Bonjour d’un joyau intemporel qui est caché en pleine vue,
Last year, I introduced the wines of Meursault’s native son Alain Javillier to a US audience for the first time, an amazing discovery that had managed to defy the detection of Burgundy lovers the world over in spite of the fact that he has two of the most famous neighbors in all of Burgundy: Coche-Dury and Roulot…..Alain’s throwback style, in every sense social/environmental/philosophical, is like some kind of time-warp/time capsule example of Burgundy that could have come from an era some 75 years ago. The response from you guys once you got bottles in your hands has been nothing but joy and amazement at the purity, substance, and value that his wines offer, the authenticity ringing through clear as a bell. After our tasting together of his 2021s this past Fall, I knew that our collective joy and amazement would only continue, as the same tell tale house hallmarks of purity, finesse, and substance are here in spades, albeit in a strongly contrasting style to the concentrated 2020 reds. The 2021 whites are very very good, although he lost a significant portion of the production to frost, and so only produced one of his single vineyard Meursaults, blending the tiny bits of the others into the “basic” Meursault villages. The 2021 reds are, to my taste, absolutely gorgeous, pale, red fruited delicate beauties that fit within the stereotype that Alain has heard about his red wine making style, that he makes “red wines for girls”……For anyone who adores the pale red fruited style of Burgundy, your heart will swoon swoon swoon over these! Get what you can justify and enjoy the soul soothing beauty that they offer……..
Much to my surprise (yet seemingly perfectly appropriate), Alain has never had a picture of himself published in any publication, nor on the internet. When I asked him last year to send me a picture using his I-Phone, he told me that he doesn’t know how to…..So this year, I wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to show you guys what he looks like. I continue to be amazed at his vision and deep sense of values that are genuinely special and rare; he has managed to stay true to his personal ethical compass in spite of the modern world around him. He is a special human being, that much is sure……In each of our encounters and phone conversations, we could literally talk for hours, as his mind is like an endless web of threads that once you pull on one, others come with it, ideas flowing endlessly together. I am proud to call him a friend, and take some solace in the face of Burgundy’s crazy price escalation that his honorable paysan values are so unshakably rooted. This is something that we all will celebrate when opening bottles of Jean Javillier…….
What follows is a soup to nuts offering of his 2021 collection, with quantities that he was most generous in offering to me/us in light of the small 2021 harvest. Unsurprisingly, he has kept pricing stable and fair, and thus so shall I, even though the global demand for these rare birds is through the roof and could support more speculation driven prices. Both he and I prefer it that way, a simple pleasure shared, from a humble farmer in a town named Meursault. I will do my best, as always, to spread things around, with favor falling to people supporting the breadth of the range. And so…..!!!!
ORIGINAL OFFERING PROSE FOR THE 2020 COLLECTION:
Today’s introduction is an oh-so-special one, a rarely if ever seen cultural time capsule of sorts that has managed to avoid the spotlight for so long it is as though it existed in a parallel universe. Thanks to the friendship between winegrower Thomas Bouley and the ever curious wine critic William Kelley, they befriended a Meursault based grower who has quietly gone about his business untethered to the vagaries of fashion, modern ambition, and any sense whatsoever of “keeping up with the Joneses”, as we say in English. In his case, “the Joneses” (his neighbors) are Jean-François Coche and Jean-Marc Roulot, not exactly unknown players in the Burgundy scene……When I speak of an authentic sense of the Burgundian Spirit, that of a paysan humility and deep reverence for the unique patrimony and culture of the region, this gentleman and his wines exemplify it with an unspoiled purity that is as inspiring as it is improbable. Just as William noted in his intro remarks to the estate, : “Indeed, so unspoiled is this domaine, I hesitated to write about it.” Yet William did write about it, and I followed suite, with a wonderful friendship and mutual recognition of likeness-of-spirit quickly presenting itself. Having now visited with him, and spent many hours on the telephone talking about any and everything under the sun, it gives me great pleasure and honor to present for the first time to an American audience the remarkable work of the oh-so-one-of-a-kind Alain Javillier of Meursault.
In spite of being a native son of Meursault, for virtually all of his life, Alain has felt like an outsider. This is not because he chose to isolate himself nor because he is confrontational in spirit. Quite the contrary. He is a jovial chatterbox of a man who heartily enjoys the gift of gab and the simple pleasure shared of convivial life à table. It was moreso the world around that told him that he does not belong. Whereas today’s image of a village like Meursault is one of Burgundian royalty, this is a very new development in history’s eyes. When Alain was growing up, his family was very poor, as was so much of the region. He shared stories of how his father Jean traded a barrel of wine for a pig to eat, or how he never had a bicycle as a child because they simply couldn’t afford one. To give you an idea of the economics of the time, the family’s small parcel of Meursault Poruzots 1er cru was purchased around 1960 for the equivalent of 120 euros, with bottled wines selling for $.20 cents a decade later. Alain tells me that this constant uphill struggle to merely survive as a grape grower defined his father’s lifetime, and that his father never had any money to speak of. This is the reason that he chose to name one of the Meursault cuvées after his father, Jean, because in life he didn’t have hardly a penny to his name, and so now, thanks to his father’s hard work and sacrifice, Alain wants him to finally have some money literally in his name…….Such conditions firmly installed a spirit of “waste not, want not” and “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” for Alain. As the esteem of the village began to rise and more money arrived to some of the families there, a certain social hierarchy began to emerge, with Alain being regularly reminded that he was from the “lower class”. He recalls being teased for not having nice clothes to wear, and how classmates mocked and refused to ride in his first car, a very well used “beater” of a vehicle. To this day, Alain has only very old cars that he enjoys taking care of, just as he does for other pieces of very well worn farming machinery. Whereas being rejected by his peers could have found him seeking to change himself in order to be liked, he did not do so, rather taking pride and roots in the values imparted by his father, and the respect for the métier de vigneron (the profession of being a winegrower). Just like his father, Alain refused to ever embrace the “advancements” of industrial agriculture, keeping it pure à l’ancienne. His vineyards have never seen a drop of chemical fertilizer nor penetrating plant treatments. Like so many of the cultural practices found at this address, there was no pendulum swing from the old-school to the modern industrial and then back again; things just never changed from the old school in the first place. This is echoed in the vines themselves, with the overwhelming majority of the estate comprised of wonderful old vine massale selections; Alain did plant some clonal varieties in the 80s/90s, but he far prefers the massale selections (and his wines made with clones are…..really really good!). The winemaking style similarly has remained à l’ancienne, with both whites and reds decidedly old school in the best sense of textural/dry extract allure in whites and a certain delicacy/finesse in red. “Some people tell me I make red wine for girls,” William quoted Alain…..
My visit and tasting with Alain this past November was a standout highlight of my trip, both for the quality of the wines, and the quality of our humanistic conversations. Saying that the man can talk is a massive understatement….! If I hadn’t made a point to make sure that we were keeping relatively close to being “on schedule”, I could have been there all night long, as he and I both are fans of long tangential thought spirals…..a dangerous duo, he and I! ;0 As to the wines, the 2020s are plain outstanding, at once quite concentrated and energetic, with zero “makeup” or artifice; they are the kind of wines that those who favor an “old school” purist aesthetic will adore. There is very little critical feeback about his wines, or critical input whatsoever; in fact, to give you an idea of just how “under the radar” Alain and his wines are: there isn’t a single picture of him found anywhere on the internet. Not one……I asked him to send me a picture, and he told me that he doesn’t have a phone with that capability, and that he will ask a relative at Easter time to take one of him…..Thanks to William Kelley’s input, however, you have some accompanying reviews to sink your teeth into. I would say that in substance and value, these are outrageously good wines that I am keeping fair in their pricing; I could certainly charge more, as the wines are impossibly rare and special, but that’s not how I do……I have included the details of the quantities available, and will do my best to spread it around, with favor falling to balanced/realistic orders that include a broader than narrower selection of the full range. And so…………
“Domaine Jean Javillier & Fils is the sort of estate that this wine critic dreams of discovering. Hiding in plain site equidistant between the premises of Coche-Dury and Roulot, this small domaine—producing a mere 20,000 bottles per year—does everything the old fashioned way. Farming vineyards that have never seen chemicals and which have been certified organic since 1971, Alain Javillier favors massal selections: “We tried clones in the past, but they are not as good; I’m only going to let you taste wines made from massal selections.” Reds and whites alike are harvested in small crates, with whites pressed in an old Vaslin mechanical press. The musts are chilled to 15 degrees Celsius, and Alain tastes the lees when barreling down. Twelve months maturation in barrel and four in tank ensue, followed by bottling by hand, by gravity. Reds, by contrast, ferment without temperature control, and only free-run juice is used. The result is chewy, structured whites with plenty of texture and dry extract and sumptuous, supple and exquisitely elegant reds. “Some people tell me I make red wine for girls,” Javillier remarks. The inspiration here is sound: the white and red Burgundies of the 1940s. How much longer can such methods endure? “Now everyone works faster and faster, we have more and more Chardonnay, less and less Meursault,” Javillier poignantly observes. Indeed, so unspoiled is this domaine, I hesitated to write about it. But any readers nostalgic for the wines of yesteryear, before the stylistic excesses of the 1990s and the subsequent reaction against them, will find them at this address.” – William Kelley
LE MENU :
2021 Bourgogne blanc Magny – This is as good of a house intro as one could ask for, and everyday value hound extraordinaire…….
“Notes of pear, citrus zest, blanched almonds and struck match preface the 2020 Bourgogne Chardonnay Magny, a medium-bodied, taut and lively wine with good depth at the core, tangy acids and chalky structuring extract. This will age with grace.” 88+ William Kelley for the 2020, NOT THE 2021 OFFERED HERE
2021 Meursault villages – To my taste, this is a knockout value play, with a quintessential Meursault character of seamlessly silky texture that oozes elegance and class. Again, for the money, this is an impossible value….a little * awarded here.
2021 Meursault villages Cuvée Jean – Named after his father Jean, so that even after his passing, he has something to his name…..This is a step up in material/dry extract/depth, and (like everything here) a plain silly value….
“The 2020 Meursault Cuvée Jean is excellent, unwinding in the glass with aromas of pear, freshly baked bread, citrus oil, peach and pastry cream. Medium to full-bodied, layered and concentrated, with racy acids and chalky structure, it’s a serious, classically styled Meursault that’s built to age.” 91+ William Kelley for the 2020, NOT THE 2021 OFFERED HERE
2021 Meursault villages Tillets – This is the only single parcel Meursault wine that Alain was able to make due to the pitiful frost affected yields. It continues the consistent theme of terrific substance/value, without peer for the appellation in question. I needn’t pump it up any further…..This is typically themost taut/high toned/mineral wine of the crus.
“Revealing aromas of pear, freshly baked bread, citrus zest and toasted nuts, the 2020 Meursault Tillets is medium to full-bodied, satiny and incisive, with a racy spine of acidity and a long, saline finish. This is the nerviest, most mineral wine in the range.” 91 William Kelley for the 2020, NOT THE 2021 OFFERED HERE.
Rouges: Pale, pretty, pure, red fruited delights in 2021…..absolutely gorgeous!
2021 Bourgogne rouge – Made from clonal selections, this is another everyday value hound delight, in its dark red/light black fruits, excellent concentration, and grippy fine tannic structure. Alain is particularly biased towards his massale selections, but this shows just how good his clonal wines are…..value hounds, heads up…
2021 Volnay villages – For the money, a ridiculously good value. The paler, pretty floral intense aspect of the vintage along with his house style elegance continues to make this the single best value proposition in Volnay wine that i’ve ever been able to offer…..get it while the gettin’ is good…..
2021 Volnay 1er cru Santenots – For ALL of his 1er crus, they are bursting with old vine substance, in a painfully pretty, pale, delicate fashion; people who prize that quality in red Burgundy will absolutely adore all of these. Any and all are beyond worthy, the only problem will be so little to go around….I will do my best…..
“Javillier‘s tiny cuvée of 2020 Volnay 1er Cru Santenots is the richer, most dramatic wine in the range, bursting with aromas of raspberries, sweet spices, orange rind and loamy soil. Medium to full-bodied, layered and powerful, it’s lively and penetrating.” 91-93+ William Kelley
“From a parcel situated just below Domaine Leroy’s, the 2019 Volnay 1er Cru Santenots exhibits aromas of plums, cassis, peonies and spices. Medium to full-bodied, layered and velvety, it’s deep and fleshy—but, given that only one barrel was produced, it will be almost impossible to find.” 93 William Kelley for the 2019, NOT THE 2021 OFFERED HERE
2021 Volnay 1er cru Caillerets – Get what you can….I will do my best to spread it around.
“Also in tank awaiting bottling, Javillier‘s 2020 Volnay 1er Cru Caillerets delivers aromas of wild berries, spices, smoked duck, orange rind, dark chocolate and rose petals. Medium to full-bodied, rich and velvety, it’s fleshy and perfumed, with lively acids and powdery structuring tannins.” 92-94 William Kelley for the 2020, NOT THE 2021 OFFERED HERE
“Produced from only the free-run juice of old vines, the Javillier brothers’ 2019 Volnay 1er Cru Caillerets is showing beautifully, wafting from the glass with aromas of plums and raspberries, complemented by subtle top notes of peonies, orange rind and cinnamon. Medium to full-bodied, supple and velvety, with melting tannins, succulent acids and an enveloping core of fruit, it’s long and penetrating. This is one of the bigger, riper wines in the range this year, reflecting the warm vintage and early-ripening site, but it still exemplifies the precision and elegance that’s the domaine’s calling card in Pinot Noir.” 93 William Kelley for the 2019, NOT THE 2021 OFFERED HERE.
2021 Volnay 1er cru Clos des Chênes – Get what you can, I will do my best to spread it around.
“Exhibiting notes of sweet berries, cherries, warm spices, orange rind and rose petals, the 2020 Volnay 1er Cru Clos des Chênes is medium to full-bodied, velvety and vibrant, with fine concentration and powdery tannins. It was in tank awaiting bottling when I tasted it.” 92-94 William Kelley FOR THE 2020, NOT THE 2021 OFFERED HERE
“From vines planted in 1937, Javillier‘s 2019 Volnay 1er Cru Clos des Chênes is superb, mingling notions of sweet red berries and plums with hints of orange rind, petals and spices. Medium to full-bodied, layered and velvety, it’s supple and concentrated, with melting tannins and a long, resonant finish. Readers interested in history will be intrigued to learn that, in 1945, a few rows of this parcel were damaged when a Sherman tank positioned itself here to fire on Wehrmacht forces near Beaune.” 93+ William Kelley for the 2019, NOT THE 2021 OFFERED HERE
2021 Pommard 1er cru – From two sites: les Argillieres and les Combes. This is seriously packed with substance, in a darker fruited vein than the Volnay wines, but still quite pretty. Yum yum…..
2021 Pommard 1er cru Rugiens
“The most reserved wine in the range is the 2020 Pommard 1er Cru Rugiens, a medium to full-bodied, layered and concentrated cuvée evocative of dark berries, baking chocolate, licorice, warm spices and loamy soil. Deep and multidimensional, it’s very promising.” 92-94+ William Kelley for the 2020, NOT THE 2021 OFFERED HERE
“The domaine’s finest wine is the magical 2019 Pommard 1er Cru Rugiens, a cuvée produced from vines planted in 1934 and never farmed with chemicals. Unwinding in the glass with aromas of raspberries, cassis, warm spices, blood orange and loamy soil, it’s medium to full-bodied, velvety and layered, with superb concentration, melting tannins and lively acids. Long and sapid, it’s seamless and complete.” 94 William Kelley for the 2019, NOT THE 2021 OFFERED HERE.
It is my continued honor and delight to present Alain’s wines to a US audience for the first time. My initial inclination that there will be a serious fan club that develops has already proven true, as the buzz for his wines continues to grow in pitch…..He is as authentic as they come, and such unspoiled sincerity/integrity deserves every bit of recognition that he has coming…..The 2021s, particularly the red wines, are absolutely gorgeous, pale, delicate beauties that I adore……get it while the gettin’ is good!
As always, with any questions or interests: email@example.com
CHEERS TO ALAIN AND HIS FATHER JEAN, AND THEIR TRADITION OF BURGUNDIAN AUTHENTICITY AND HUMILITY!!! TO THE PALE, PRETTY, AND PURE STYLE OF 2021!!