With its inherent richness and density, the 2015 vintage posed a challenge to the Burgundian vigneron: how to make wines of balance and elegance that harness the power of the vintage without succumbing to it. At Domaine Jacques Carillon, one senses the touch of a true master operating at the peak of his powers. In his sixth vintage as a solo operator, it is clear that Jacques is carrying on in uncanny resonance with the grand tradition of his father Louis, with whom we worked for nearly 30 years. Despite an increase in amplitude due to the warm, sunny growing season, the wines show the rigorous focus, chiseled minerality, and ethereal lift that have always characterized this unique domaine. Quantities are down slightly from 2014, due to the thick-skinned grapes that 2015 yielded (and their subsequent lack of juice). Furthermore, Jacques resisted the all-too-common urge to lean heavily into the pressing and extraction of such healthy grapes, realizing that an over-extraction of potassium would compromise the wines’ overall acid balance. Those perennial Carillon enthusiasts—the folks who prize mineral thrust over voluptuousness—will be delighted and amazed with the character of these 2015s, as they boast all of the vintage’s many attributes without succumbing to any of its potential pitfalls. Jacques’s 5.5 hectares yield precious few bottles, and we will have the pleasure of receiving our pittance around the 28th of August.
Jacques’ Puligny-Montrachet comes from eleven small parcels in seven different lieux-dits scattered throughout the appellation. A mere 15% new oak allows the gleaming limestone typical of Carillon to shine through, even in a somewhat riper vintage such as ’15. A subtle and attractive musk element on the nose gives way to a powerful impression of stones, and the palate is lean and quite long, showing youthful verve and a stern minerality that seems to request a few years of cellaring. This is extraordinarily fine and precise for a villages-level white Burgundy.
2015 is the first vintage we have had the pleasure to offer Jacques’s villages-level Chassagne-Montrachet, the vines having been planted in 2013. From the lieu-dit “Voillenot-Dessous,” located immediately south of the village itself, it offers—in classic Chassagne fashion—greater breadth and flesh than the Puligny mentioned above, with a slightly less kinetic and focused mineral element. Still, the wine shows impressive verve, with surprising depth and intensity from such young vines. Again, a modest proportion of new barrels keeps the delicate fruit-mineral interplay center-stage.
2015 Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru “Les Macherelles”
Carillon’s Macherelles comes from a half-hectare parcel in this premier cru sandwiched between the village of Chassagne itself (to the south) and “Les Chenevottes” (to the north). The relatively young vines—twelve years old as of the 2015 vintage—have shown remarkable development over the past few vintages, and this wine is a clear and decisive step up in intensity and complexity from the two preceding villages-level offerings. The palate is neither richer nor fatter than the Chassagne above, yet the sense of increased concentration and energy is palpable. Electric acidity and an ultra-focused finish beckon for a few years of aging.
2015 Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru “Champ Canet”
Located at the northern limit of Puligny on the border of Meursault, Jacques’ ever-elegant Champ Canet comes from a 0.55-hectare parcel planted by his father Louis in 1973. This ’15 sports a highly expressive nose of liquefied limestone and subtle white-flower musk, and the blatantly saline palate explodes with energy, culminating in a persistent, laser-focused finish. That Jacques was able to coax this level of finesse out of such a ripe vintage speaks to his utter command of his craft. Happily, the wine’s dense, thick fruit core completely absorbs its modest 20% new oak.
2015 Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru “Les Perrieres”
Carillon owns just over a hectare of vines in this enviably located cru just south of “Les Referts” (see below) on the slope, in the northern part of Puligny. As is typically the case with his Perrieres, this vintage shows a deeper, more profound limestone essence than the Champ Canet above. It is sleek, with less gras and richness, but almost more overpowering in its overall carriage. The fruit, while pleasantly ripe in keeping with the character of the 2015 vintage, takes a back seat to the driving minerality, and the pungent and saline finish coats the palate completely.
2015 Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru “Les Referts”
Jacques exploits a mere quarter-hectare of 40-year-old vines in this great northern-Puligny 1er cru. Where Perrieres is punchily mineral, Referts is broodingly intense, with a limestone core that murmurs rather than shouts. There is a hair’s breadth more concentration and richness to the fruit here, but the impression of freshness and salty acidity is still notable, with a beautiful note of acacia blossom rounding out the wine in an intriguing way. At this youthful stage, the 2015 is almost painfully intense, and those fortunate enough to lay their hands on a few bottles are strongly encouraged to cellar them for at least five years.
In 2015, Jacques produced a mere two barrels (one new) from this hallowed grand cru in which he owns barely a tenth of a hectare. Providing ample reassurance that Burgundy’s intricate classification system functions supremely well, this delivers almost overwhelming density—there is simply more material through which the tongue can wade, and more layers of flavor and texture to process. As befits such a mammoth, ample cellar time is demanded in order for the wine to reveal its charms and nuances. Carillon Bienvenues-Batard-Montrachet is among the most mythical and rare wines in our entire portfolio, and this vintage is sure to become a thing of legend. If you ever get to try this wine, consider yourself among the extremely fortunate few.