On the Trail

The Tradition of Paul Pernot

On the Trail

Tradition is a force. Whether you like to be a rebel and defy it, or worship it, there’s no doubt about its power. In a place like Burgundy, tradition is everywhere; especially when it comes to winemaking. But the tradition here is humble, familial, and based on the wisdom, observation, and practice of hundreds of generations of men who knew their land. Love it or hate it, it’s what makes the wines of Burgundy what they are.

In the case of Domaine Paul Pernot, the vigneron tradition runs back about 200 years. Although Paul Pernot founded the domaine in 1959, the family had been growing and making wine long before that—mostly for the Drouhin family. Now the third generation of Pauls is learning the classic, careful farming and winemaking that makes this domaine such a success. Based in Puligny-Montrachet, the Pernots touch some of the best Chardonnay vines on earth. But the care used on their high end wines extends all the way down through to their Bourgogne Blanc (still largely Puligny). As a general rule, the Pernots employ a very transparent winemaking style, designed to highlight the purity of fruit, and its natural expression. I’m not talking here about wild yeast, clay amphora and cloudy juice in the bottle. No, this is Burgundy afterall. The Pernots use well-made French oak barrels, a small percentage of which are new, a little batonnage, and light filtration and fining, bottling just prior to the next year’s harvest—all the methods that have come to come to be traditional in Burgundy, but all in moderation, with a good sense of what the fruit requires. 

If you ask any K&L staff member for a reasonable bottle of white Burgundy, we will almost unanimously put the 2014 Domaine Paul Pernot Bourgogne Blanc into your hand. If you want that elegance, refinement and purity of Puligny fruit without the village price tag, this is a must. Clean, melon and citrus fruit with snappy young acidity and a touch of softening oak round out this lovely little wine. It’s stylistically very pure and expressive of Puligny fruit. However, the Pernot style really shows beautifully in the 2014 Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru “Clos de la Folatières”. Folatières fruit is notably rich, hefty, and sometimes fat in character. To work with this, the Pernots use a little extra new oak, and make sure to harvest early enough to maintain the acidic verve necessary to elevate this wine and keep it light on its feet. The result is a perfectly balanced, very multi-dimensional wine with a rich, yet lifted feel, great texture, and a long future. The wisdom of the Pernot winemaking and farming is truly eloquent here. In the case of Puligny, maybe it’s best to stick to a family tradition—especially when the results are so good. 

-Heather Vander Wall