Philippe claims not to be a dogmatist (“Taliban”) but by farming biodynamically, insisting on 100% whole bunch fermentations, only natural yeasts, no additional sulphite and with a marked preference for old oak his wines are unusually distinctive. His philosophy is all about preserving the integrity of the grapes and avoiding oxidation but as naturally as possible and he owns some great parcels of vines across the Cote d’Or (concentrating on Nuits reds).
Thanks to an itinerary change we were
able to spend well over two hours with Philippe in his
cellar and tasted everything – including several cuvées
from different aged barrels – first from new oak and then
from others ten year old. Putting senior Premier Crus
and Grand Crus in decade old oak (constantly filled) is a classic example of how, like
everything about his wines, Philippe marches to the beat of his own drum.
Philippe echoed the conversations we’d had with several other winemakers about climate
change adding that “the vines are adapting quicker than we are”. He suggests the hot
vintages from 2015 to 2020 (excepting the cooler 2017) resemble the post war years 1945-
49 that were also replete with extraordinary ‘vins gards’. “We have more tannins, more
acids, more sugars, more aromatics, more everything”. He doesn’t worry about sorting
the grapes as the dry harvests ensure the grapes always arrive in perfect physiological
health. He also appreciates the hot summers when out working the vines. “We used to
have cold, wet summers like in England, being in the vineyards was shit, I prefer it now”.
I won’t go into detail about the wines, that’s all to come – but lots to love across the
appellations and cru levels. I do however think the Fixin and even more so Fixin 1er Cru
are well worth a look for anyone wanting to begin their Pacalet journey and was really
impressed by the whites. We also tried a Beaujolais ‘vin de primeur’ (Nouveau - 2020)
he makes exclusively for Japanese clients and a delicious cremant from Aligote and
Pinot Noir ‘Bulles’ – which thankfully is not. Great alternative festive bubbles from one of
Burgundy’s true mavericks.