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Domaine Theulot Juillot

Mercurey Rising: Classy and Wallet-Friendly Red Burgundy
Domaine Theulot Juillot
Today, we offer just our second allocation of wines from this impressive chalonnais grower. To recap, Nathalie Theulot inherited the family estate directly from her grandmother in 1987 and, with the support of her husband, Jean-Claude Theulot, has piloted the domaine from strength to strength. All quality practices you would expect from a Bibendum grower are celebrated here, too: high-quality vine genetics and rootstocks; precise organic viticulture; hand harvesting; and low yields. Theulot is also a dab hand in the cellar where destemming, gentle extractions and moderate use of new oak showcase the graceful side of this little-understood appellation.

If you are new to this part of Burgundy, Mercurey has a terroir pedigree to match its status as red-wine ground zero of the Côte Chalonnaise. The landscape is a southerly continuation of the Côte d’Or, with some perfectly angled slopes and a rock structure dominated by Jurassic limestone of the Bathonian and Oxfordian ages. In Inside Burgundy, Jasper Morris MW notes that “the red wines of Mercurey can be the deepest, firmest and richest reds of the Côte Chalonnaise”. You can certainly feel that intensity in Theulot’s wines. Yet all her reds carry the vibrancy, charm and character that convey Burgundy: Pinot Noir promised land. And all this at a fraction of the cost of comparable wines grown just a half-hour north.

The domaine’s 2021s are a departure from its full-bodied, cellar-worthy 2020s. This year, the fruit has an engaging buoyancy that—alongside more tension and lithe, feathery tannins—makes the wines considerably more approachable. Alongside the red wines, the domaine also makes a lovely Pinot-dominant crémant, and 2021 sees the first release of a deliciously chalky estate Aligoté. It's worth noting that Theulot Juillot rarely submits its wines for review, so no scores appear here. As Nathalie explained: “What’s the point of trying to attract new fans when we are sometimes already unable to satisfy our regular clients.”

The Wines

Domaine Theulot Juillot Bourgogne Aligoté 2021

Domaine Theulot Juillot Bourgogne Aligoté 2021

The domaine’s Aligoté comes from a (relatively) newly purchased parcel of fruit vineyard located on the plateau, opposite the Mercurey cooperage. Hitherto, the wine had been blended into the domaine’s crémant offered above. In 2021, Nathalie and Jean-Claude were so impressed with the personality and energy of the wine (whose grapes escaped the frosts this year) that they decided to bottle it solo. Vinified on lees in old oak barrels, it opens all velvety and floral before a fleshy mid-palate offers tangy, quivering fruit scored by lemon and ripe stone fruits. A lovely close featuring citrus peel and wet chalk flavour completes the picture. Put it this way: the domaine is so happy with the release that it has become a regular label in the portfolio. Enough said? It will make a fine aperitif or pair with salmon, fresh goat's cheese or even a platter of sushi and sashimi. 

Domaine Theulot Juillot Bourgogne Aligoté 2021
Domaine Theulot Juillot Mercurey 1er Cru La Cailloute 2021

Domaine Theulot Juillot Mercurey 1er Cru La Cailloute 2021

This 1.73-hectare vineyard, originally acquired by Nathalie’s grandfather, is a Theulot Juillot monopole and lies above Les Croichots. The domaine makes red and white from this terroir, the latter from a band of grey marlstone abutting the forest at the top of the vineyard. The red is drawn from two parcels on thickish red clay over hard oolitic limestone. The first parcel, planted in 1979, brings finesse, while the second—planted only a year later—delivers the structure and colour.

The sum of these parts is this domaine’s most sophisticated red: a smoky, plummy red Burg with ripe flesh and billowing texture to go with the structure we always expect from a top Mercurey. Jasper Morris writes that this wine is “noted for its variations on a theme of cherry flavours”. In 2021, said cherries are ripe and delicately spiced, with a side order of succulent freshness and flavoursome length worthy of the domaine's top red. Little wonder Nathalie Theulot calls this cuvée mon chouchou, an affectionate French nickname for someone dear to you.

Domaine Theulot Juillot Mercurey 1er Cru La Cailloute 2021
Domaine Theulot Juillot Mercurey 1er Cru Les Champs Martins 2021

Domaine Theulot Juillot Mercurey 1er Cru Les Champs Martins 2021

Bordering Les Combins to the west, Les Champs Martins has historically been considered one of Mercurey’s finest vineyards. All the village's top growers are represented here, and Theulot Juillot exploits two parcels of mature vines where the slope faces due south. Jasper Morris notes that the “reddish soil has a plethora of small white stones, giving rounded wines of some elegance.” We can only speak from limited tasting experience, but, except the 1er Cru La Cailloute, this terroir has delivered the domaine’s most refined wine in 2021. Overall, it’s a balanced, succulent and finely spiced red Burgundy laced with small red fruits, latticed texture and a long, salty-spicy finish. Give it another year for the classy oak to integrate further, and it will provide fine drinking for up to a decade. 

Domaine Theulot Juillot Mercurey 1er Cru Les Champs Martins 2021
Domaine Theulot Juillot Mercurey 1er Cru Les Combins 2021

Domaine Theulot Juillot Mercurey 1er Cru Les Combins 2021

Les Combins is one of Mercurey’s sweet-spot Premiers Crus. Exposed due south, it rises from the village on a slight slope flanked by the two combes of Mercurey. The domaine’s mass-selection cuttings were planted between 1978 and 1988 and sit at 275 metres. The soils are Oxfordian beige marl, and yields are kept below 40 hl/ha. The winemaking is broadly similar to the Vieilles Vignes, with slightly longer on skins, including a four-day cold soak to leach out the prettiest fruit without extracting tannin. The aging, too, is somewhat longer—14 months instead of 12. Raised with 25% new oak, there is plenty of juicy flesh on the bones, yet this release is mouthwatering and tense with nicely sappy fruits melding with polished Mercury tannins and well-pitched freshness. With plenty in the tank, it’s already showing lots of promise. 

Domaine Theulot Juillot Mercurey 1er Cru Les Combins 2021
Domaine Theulot Juillot Mercurey 1er Cru Les Croichots 2021

Domaine Theulot Juillot Mercurey 1er Cru Les Croichots 2021

Les Croichots sits directly adjacent to Les Combins, but despite being mere metres apart, the former’s soils veer to a combination of meagre blue marl on the upper slopes and more complex, thickish, stony, red clay that starts mid-way down. Theulot Juillot farms four parcels in Les Croichots, covering 1.2 hectares. More aromatic than Les Combins at this stage, it’s a pulpy, fleshy, plummy Pinot packed with ripe, small red fruits, spice, and savoury depths. The intensity is impressive given the year, yet there is lovely balance and complexity topped off by a fine, lengthy close. An eminently affordable 1er Cru red Burgundy from a top Chalonnaise grower.

Domaine Theulot Juillot Mercurey 1er Cru Les Croichots 2021
Domaine Theulot Juillot Mercurey Vieilles Vignes Rouge 2021

Domaine Theulot Juillot Mercurey Vieilles Vignes Rouge 2021

This old-vine cuvée is drawn from three lieux-dits with an average age a shade over 50 years. Les Montelons sits at the top of the Mercurey slope at 300 metres on beige marl, bringing tightly packed fruit and freshness. Sheltered from the wind in the centre of the village, Le Clos Laurent brings earthiness and opulent dark fruit, while Les Vaux, in a deep valley to the north of the town at around 250 metres, provides both density and bite. The sum of the parts is Mercurey’s answer to Gevrey-Chambertin. Everything is destemmed in the winery, and most of the wine spends 12 months in barrel (around 20% new) with a small proportion remaining in tank for this vintage.

The attack here is more intense than the 2021 Millerandage Rouge. It is juicy and well-built with lots of summer berry and blueberry pie flavour, alongside liquorice nuance and hints of spice from the classy oak. It’s a more vibrant and balanced release than last year’s fruit bomb, yet there is plenty of old-vine depth and structure to warrant a good stretch in the cellar.

Domaine Theulot Juillot Mercurey Vieilles Vignes Rouge 2021
Nathalie Theulot Mercurey Millerandage Rouge 2021

Nathalie Theulot Mercurey Millerandage Rouge 2021

With such poor yields in 2021, Nathalie Theulot reached out to some grower friends to help make up some quantity. One such wine is this delicious Mercury cuvée drawn from a plot of millerandage-affected grapes (hen and chicken) from a south-facing vineyard on clay-limestone. To craft an open and supple red Burgundy that can be approached from the word go, the winemaking was geared towards delicacy and vibrancy: cold soaking, minimal extraction and just a lick of new oak. The result is a crowd-pleasingly perfumed, juicy, red-fruited Burgundy, with supple tannins and bright underlying acidity combining to great effect. 

Nathalie Theulot Mercurey Millerandage Rouge 2021
Nathalie Theulot Crémant de Bourgogne NV

Nathalie Theulot Crémant de Bourgogne NV

This is a delightful addition to our sparkling portfolio. The domaine made its first crémant in 2004, and to this day, it remains a 100% Pinot Noir Blanc de Noirs sourced from a parcel of red Bourgogne Côte Chalonnaise. It is labelled Nathalie Theulot and is one of a small number of negoce wines made at the domaine.

The style is squarely focused on drinkability and refreshment, and to this end, the base wine is fermented in inox tanks before going to bottle. Unlike her Mercurey whites, Nathalie Theulot vinifies the juice at low temperatures (14°C) to preserve as much delicate red fruit aromatics as possible. 

Bottled with minimal dosage – ranging between five and seven grams – it is bursting with aromas of crisp stone fruit, white flowers and warm brioche flavours. It is a lively, medium-bodied style with mouth-watering balance and a fleshy core. It closes with a lovely hint of crystalline fruit sweetness and chalky grip. If there is one gripe, it is too easy to drink! As the Burgundians like to say: better a good crémant than a bad Champagne!

Nathalie Theulot Crémant de Bourgogne NV

★ ★ “Nathalie and Jean-Claude Theulot took over the family estate in 1987. The patient replanting proved judicious, the wines gained in finesse and elegance. The ploughed vines, the absence of pesticides, the sorting, the whole harvest measured: everything is done to obtain pure, full and delicious juices. Their regularity made it possible to obtain the second star… We have a special admiration for reds. As for the prices, they are still reasonable.” La Revue du Vin de France, Guide Vert 2023

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