mound (if that's the right term: plow to bring some topsoil on the vines forming a small mound, less than 10cm) to protect, this protect the grafting point from winter cold, allow us to demount in the spring, effectively removing the weeds that grew during winter from the row (underneath the vines) and we consider that it also have some benefits in terms of energy flow. So in the spring, as soon as the soil is ready (dry enough but not too much, our soil really need us to be precise on the plowing days and plough type) we de-mound in two steps with the tractor. The third step is by hand and while we do that we cut all the roots that grew from the grafted vine during winter. If we were to let these grow, the grafted vines would then emancipate from its rootstock (letting it to die and rely on its own, newly formed root) and eventually die from phylloxera. Once this is done we bring back some top soil again to obtain a more or less flat surface. During the growing season we'll come back again 1-3 time depending on the weather to weed again, by hand and/or tractor. Our most troublesome weed are thistle and bindweed that are f*ing hydras (take a piece, put it in soil, it'll grow in no time).

So now this is done and it's time to take care of the vine itself with green pruning, cutting the "courant" and spraying. Today I'd like to say a few words about spraying.

I could classify our spraying in three categories that are permeable:
-Organic (copper and sulfur)
-Biodynamic
-Phytotherapy


Copper and sulfur are the base of our anti-mildew spraying (our main pests are mildew, downy mildew in dry years and more recently black rot but this one is more sensitive to the copper sulfur combo than the 2 other so it's generally not an issue for us). It needs to be sprayed from when the mildew eggs are ripe (generally around 5-7 leaves but depending on the season it could be a little earlier) until "veraison" (when the grappes soften and turn colours, at that point the grapes stomata are close, the mold can't get in anymore so the grapes are safe) before it rains (the rain spreads the spores so they need to reach a part of a leave covered with copper or sulfur depending on the type). We need to renew the spray every time it's washed away by the rain (up to 20mm depending on condition) or if the plant grew so much that the spray has been spread thin.
We try to use as low a dose as the season permit. Eventhough it's more work we prefer very small dose with "frequent" spraying than large quantities at once. In order to lower our doses to the minimum, we purchased a new tractor and a new, more efficient sprayer last year. Same technology as the previous one (side by side spraying) but with the little extra power that allow to micronise further the spray thus reducing the quantities.

Last week, we had 3 days of rain that washed out the previous spray and we had a 1 day window for spraying before another large rain. I was a little bothered because we had a 30mm rain forecast for Monday and I knew that if I sprayed I'd be covered but then all my spray would be washed out and I'd have to spray twice in just a couple of days. So I decided not to use copper/sulfur but out phytotherapy spray.

Image
Sophie harvesting flowers of Matricaria chamomilla

Phytotherapy is obviously not as efficient as copper/sulfur (but very helpful and complementary) so you need to be very precise with what you do and you need to constantly adjust. At Domaine Guillemot-Michel we cultivate or gather around 50 varieties of plants that we use dry or fresh in teas or fermented extract (also some essential oils but let's discuss that later).

Some are used for their fertiliser-like properties (not quantitative, with plant we always work to provide stimulus) some for their pest-control properties. Last Sunday I used the following mix:
-thyme, oregano, savory (tomato, ham... no that's my pizza recipe) this is straightforward anti fungal.
-horsetail: horsetail has a high silica content like many plants that grow in a wet environment (rice too for an exemple). It Harden the plant, FYI: the 501 biodynamic preparation (that we use too) is also silica but mineral, the vegetal quality of the horsetail silica makes it easier to absorb by the vines).
-fern: the above plants are used dried in teas, as a consequence they lack a "fresh" quality that we bring with the fern that is fermented while fresh, the vine is more receptive to the mixture thanks to it.

More later.
Last edited by Gautier Roussille on June 10th, 2020, 2:36 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Domaine Guillemot-Michel, Burgundy

#37 Post by Gautier Roussille » May 22nd, 2020, 6:28 am

So, as I said, I sprayed phytotherapy on Sunday and, as forecasted, we got rain from Sunday night to Wednesday.

We had a little pause in the rain on Tuesday an we took the opportunity to spray a 501 preparation (a biodynamic preparation of silica). We generally try to spray it more or less three times in the spring in wet weather to harden the plant that tend to become a little flaccid when we have several days of rain. This is one more building block in our anti-mildew spraying program.

Our soils are really slippery when wet and after this kind of rain we need some time before we can enter the vineyard with a tractor (all the biodynamic preparation are sprayed by hand so it wasn't an issue on Tuesday). However, we couldn't wait too long as the previous spraying was long washed away and the downy mildew was lurking. Unfortunately the only two person capable of driving our new spraying tractor are:
1/my wife who gave birth a month ago champagne.gif but is obviously in no condition to drive a tractor for another few weeks
2/my father in law whom we just learned on Wednesday needed to get surgery by Friday...

Soooo... I was the only one left and even if I drove our old, smaller and more maneuverable spraying tractor a few time, I never did it on such slippery ground. [help.gif]
On Thursday evening I went to our wettest block with my father in law and it seemed manageable so on Friday morning I hopped on the tractor and began on of the longest swear-laden drive of my life...
Little did I realized but the north wind had dried the part I thought would be wet ... leaving the protected area slippery as ever.

Well well well long story short, when I was done, the tractor and its sprayer looked like a squished spider (when you don't bang them repetitively on the vine posts, the spraying pots are supposed to hang vertically from the back of the tractor...), I had to finish the last few row by hand at 7pm and I spent the next few days repairing the sprayer and the broken wires in the vineyard. [oops.gif]

We'll have another rainy day tomorrow, meaning 'll probably be spraying again on Monday or Tuesday...wish me luck.
For those who wonder: to date we are really happy with our spraying program results. The vines are perfectly healthy, the flowers should be in full bloom this weekend (hope the rain won't be an issue) and we have yet to find traces of contamination. This means there is a good chance this weekend will be the first contamination of the year which is a late start and we can be hopeful for the vintage.

I thought you'd enjoy this little story that is a reminder that despite the luxury and glamorous glow some try to give wine, it's still farming and those who make it will always have their hand in beautiful and tasty dirt. [cheers.gif]
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Re: Domaine Guillemot-Michel, Burgundy

#38 Post by William Kelley » May 22nd, 2020, 7:28 am

That sounds like quite an ordeal!
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Re: Domaine Guillemot-Michel, Burgundy

#39 Post by Otto Forsberg » May 22nd, 2020, 10:39 am

Thanks for the update! Hopefully the weather will get better and a bit less rainy!

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Re: Domaine Guillemot-Michel, Burgundy

#40 Post by Robert.A.Jr. » May 24th, 2020, 10:47 am

Really enjoyed reading this thread on this lazy Sunday. Not sure how I stumbled across it, but if William and Otto enjoy these wines, sounds like they need to be tried! Where are they available in the States?

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Re: Domaine Guillemot-Michel, Burgundy

#41 Post by Gautier Roussille » May 24th, 2020, 12:54 pm

Hello Robert, unfortunately and to my shame, I'm not really aware of where our wines can be found in Florida. I believe you can ask your local retailer to source some from our national importer (Kysela, VA), or if they ship to FL, you can ask Chambers street wines in NY or Timeless (VA, they don't seem to be well rated on this board).
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Re: Domaine Guillemot-Michel, Burgundy

#42 Post by Gautier Roussille » May 31st, 2020, 1:54 pm

A little update for Otto!
So we got the forecasted 10mm but the soil was dry enough that it got absorbed overnight and the following spraying was a bliss. However we had quite a dry weather from this point on with North winds that got us a little worried about our younglings.

Weather has been a little upside down this year again with huge amounts of rain in the South (if you like Languedoc-Roussillon wines 2020 doesn't start out well) and a dry weather here so they've got our mildew and we've got their downy (eventhough we haven't seen it yet, it tend to hit late and hard so careful...).

We are on the verge of a wet week which isn't all that bad given that it might compensate a little for the north wind weather we had (loosing up to 8mm of rain a day!!). It won't be that rainy (1-3mm/day for 7-10days) but continuously wet so the water will probably not reach the roots but the leafs will be able to take some. It could be a problem if we had mildew but it's not the case and the timing isn't too bad as flowers are finishing so we're past the most critical point (in 2016, a really though year for an exemple, at this point the mildew was already munching at the grapes). Now we'll see if everything goes as forecasted.

FYI if everything goes in a more or less normal way we should start harvesting around septembre 1st which is in line with recent vintages (15, 17, 18, 19).

We're done cutting the courants and we've done a first round of trellising (hurried by the wind that could break some shoots). Tommorow morning I'll do a little topping on the parts that grew the most. We always do it by hand here, first round is easy, depending on the season we have to do it twice or three times. The third topping can be really hard as the shoots are already harden. First year my wrist looked like a chicken egg had grown under the skin and I couldn't hold cutlery for over a week. blush

We also started to see grapes worms, they make their little nest by agregating a dozen of small flowers/grapes together. It's not a big problem if it's just a few of them but too many can loose you some fruits and also, by damaging the ripe fruits, they can bring in some acetic bacteria (which is never a good thing for quality if you're not careful with fermentation). Depending on what we see this week we might try to spray some repellent plant extract (fermented fern could be an option). [stirthepothal.gif]

All in all, for now we have a pretty good season on our hands but I'll keep my fingers crossed as long as the wine is not in the bottle... [berserker.gif]

Note to myself: let's talk a little about what's happening in the cellar next time. blahblah
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Re: Domaine Guillemot-Michel, Burgundy

#43 Post by Otto Forsberg » May 31st, 2020, 2:41 pm

Thanks for the update! Keep 'em coming, always interesting stuff to read!

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Re: Domaine Guillemot-Michel, Burgundy

#44 Post by Gautier Roussille » June 4th, 2020, 8:21 am

So, about the cellar!

First about the still wines.
As said before we don't do much in between vatting and bottling but a lot happen in the tank nevertheless. We currently have our 2019 Quintaine, Retour à la Terre and Charleston respectively in cement tank, terracotta jar and demi-muid and to the exception of Charleston, everything went through alcoholic fermentation pretty smoothly: most of the fermentation finished around the first days of December and 2 finished in February (3-5 months fermentation, pretty standard for us). Charleston 19 is currently at 3.95g RS and is loosing 0.5 every three weeks so we'll get there...
The Malo seems a little more complicated as only on tank (out of three, half vintage due to April's 11 nights of frost) and Charleston are done. However we have hopes as with spring fermentation always tend to start again and we can see both by the bubbles getting out of the tank and by the chromatography we do on a regular basis that the malo is happening.

If you didn't major in chemistry during high school and wonder, chromatography is a simple analysis method in which we dry some wine in a single spot on a paper then let the base of the paper soak in a special solution (acetic acid, butanol and Bromophenol blue). The solution rise along the paper through capillarity, carrying the wine's acids. The larger acid move slower than the smaller acid so the tartaric stays at the bottom, the malic acid move to the middle and the lactic (which is derived from the malic through malolactic fermentation: malo=>lactic, hence smaller) reaches the top. When the solution reach the top of the paper, we take it out and let it dry. Thank to the bromophenol blue that act as a pH indicator, the acid appears as yellow (the rest of the paper is colorod blue thanks to the.... bromophenol "blue"). By looking at the yellow spot, we know what's happening: [stirthepothal.gif]
-1 spot at the bottom + 1 in the middle: malo didn't strt
-1 spot at the bottom + 1 in the middle + 1 at the top: malo is happening, the spots deep or light color being an indicator of the % of completion
-1 spot at the bottom + 1 at the top: malo is done.

We usually bottle in July so the big question right now is, do we order cork and how many? Will we bottle tank 2 alone? Will tank 1&3 finish malo soon enough to be bottled with tank 2 or will we harvest with full tank (that wouldn't be a first so we have plenty of tank space for that reason) and bottle tank 1&3 later in a separate lot? Schedule is tight and we need to know soon, so I'm looking at my tank morning and evening and doing chromato every few days. [worship.gif]

Similar issue with our Terracotta jar but there one completed malo and 2 didn't start so we mixed all three in order to kick-start malo. This works in two ways. First by doing so you "inoculate" the malo bacteria from your jar that completed malo into the jar that didn't start malo. Secondly you raise your pH, this probably necessitate a little deeper explanation:
Malolactic fermentation raise the pH of wines because the lactic acid is a weaker acid than malic acid. That's why some, mainly in warm areas or areas with lots of potassium (NZ for one) block malo with sulfites. BUT the lactic bacteria that do the fermentation are killed and inhibited by acids. So the more acid you have (and the more you want to raise your pH though malo) the more difficult it gets to actually go through malo (opposite is also true). A few days ago, one of our largest importer (both by volume and stature, the man is a living giant) who couldn't travel to France as he usually do to book a quantity of the future vintage asked me to send a tank sample with some analysis. Among the analyses was pH and I was impressed with the number :3,00. This number will change slightly before bottling through CO2 leaving the wine (yep CO2 is an acid and that's surprising but if you know enough chemistry to find it surprising you probably know enough to understand why) and tartaric natural precipitation so I expect us to have a final wine pH around 3.5/3.10 which is not unusual for the estate (generally in the 3.10-3.20 range) as 2015 was 3.07, but still impressive for such a warm year.
I do believe that the low yield (frost) really concentrated the extract on the grapes and wine and that this is one of the reasons (together with our cultivation methods that allow us to retain a great acidity in our wines but that's every year). So 2019, low pH, malo don't want to start.

My skin contact 60L trial also won't go through malo but I can bottle this one whenever I please and I don't plan to use sulfites at any point with this one so I'm not really troubled by it.

Yes, when the malo is done we'll use a little sulfur to stabilize the wine. For a vintage with such beautiful healthy grapes and low pH we'll use around 1.5g/hL (that could go up to 2-2.5 depending on the vintage). We'll want not to use any at bottling but if necessary we'll add a little more to ensure bottle stability but also to help protect from the oxygen we'll necessarily get at bottling (even-though a lot of progress have been made thanks to neutral gas filling the bottle before we put any wine in). We don't use commercial sulfites but rather source volcanic sulfur, a yellow mineral you find on volcanoes (if you've ever been to a hot spring you probably saw some), and burn it in a small device, creating S02 gas that we bubble directly into the wine. We find this alchemy-style method to be more natural, more efficient, and gentler on the wine. It is however a little dangerous if you're not careful (flame + oxygen bottle...) and a much less handy than ready-made, industrial metabisulfites solution.

Ok, I'll tell you about sparkling and spirits next time.
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Re: Domaine Guillemot-Michel, Burgundy

#45 Post by Gautier Roussille » June 10th, 2020, 8:11 am

Ok, so here is something a little special about the estate, since 2012 we are the last Burgundy estate to own and operate a still to distillate our own Marc and Fine.
This might not last long however as we can really fell a new wave of quality Burgundy spirit after decades of rotgut.

In France, winemakers had an obligation to give back a certain quantity of alcohol to the state. This was meant partly as a tax and partly as a quality control: if you need to give some alcohol to the state, you better not over-press your grapes, make "piquette" (adding water to the marc after pressing) or filtrate your lees but just give away these distilled residues. But one had a choice to either give the alcohol to the state or sale it himself, paying heavy alcohol duties that would compensate for the undelivered alcohol. Most choose to deliver the alcohol though as consumption trends drove consumers toward the big brands and away from the local, traditional spirits (drinking whisky and exporting Cognac... don't ask me why.)

Nowadays, the state has less use for neutral alcohol and the concerns of the time have changed so winemakers still have an obligation to transform their residue but the focus is more on sustainability and we can also methanize or compost, etc.
Large distilling company are slowly closing due to the state lower alcohol buying price and Europe lower handouts (we still see some crisis distillation measure, as in 2020, a lot of wine will probably be distilled in Europe this year due to Covid) and many itinerant stills are closing as distiller retire. However a new generation of craft distiller appears, often focus on organic, local products, supported by new consumption trends (white spirits like gin, micro-brewing, etc.). Moreover a young generation of (mainly organic) producers is more and more concerned about "wasting" their residue to industrial alcohol.

I believe very few (if any) will go all the way to distilling themselves as we decided to, as the paperwork is maddening and the extra work is heavy especially compared to the financial benefits. However the quality benefits are immeasurable.

So first, let's see why most Marc and Fine have been of dubious quality (to say the least) these past decades:

1/Contract distilling
Even if contract distillers are good distillers, it should be obvious that contracted work is never as good as work you do yourself. It's especially true in the distilling world fr several reason. The first is that a Marc should be distilled as soon as fermentation is over. (If you wonder Marc is the leftover from the press). Either white or red, a Marc doesn't contain much liquid and is hence very susceptible to oxidation, acetic fermentation (vinegar) and other terrible stuff. But in a given region, more or less everybody press at the same time so the Marc has to wait for the contract distiller to be available, hence spoilage. Secondly, contract distillers are paid by the volume. Hence they are prone to keep most of the distillate in the final product when a good chunk of it should be set aside (heads and tails). This is especially true of the Marc that can be quite rustic if you are not extremely precise in your cuts. Of course you could make a special deal with the contract distiller for a different payment structure, to my knowledge, nobody yet went to this extent to make a quality, contract-distilled Marc. Third, to make this job a profitable one (we are speaking basic level of making a living) they need efficient, large still. Most contract distiller use vapor injection still with three boiling pots, and often replaced the copper parts with easier-to-clean stainless. With this kind of still you can't get the result you'd have with a smaller, time-consuming, pot or hybrid still.

2/Laziness and cost control
Ideally, Marc should be made from de-stemmed white grapes (stems give the Marc an harsh, dry profile and white marc produce slightly more elegant spirits). But most Marc is made with red grapes as you don't need to re-ferment them (red ferment with the marc so you just need to distill it while white marc need to be fermented as it's just pressed fresh gapes) and in Burgundy, red often means stems in. Also, if you want to press a quality white wine, you should press with the stems, that mean that if you want to make a de-stemmed marc afterward you need to destem after pressing, which is quite cumbersome.
Almost no-one bother to make this extra-work as spirits are such a small part of their business and what’s more, a non-profitable one.
For the same reason, the spirit aging is seldom managed. The new make spirit is barrel down in new or recent wood and let for aging until bottling, when sales permit. However in order to get a nicely integrated aging, many elements need to be fine tuned: barreling proof, age of the barrel, aging time, barrel topping, cellar conditions etc. needing time, attention and focus that are seldom provided (again, small, unprofitable part of the business).

3/Negoce
In quantity, most of the spirits that reached the market are bottled by negoces, either specialized in spirits or wine negoce who sale a few barrels of spirits. Here, in addition to the first two issues, we have a third one: raw material quality. As this negoce don’t own a still nor vines, they just buy the new make spirit to large distillery whose main job is to produce industrial alcohol. You can imagine the care given to the raw materials in those places. Add to that the fact the raw material is the one given to the state in payment for the alcohol tax and you can guess the quality and care given by the producers to said materials.

All this is pretty gloom but fortunately, as I said it’s changing. So when my wife came back on the estate, the craft distilling movement hadn’t really reached France yet. But Sophie worked for Hennessy and I interned for Remy-Martin Louis XIII, so distilling grapes was something we were not foreign to. It seemed like a good way to make something new without changing what worked at the estate so we bought a first still in 2012 and a second one the next year. Actually both came from the same itinerant distiller who retired and we bought the second one once we got more confident with the concrete aspects of the project.

With all the above in mind we set out to do something different, and buying our own still was the first step toward that goal. Our two stills are old, burgundy-style copper still. They were built respectively in 1932 and 1952 on the same model. They are small (500L) and wood-fired. The burgundy still is an hybrid still: a pot still with a small rectification colum. This mean that out of the pot, the vapor enters a small column with two platters that force it to take detours, condensing the heaviest vapor that contain more water. With hybrid still we obtain a new make at 55% ABV with only one distilling when if using a simple pot still we’d get a 35% new make that we’d need to re-distill to get a 70-80% new make.
Simply put, double distillation will give you something “purer”, simple distillation will give you something more complex (as long as you don’t have a huge column with 10+ platter that give you 80+% ABV new make) while preserving the raw material (heating twice can deteriorate some finer aromas).

Image

(To be continued)
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Re: Domaine Guillemot-Michel, Burgundy

#46 Post by Gautier Roussille » June 27th, 2020, 1:55 am

Quick update on the vintage.
Weather has been really great, actually so far we can say it has been almost perfect. The vines are super healthy, the bunches are loose (lost some fruits at flowering, which is great for quality) and currently closing down.
We have a rather high heterogeneity between blocks and even inside blocks but this is something we actually appreciate as it will bring some complexity to the final wine (as long as it's not too much...).
We stopped using copper, might stop spraying totally from this week on (one small dose of sulphur on Friday early morning to avoid burning damages with the current hot weather) or just plants to keep black rot at bay.
With the heat comes storms, we escape the first wave yesterday, we'll hope the pattern will repeat itself as your main concerns from now on will be hail (and finding harvesters...).
Excited to have a great vintage for my son birth year :)
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Re: Domaine Guillemot-Michel, Burgundy

#47 Post by Mark C Johnson » June 28th, 2020, 7:22 pm

Sounds like you're having a great growing season Gautier. I hope the weather continues to be helpful for you and your son's first harvest! Thank you for the continuing updates.

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Re: Domaine Guillemot-Michel, Burgundy

#48 Post by Sean S y d n e y » June 30th, 2020, 10:00 am

No surprise, of course, but William Kelley gives warm reviews to all of Guillemot-Michel's 2018 wines in his Mâcon roundup.
Instagram: @seansydney

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Re: Domaine Guillemot-Michel, Burgundy

#49 Post by Gautier Roussille » June 30th, 2020, 12:53 pm

Just checked the release. Always a pleasure to see that a year of work in the vineyard transformed into happiness in the glass [dance-clap.gif]

I also see that William's palate and mine align on Denogent Les Cras 2017, great bottle in my opinion, my box of 6 is already down to 4...
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Re: Domaine Guillemot-Michel, Burgundy

#50 Post by William Kelley » June 30th, 2020, 2:52 pm

Gautier Roussille wrote:
June 30th, 2020, 12:53 pm
Just checked the release. Always a pleasure to see that a year of work in the vineyard transformed into happiness in the glass [dance-clap.gif]

I also see that William's palate and mine align on Denogent Les Cras 2017, great bottle in my opinion, my box of 6 is already down to 4...
Thanks, Gautier. Kudos on your 2018 "Une Bulle" also. As I think I've said in person, if only more Crémant de Bourgogne tasted like that...
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