By Florian Rossignol, 9 November 2021
Pierre Girardin is Burgundy's most promising new star. If you are familiar with his last name, yes, you guessed it right, Pierre is the son of Vincent Girardin. In 2017, Pierre-Vincent made his first vintage, at 21 years old. His talent was soon one Burgundy lovers’ radar, with Steen Öhmann, aka Winehog, commenting, “Expressing terroir is not easy, but producers like Roulot really excel in bringing out the individual character of the village terroirs – showing how different they are – and what they can offer in terms of enjoyment and pairing with food. To find a 21-year-old vigneron with the same ambitions – and the talent to match – is rare indeed.”
Below is our senior consultant Anthony Hanson MW’s impression on his 2019s:
Domaine Pierre Girardin has risen like a phoenix from the ashes of his father Vincent’s estate, which had a long history, going back as Burgundy vine-growers for more than 10 generations. Vincent decided to sell most of his vineyards in 2011, but he retained some of the best, in Meursault, Pommard and Volnay, with Puligny-Montrachet Les Folatières, in case his then-young son Pierre might wish to pick up the embers. This has indeed happened, and Pierre made his first wines aged 21. Now he has built a superb new winery in Meursault, where the first vintage was 2018. Pierre is bringing passionate energies to bear on the produce of the family’s vines, as well as other sites, where he either sources grapes, or manages the cultivation.
Building a new winery from scratch meant key decisions for equipment. Pierre’s policy is to vinify his whites in oak barrels containing 456 litres – double the size of a classic Burgundy barrel. This means smaller surfaces for exchange between wine and wood, with less penetration of air, to ensure maximum aromatic freshness. It also brings about less evaporation, and has allowed him to reduce sulphur dioxide use. 95% of his barrels are in this size, and he does not believe in lees-rousing. The whites spend a year in barrel, then are assembled in tank. His Meursault ‘Les Narvaux’ grapes came from a white-marl, limestone-rich soil giving complex wines with fruit density and freshness. Meursault 1er Cru ‘Charmes’ came from mid-slope and the heart of the 1er Cru, which bring roundness and flesh. Bâtard-Montrachet Grand Cru grapes originated in an 85 year old vineyard on the Chassagne-Montrachet side, with Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru being an assemblage of grapes from both Pernand-Vergelesses and Ladoix. For the 2019 vintage he has used one third new barrels for village and 1er Cru whites, and 50% for the grands crus.
For the reds, Pierre bought many small stainless steel vats with floating tops, and believes in careful temperature control during fermentation, at lowest possible levels, with little or no intervention. 100% whole bunches were retained in 2019 for Corton-Bressandes Grand Cru. After 12 months in barrel, typically using 35-50% new barrels for 1st Growths, racking and assembling took place, with Côte de Beaune reds being bottled in December, then the Côte de Nuits in February. Just 3 barrels were made of the Clos-Vougeot Grand Cru, from a parcel lying in mid-Clos, between the two Châteaux. Echézeaux Grand Cru gave a better yield (5 barrels), the grapes coming from Les Treux, the vines lying close to Grands-Echézeaux.
Pierre-Vincent is very concerned about oxidation, and one of the practices that he does to protect against oxidation is pressing his grapes very hard. This style of pressing the grapes usually takes about three hours. From this pressing you also get dry extract from the grapes which gives more texture to the wine.
Other practices Pierre-Vincent does to help protect his wine against oxidation include keeping a very cold cellar and purchasing corks from Sardinia that he has found are three times the density of the corks found in Spain and Portugal. He explained these corks provide much greater protection from allowing oxygen into the wine. He also coats each cap in wax to help provide an added layer of protection. For ageing his whites Pierre uses specially designed 456-litre barrels because he feels that keeps freshness in the wines and limits the oak influence. Pierre uses minimal sulphur in the winemaking process.
This young man brings the techniques he learned from his father and his own vision to his wines. We are thrilled to be working with him now in Hong Kong.