Sommelier Selection - Philippe Pacalet

Philippe Pacalet

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.

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