Philippe Pacalet

About this producer

Within the context of modern winemaking exists a tension between scientific application and the aesthetics of creation. The point at which they intersect is where we might find Philippe Pacalet, a student of science in youth, more specifically yeast biology, and a man seeking to reflect in his wines the different sites with which he works.

The result, in the words of writer Jamie Goode, is Burgundies that are, “… quite distinctive, with lovely purity and elegance, and thrilling aromatics … they seduce with freshness and elegance.” Jancis Robinson MW adds to this when she describes Pacalet’s wines as “exciting” and “very fine and luscious”.

The focus for Pacalet is the site and although he does not own any vineyards, he is able to access multiple plots throughout the region by renting sites that meet his strict criteria, one of which is vines possessing an average age of 45 years. From two parcels of 30- and 60-year-old vines, Pacalet crafted the 2014 Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru – a wine awarded 17 points by Jancis Robinson MW, showing “Good tension. Transparent and floral with very supple tannins. Polished confit fruit.”

Pacalet’s scientific studies arefurther juxtaposed withthe natural wine movement. He gained first hand experience of this concept alongside his uncle Marcel Lapierre, the renowned Beaujolais producer and ardent member of the natural wine movement. Eschewing chemical application and embracing sustainable vineyard practises, Pacalet continues this approach in his Beaune winery, where natural yeasts and minimal sulfur use are employed. Varying percentages of whole bunches are used during fermentation, in part due to the filtration created by the stems, and old oak is the choice for maturation. The wines are bottled by hand with a small amount of sulfur added before release.

Inherent in all of Pacalet’s wines is a sense of precision, clarity and purity – it is his signature and has won him many fans, not least among them, Neal Martin from Wine Advocate. Of the Grand Cru 2013 Charmes Chambertin,Martin writes that it “ … has a pretty, detailed bouquet with bright raspberry and wild strawberry. This is very focused, brimming over with energy. The palate is medium-bodied with supple tannins, a lovely saline undertow and a poised, very elegant finish…” Pacalet’s talent is not limited to grand cru vineyards alone and his ability to identify sites of potential and to bring forth their best expression is reflected by Martin’s review of the 2012 Meursault Village, when he writes, “The nose is very attractive with lovely vivacious lime and fresh mint aromas. The palate feels full and caressing in the mouth with a long rounded leesy finish. Gorgeous.”

Perhaps however, it is this review from David Schildknecht that captures the sheer delight to be found in these wines. Writing in 2007 of the 2005 Gevrey-Chambertin Premier Cru Lavaux Saint-Jacques, Schildknecht describes aromas of “rose petal, liquorice, black cherry, plum and smoked meat. Fantastically concentrated and savoury – with saliva- and tear-inducing smoke, salt, pan dripping, meat juice and soy – this clings with grand cru complexity and length. Deep meatiness, superbly ripe fruit … chocolate richness, persistent inner-mouth florality and ineffable minerality are all part of the show.”