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Sylvain Pataille, Marsannay Clos du Roy 2017
Pinot Noir 100%
Arguably the best terroir of the appellation, the east-facing Clos du Roy is one of the contenders for the 1er Cru classification to come. The wine is fulsome with a generous bouquet of red cherries mixed with strawberry and raspberry. The fresh, vibrant palate is medium bodied with supple tannins, a fine bead of acidity and one of the most precise finishes among Pataille’s reds this year. Classy stuff!
Sylvain carries out new plantings of all the vineyards by massal selection with clippings from growers like Jean-Marc Roulot, and he uses a good number of low yielding rootstocks (strictly no SO4) to add complexity, planting at very high densities of 12-14,000 vines per hectare. Yields average a low 35hh, he uses an old vertical press, presses very slowly over 6-8 hours for both whites and reds, he varies the percentage of stalks used for the reds and carries out elevages of up to two years, in a mix of cuves, futs, 350ltr and 600ltr barrels. The percentage of new oak rarely goes above a modest 20%. Only the bottom 15% of vats are filtered for the whites, and sulphur use is minimal with total levels of around 20-25mg/l total for reds. He decides on the bottling dates by taste, whenever the wines are ready.
So, he started off in 1999 with just 1ha of vines, which leaped to 9ha in 2002 including Clos du Roy and La Charme Aux Pretres. Sylvain acquired a cave in nearby Chenove in 2004, although still keeping an old and jam-packed vaulted cellar in the centre of Marsannay for barrel ageing his wines. As the years have passed, he has gathered an enviable number of some of the finest terroirs of Marsannay, where a layer of limestone is never far from the surface. They have been tended biodynamically since 2015.