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Domaine Theulot Juillot

Lithe, Harmonious, Aspirational Mercurey

For a wine traveller, driving from the Côte d’Or to the Côte Chalonnaise can feel a little like stepping back in time. The trappings of wealth—so obvious further north—become less noticeable and without the tourists, the bars seem less chic and the restaurant menus less adventurous. For a century at least, the growers of Côte Chalonnaise have been caught in a causal nexus. Negative consumer perceptions have imposed prices that do not encourage growers to raise quality, resulting in a wave of mediocre wines that only reinforce those perceptions. Yet today, there are dozens of progressive growers who have found a way to “break the cycle”, to borrow a phrase from William Kelley. Thanks the likes of Vincent Dureuil and Aubert de Villaine (to name a couple), we are finally discovering what great vineyard sites in less-celebrated communes of the Chalonnaise can achieve when they are farmed and vinified with the same care and attention as those in the Côte d’Or. Now, you can add Nathalie Theulot to this list. 

Domaine Theulot Juillot (pronounced “tew-lo jwee-yo”) traces its roots back to the early 20th century, when Marguerite and Emile Juillot arrived in Mercurey, plucking out six parcels in the sweet spot of its ‘golden crescent’, the croissant-shaped band of hillsides directly north of the village. The pair clearly had a nose for quality, and all those vineyards would go on be classified as Premier Cru after the Mercurey AOC was created in 1936. Nathalie tells us, with some pride, that her grandparents were considered iconoclasts of their day. Not only did they recognise the benefit of improving their vineyards’ genetic material, but Domaine Emile Juillot was also one of the first in the post-war period to bottle and market the domaine wines directly.

“High-quality vine genetics and rootstocks; exigent viticulture; harvest by hand at full maturity; rigorous selection; intelligent winemaking; fastidiously chosen oak barrels; and gentle bottling—such are some of the many practices that deliver excellent wines when applied in Givry as surely as they do in Gevrey and in Montagny as surely as in Meursault.” William Kelley, The Wine Advocate

On Emile’s passing, Marguerite Juillot skilfully managed the vineyards, cellar and sales into her 80s. Winemaking skipped a generation before Nathalie Theulot inherited the family estate directly from her grandmother in 1987. With the support of her husband, Jean-Claude Theulot, an experienced winegrower of 40 years, she now manages 12 hectares of chiefly Pinot Noir vines, all within the commune of Mercurey.

Even if the modern standards of viticulture and winemaking have more widely failed to do justice to its soils, Mercurey has a terroir pedigree to match its status as the engine room of the Côte Chalonnaise. The landscape is a southerly continuation of the Côte d’Or, with the rock structure dominated by Jurassic limestone of the Bathonian and Oxfordian ages. Like her grandparents before her, Nathalie always had higher aspirations for a region which in the late 1980s was trading on a reputation as poor-man’s-Gevrey. No sooner had she taken the keys, Theulot immediately boosted the domaine’s replanting program to replace all her remaining ill-fitting clones with massale selections, even though vine genetics has never been a strong suit of the Côte Chalonnaise (especially since the 1960s when an ambitious planting program flooded Mercurey with high-yielding clones that failed to ripen their stems). 

Preferring to farm the soil, not the vines, Theulot then began to steer the domaine down the organic path, eschewing herbicides and insecticides. Although maximum yields for Mercurey are the same as village wines in the Côte d’Or (unlike the other appellations of the Côte Chalonnaise), she crops even lower to ensure the greatest intensity of flavour possible. Vineyards are ploughed, with grassing-over between rows and all harvesting is done manually. Countless other details and techniques have been refined over the years. Regarding the winemaking, all the grapes are destemmed, fermentation is wild, and the use of new oak is capped at one-quarter.  

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, elegance and precision that clearly conveys what makes Burgundy the promised land for Pinot Noir. Respect. And all this at a fraction of the cost you pay for wines of similar quality just half an hour to the north. 

Currently Available

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
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 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 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 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
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★ ★ “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. ” La Revue du Vin de France, Guide Vert 2023

Country

France

Primary Region

Côte Chalonnaise

People

Winemakers: Nathalie and Jean-Claude Theulot

Availability

National

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  • Domaine Theulot Juillot
    Domaine Theulot Juillot
    Today, we offer just our second allocation of wines from this impressive chalonnais gro...
    Today, we offer just our second allocation of wines from this impressive chalonnais grower. To recap, Nathalie Theulot inherited the family estate ...

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