While Jacques Bavard’s family has been growing grapes in Burgundy for more than fifty years, the life of the boutique wine producer wasn’t always his thing. A restaurateur in Paris for twenty-five years, one who presented his customers with interesting selections from historic and unique domaines, he met so many interesting people in the wine business that it ultimately inspired him to go back home and do what was always in his blood. Using his sources in Puligny, where he’s now been making wine since 2003, Jacques returned to the domaine of his grandparents and released his first expressions with the fantastic 2005 vintage. We met him at the estate this past March on our way through Montrachet country to sit down and taste the new 2015 editions. As a staff, we’ve been fans of Bavard’s wines (and the reasonable prices!) for as long as we’ve been importing them, but I think I can speak for everyone at K&L when I say the dynamism of the 2014 whites brought that love affair to an entirely new level. Not only was 2014 a classic vintage for Bourgogne whites, showcasing vibrant acidity alongside racy minerality, it was a particularly incredible year for Bavard’s domaine. The wines were absolutely electric. The 2015 expressions continue that legacy of immense quality, but I think tasting with him that evening in Puligny, he knew it would be hard to outdo that fantastic harvest.
Part of what makes Bavard’s wines so endearing on the whole is that they are all made from small parcels, fermented and vinified separately to maintain each vineyard’s individual character. The whites in particular are fermented in 350 liter vats, with only 10% new oak used. The wines have richness, but the toast is kept to an absolute minimum resulting in a carefully articulated harmony of weight and freshness. “I want tension and precision in the wines,” Jacques said to us as we swirled and tasted. Both characteristics are wholly apparent in every sip of each white, from his charming Bourgogne Blanc to the savory St. Romain, and from his majestic Monthelie to his elegant and pure-fruited Chassagne-Montrachet. There is a tension between fruit and acidity carving its way like a laser of pure precision through the core of these 2014 whites, a different cut in each expression, but a consistence of character. As someone who loves white Burgundy in particular and tends to drink it in large quantities, I can’t stress enough how fantastic the 2014s are drinking right now—especially knowing what’s coming down the pipe with 2015. There will be plenty of opportunities to buy Bavard’s white wines at K&L in the future, just as there has always been in the past, but I’ve never tasted a vintage as good as 2014 from Bavard. 2015 is strong, but more supple, 2016 is still a wreckage site waiting to have its frost and hail damage sorted out.
2014, however, is as good of a white Burgundy vintage as I’ve ever tasted, especially if you value that tingle of acidity on the back of your palate, buoying the entire experience of what makes these wines so fantastic. We’ve just received another direct shipment of 2014 whites from Bavard and I highly, highly advise anyone looking for value and supreme quality to consider redirecting funds normally planned for their mortgage or child’s education over to this latest container of wines. You might regret doing so later on down the line, but never of course while drinking any of these wines.