Succulent… Now there’s a word that you might not associate too often with the wines of Gevrey Chambertin. In fact, most tastings involving a large collection of Gevreys would render the participant’s palate rather exhausted from the sheer levels of tannins and the structure these wines are famous for. But one taste of Jean-Michel’s 1er Crus – in particular recently experienced 2011s from the lieux dits of Petite Chapelle and Champonnets – left me so refreshed and with a desire to actually CONSUME a glass of each of those wines that “succulent” (as in ‘juicy, fleshy and thoroughly enjoyable’) just seemed like the most appropriate single-word descriptor I could muster.
Jean-Michel set out to conquer this land of Gevrey Chambertin after his first visit to these hallowed vineyards prior to establishing his estate in 1980. A passionate, driven and competitive aeronautics professional, Jean-Michel befriended a local grower by the name of Rene Gallard after purchasing an initial bare plot in Gevrey nearly 35 years ago. Driven by a desire to establish a new legacy, Jean-Michel dedicated himself to emulating those who came before him – the Rousseau, Dugat-Py and Denis Bachelet estates representing his inspiration.
From the beginning Jean-Michel obsessed with quality. Having relocated to Burgundy from Paris – retiring from aeronautics and bringing his family in tow – Jean-Michel would settle for nothing less than world class and world renowned wines. His passion and dedication would soon garner him not only the respect and admiration of the national press in France – where he was honored by professional French wine magazines with numerous accolades and stars – but likewise he would be named the president of the Gevrey-Chambertin winemakers syndicate.
Jean-Michel’s wines would quickly attract attention worldwide. Consistently among the most impressive of their genre, Jean-Michel’s 1er Crus as well as Grand Crus (to include his Mazis Chambertin and numerous Gevrey 1er Crus bottlings) would begin garnering top marks with the 2002 releases when Allen Meadows (of Burghound) confirmed, “Jean-Michel Guillon is indisputably a man on a mission to make world class wines.” From that singular moment, Jean Michel’s star would begin its epic rise (those 2002s dubbed “Outstanding” by Burghound) and within less than a decade Guillon joined the ranks of the village’s most esteemed.
Today, the estate of Jean-Michel Guillon is routinely mentioned as among the top less than a half dozen producers in the town of Gevrey Chambertin. And though this estate is only in its first generation (Jean-Michel’s son has officially joined him as of 2004, yet the reins have yet to pass), one thing is certain: this is an estate where the legacy will most certainly live on. With the foundation that has been established by the passionate and formidable Jean-Michel, the estate he has positioned for the future is undoubtedly worthy of the village known for producing the “King of Wines & the Wine of Kings”.