Domaine Guillemot-Michel

Domaine Guillemot-Michel

This tiny biodynamic six-hectare estate, next to the village of Clessé in southern Burgundy, has been owned and run by Pierrette and Marc Guillemot since 1985. They took over from Pierrette's parents, who had been selling their grapes to a local co-op, but this husband-and-wife team decided they wanted to make the wine themselves.

They were early adopters of biodynamics and used to run courses with renowned soil consultant Yves Herody. Lalou Bize-Leroy, Dominique Lafon and Julien Brocard all attended courses here.

Now the vineyards are managed by Marc (whose beard is so fantastic that he is known as 'le grand barbu') and he also helps in the winery, although it is Pierrette who oversees the winemaking. Both are trained oenologists. Since 2013 they have also been assisted by their daughter Sophie after she completed an agriculture and oenology degree at Montpellier, and has done some winemaking in Chile and Australia. She is interested in making distilled alcohols and has done a stage at Hennessy. She is making some marc and fine from chardonnay pomace at the domaine.

They are all obsessive about quality - from the vines, which have been farmed sustainably and without herbicides and pesticides for many years, to the modern equipment used in the winery - and this clearly pays off in the finished wine.

The small vineyard is planted on the clay and limestone slopes between Mâcon and Tournus, and benefits from the Quintaine commune's excellent microclimate, with high temperatures from its sunny exposure being moderated by the nearby river Saône. The vines, which have an average age of 50 years and produce low yields of 40-50hl/ha, are planted to a density of 7-8,000 vines/ha, through the middle of which run herb beds that house insects needed to fight off common vine pests. The grapes are all harvested by hand.

No oak is used in the winery; the grapes are just pressed gently, in whole bunches, using the pneumatic press, and then fermented in epoxy-lined cement tanks using only natural yeasts and with no chaptalisation before ageing on their lees until being bottled in the spring.

Just one wine is made - it was known as Bourgogne Les Raverettes, but after some local politics and changes to classification requirements, it has been allowed to be called Viré-Clessé since 2010. The grapes are harvested ripe, about 13.5%, and the resulting wine is rich and powerful but not top heavy. It sometimes is slightly honeyed in character.

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