n Patrick Javillier's cellar in Meursault one plus one equals three. His old school teacher would probably disagree, but this is the philosophy Javillier has been using for years when making his wines. By blending wine from different climats with complimenting characteristics he creates a whole that is greater than the sums of its parts.
– For example my Meursault Clousots is a marriage between Meursault Les Clous and Meursault Les Crotots. The blend of these two climats is better than the separate wines.
Patrick Javillier has been making wine since 1974. He got his Diplôme National d'Œnologie in Dijon in 1973. He then continued with his military service for a year. The day after he was done with his military service he was back in Meursault vinifying the 1974 all on his own. His father had retired and left the three hectares of vines to his son.
Since then Domaine Patrick Javillier has grown to cover ten hectares. The Meursault Clousots is the latest addition to his wine portfolio, with 2006 being the first vintage for this cuvée. For many years another cuvee of his, the Meursault Tête de Murger, has received a lot of praise. As with the Clousots the Tête de Murger is a Meursault appellation coummunale, stemming from two different climats – in this case Les Casse-Têtes west of the village and Au Murger de Monthélie north of the village bordering on Monthélie.
– If you can find two climats of Meursault village appellation that compliment each other you can obtain premier cru quality, Patrick Javillier explains. But then again if you are not careful when choosing the climats you might end up with a wine that is less good than either of the two.
Patrick Javillier produces a small amount of grand cru wine – Corton-Charlemagne – and an even smaller amount of premier cru. His Meursault Charmes only produces 400 bottles a year.
– Yesterday we had a tasting with Meursault Charmes, Meursault Tête de Murger and Meursault Clousots with some English people. The majority preferred the Tête de Murger because it was more complex than the Charmes. The Charmes is not bad, but it doesn't have the complexity of the Tête de Murger.
The philosophy of one plus one equals three is present already on regional level, for his two Bourgogne Blancs.
– I have two styles, he explains. All my vineyards are in Meursault. The Cuvée des Forgets comes from the Volnay side of Meursault and the style is a bit like a Meursault. The Cuvée Oligocène comes from the Puligny-Montrachet side of the village. It's from just below Meursault Charmes, but the style is quite different. It has more of a Puligny style.
– This Bourgogne Blanc can age very well, he says about the Cuvée Oligocène. You can drink it young, but you can also keep it for six to eight years without problems. This past harvest we opened a 1990 and it really surprised us. It was very fresh, very good!
In the cellar he treats his Bourgogne Blancs the same way he treats his Meursaults. He leaves them on the lees in order to keep the character of the climats.
– I don't make chardonnay, he says. I make Bourgogne Blanc from Meursault.
– Some years ago a good friend of mine, Philippe Charlopin from Gevrey Chambertin, tried to convince the INAO to establish a new appellation – Bourgogne Côte d'Or. But the big problem was that the winegrowers of the Saône-et-Loire would not approve. There is a Bourgogne Côte Chalonnaise appellation, so a Bourgogne Côte d'Or would have been similar. We worked with this for ten years, but in the end it was turned down.
Usually when Patrick Javillier is mentioned it is his skills with white wines. One could easily get the impression that white wine is all he makes. But with landholdings in Savigny-les-Beaune, Pernand-Vergelesses, Aloxe-Corton and Pommard 20 percent of the production is red.
– The quality of my red is higher now than it was before, he says. Ten years ago it was definitely lower, but since two or three years the quality level of the reds is only just below the whites.
– I think that my red wine is very old style. It's not a lot of colour. It's very elegant, but not a lot of body. My daughter joined me a year ago and she's doing a great job with the reds.
Parick Javillier's father did not have enough vines to make a living out of winemaking. Instead he acted as a broker, buying wine in Burgundy for a British client. He would buy the wine and have it shipped in barrels to London where his client had it bottled. This continued up until the mid-1950's when the wine was bottled before being shipped to London. When Patrick Javillier took over after his father he also continued the broker business. He continued with this until 1990 when he had enough vineyards himself to make a living out of it.
Looking back at over three decades of winemaking Patrick Javillier points out that there has been a distinct improvement in quality when you look at Burgundy as a whole. But there is a difference, depending on if you look at the red wines or the white.
– For the reds the change is very big, he says. For white wine the quality level is higher, but perhaps some winegrowers make their wines too much "primeur". They get a wine that is very good when young, with primary aromas. But there are some problems with oxidation; after three or four years the wines don't develop as they should, because they try to hard to make a wine that is good to drink in the first year.
– For me it's a pity because we can't make the wines we did 30 years ago. People drink the wines younger today. The wines I make are not supposed to be drunk the first year. You can begin to drink my wines one to one and a half year after bottling. In general my wines are at their best when they are between five and eight years. Some vintages are possible to keep for ten to 15 years.
© 2008 Ola Bergman