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Henri Boillot: The Importance
“He has arguably become the finest pure négoce specializing in white burgundy today; yes there are other very fine négociants but the huge majority of them are really domaines hidden inside a "maison" facade that buy in fruit or must to supplement their proprietary wines. And to have done it with the speed that Boillot has is nothing other than spectacular.” Allen Meadows’ judgement here is in fact representative of most critics’ attitude to Henri Boillot’s remarkable wines, and it sums up the attitude to Boillot shared by those in the know. In recent vintages the wines have also gathered superlative reviews from Neil Martin, Steven Tanzer and Antonio Galloni, the latter observing that “a number of the more modestly priced wines far exceed the quality of their respective appellations,” reflecting the perfectionist approach of their maker.
Henri Boillot: The Insight
The stars of the show are the Montrachet, Bâtard-Montrachet and Chevalier-Montrachet Grands Crus. Some of the plots are Henri’s own proprietary ones, while others are leased from growers, but perhaps more than any other négociant, Henri Boillot is proud to regard his leased vines just the same as his own and he spares no expense on their maintenance. The top sites here, particularly the vines based on the Puligny side of the appellation, and indeed the Puligny-Montrachet AC itself, have gone from strength to strength in Boillot’s hands, receiving unanimous approval from all the major critics in every vintage. Further down the Côte de Beaune, Boillot has had spectacular results making Meursault and Corton Grands Crus.
Like many great white Burgundy makers, Boillot also makes outstandingly good wines in the Côte-de-Beaune villages traditionally devoted to the Pinot Noir grape: Pommard and Volnay. These wines show distinctive red fruit and offer excellent expressions at the Village level, while the Volnay Premier Cru Les Caillerets and Pommard Premier Cru Les Rugiens stand head and shoulders above the rest, rivalling top producers such as the Marquis d’Angerville and Michel Lafarge.
As mentioned above, most critics are seriously enthusiastic about all of Boillot’s production, and Galloni is not alone in finding that “the entry-level wines in particular offer fabulous value.” Even the Bourgogne Blanc receives much the same treatment as the top Premier Crus, that is to say an extended barrel maturation on healthy lees (but no stirring), albeit in a lesser proportion of new oak. Typically Boillot uses 350 litre barrels for the overwhelming majority of his wines and about 50% percent of the wood is new for his Premier Crus.
Henri Boillot: The Background
On taking full control of the family estate, Domaine Jean Boillot, in 2005, winemaker Henri Boillot became renowned for the sheer quality of his wines in record time, using a multitude of excellent parcels, with vines often more than 60 years old. He renamed the estate Domaine Henri Boillot soon after taking it over to eliminate confusion with his brother’s estate, Domaine Jean-Marc Boillot.
Henri Boillot's son Guillaume is now overseeing the production of the reds. According to Allen Meadows, “the younger Boillot … is already displaying an unusually sure touch for someone so young.”
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