Burgundy Part IV: Il Paradiso

Philippe Pacalet is a polarizing figure in the Burgundy establishment.  Or maybe outside of it.  I’ll admit I had my doubts, not because I don’t think the wines are delicious, but rather because they cost so much damn money.

It was worth a closer look:

The only mechanized apparatus in the chai is the old Vaslin press.

Vaslin press in the background

Every other aspect of the wine making process is manual – and is extremely labor intensive.

Johan demonstrates how the barrels are decanted during the process of debourbage.

The fermentation process for the reds is a semi-carbonic one with alternating layers of whole clusters of grapes and CO2 placed in the large oak foudres pictured below.


Foudres in the background, Pieces in the foreground.

This giant foudre holds 5,000 Liters and is used for the Gevrey-Chambertin Villages, which represents the largest portion of the Domaine’s production.

Giant Foudre

Philippe says that during the fermentation process, the stems absorb about a half a degree of alcohol, which seems beneficial given  the conditions of the 2009 harvest.

Philippe vinifies 24 different Burgundy AOCs and produces about 140 total pièces each year.

The elevage of the 2009 reds

Philippe, Johan, and I tasted 15 different 2009 AOCs from barrel.  Everything was so tasty that it is hard to pick the highlights, but here goes:

Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru (a blend of Chabiots, Feusselottes, and Gruenchers), Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Bel Air, Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Lavaux Saint-Jacques, Charmes-Chambertin, and an incredible Ruchottes-Chambertin.

We also tasted a recently bottled 2009 Meursault, which was delicious.

Philippe and the 2009 Meursault

Quite frankly, the wines are incredible and ultimately worth the expense, even if some of that expense pays for the personality of the man behind the wine.

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