Few villages in the Cote d’Or are as famous as Puligny-Montrachet, home to some of the world’s most acclaimed vineyards. Surprisingly, only a small number of the wines bearing the name of the appellation are actually made by vignerons located in the village. For centuries, producers throughout Burgundy have sought the vineyards and grapes from the area, enticing the locals to sell to the highest bidder. Despite this temptation, several families kept their land and established domaines. The names Sauzet, Carillon and Leflaive have become synonymous with Puiligny, but one local clan has remained out of the spotlight. The Chavy family has had roots in Puligny for almost 200 years. In 1976, after years of selling grapes to negociants, they began to bottle wine under their own label. Domaine Gerard Chavy et Fils soon established itself as one of the finest domaines in the village. However, in 2003, after a family dispute, the estate was dissolved. The brothers Jean-Louis and Alain Chavy, who had jointly run the domaine, decided to split and create their own domaines.
Alain’s 7 hectare estate has the distinction of possessing the deepest cellar (5.5 meters) in Puligny. The high water table of the village makes it difficult to dig a proper cellar and as a result, most of Puligny’s domaines have above ground caves that rely on air conditioning. The barrels resting in Chavy’s beautiful, arched cavern contain wine from some of the finest premier cru vineyards found in the appellation. In addition to land in the prestigious Puligny premier cru Les Folatieres, Le Champs Gain and Les Pucelles, the domaine owns a precious parcel in Le Clavoillon. Les Pucelles and Le Clavoillon sit adjoined on the slope, but Chavy-Martin is one of only two cellars in Burgundy where you can taste them side by side. Domaine Laflaive owns the vast majority of the 5.59 hectare Le Clavoillon, but the Chavy brothers each claim a small portion, preventing it from being a monopole. Alain farms 0.49 hectares of 50 year old vines in Le Clavoillon and from it he produces a wine of great depth and minerality. The estate’s bottling from Les Pucelles, which is directly south of Le Clavoillon, is a wine of similar character, but with more refinement.
Alain Chavy does not own land in any of the illustrious Grand Crus that stare down on his domaine, but he is able to express the essence of Puligny through some of its finest premier crus. His winemaking is hands off, and a low percentage of new oak allows the terroir to shine through in these pure, elegant wines. The Gerard Chavy estate may be gone, but a new chapter has begun for one of Puligny’s oldest families.