Benoit and Jean-Baptiste Bachelet, both in their early twenties, recently took over their family domaine from their father Jean-Claude. The estate, based in Gamay, had remained relatively anonymous due to Jean-Claude’s reluctance to receive critics. The brothers have no such apprehensions and are proud to show the wines that they are producing from their outstanding holdings. Some immediate changes were made after the transition. The sulfur levels were decreased and the duration the wines spent in barrel was reduced from 2 years to 18 months. New oak is used very judiciously by the brothers, and, as a result, the wines now released by the domaine are pure and terroir driven.
In addition to some of the best vineyards in Saint-Aubin (Les Champlots, Charmois, Les Murgers des Dents de Cheins and En Remilly), the estate owns some fantastic parcels in the neighboring communes. A basic village Puligny is made from several parcels with an average vine age of 40 years. Near the hamlet of Blagny, the domaine owns vines in the premier cru Sous le Puits. A bright, mineral wine is made from this rocky terrain. The basic Chassagne bottling is made entirely from 50 year old vines in the lieu-dit Les Encegnieres, which is shared by both Chassagne and Puligny. Though it is a large vineyard, only a tiny piece of Les Encegnieres extends into Chassagne, just below the famous Batard-Montrachet. This prime source allows the Bachelet's to make an exceptional village bottling of uncommon richness. A second top parcel in Chassagne is located just south of Le Montrachet. The domaine’s vines in the premier cru Les Blanchot Dessus (0.12ha.) were planted in 1927 and they produce the domaine's most concentrated wine. Both Les Encegnieres and Les Blanchot Dessus were sold as Batard-Montrachet prior to the Appellation Controlee in 1939. The crown jewel of the estate is a tiny plot in the grand cru Bienvenue-Batard-Montrachet (0.09 ha.). Less powerful then a typical Batard, the Bachelets’ Bienvenue is very floral and brilliantly defined on the palate. This wine, made from vines planted in 1972, is a grand cru in every way.
Unlike most estates in the Saint-Aubin area, the red wines at Domaine Jean-Claude Bachelet are just as exciting as the whites. The red cuvees are matured in a separate cellar that is located at the center of Gamay. This deep, stone cavern goes back to Roman times and is extremely cold, which seems to contribute to the bright, fresh character of the wines. From the Bourgogne to the Chassagne premier cru, La Boudriotte, each wine has the charm and complexity that typifies the best reds from the Cote de Beaune.
The hamlet of Gamay sits just east of Saint-Aubin. A collection of tightly packed houses, the village is engulfed by Saint-Aubin’s vineyards. The Bachelet domaine, tucked away at the back of Gamay, is not easy to find. Only recently have journalists begun to taste at the domaine, but their reports have been promising. A combination of great sites, old vines and newly infused talent is lifting this family estate to new heights.