Les Parcellaires de Saulx, Burgundy

Parcellaires_Vosne_Romanee label

Country & RegionFrance, Burgundy
OwnersDenise Dupré and Mark Nunnelly with Jean-Luc Vitoux

L es Parcellaires de Saulx is a small, venerable maison de vins firm occupying a handsome manor house at the upper end of Meursault. Its cellar stretches on for some 5,000 square feet, and in its depths the house has been élevaging wine since 1908 (the oldest written record).

The firm was purchased in 2017 by an American couple, Denise Dupré and Mark Nunnelly, with their French partner Jean-Luc Vitoux. Dupré has practical and academic experience in hospitality, being the founder and director of Champagne Hospitality and having taught at Cornell, Boston University and Harvard. Nunnelly is a former managing partner at Bain Capital. The two are leading philanthropists in Boston, as well as major Francophiles.

Les Parcellaires_cellar

They first teamed up with Vitoux, a lawyer specializing in viticultural transactions, in 2012 to buy and resurrect the Champagne house Leclerc Briant (an early pioneer of biodynamics that had fallen on hard times). In 2014 they purchased the Royal Champagne Hotel, dramatically reopening it in 2018. In 2017 they bought Domaine de Belleville in Rully, along with the maison de vins business in Meursault, and ended the year by securing a long-term occupancy agreement with Pommard’s Château de la Commaraine and its monopole clos vineyard (noted by Lavalle in his Burgundian classification of 1855).

Each is a distinct operation. Belleville came with 54 acres of vines, mostly in the Côte Chalonnaise but also with holdings in the Côte de Nuits, all of which were quickly transitioned into biodynamic farming. The 12-century Chateau de la Commaraine is being renovated into a 5-star hotel, while its cellar is being revamped and its vines are transitioning to organic farming. The business in Meursault has been christened Les Parcellaires, with a strict focus on bottling single vineyard wines from single producers, rather than the usual négociant practice of blending for volume. The de Saulx appendage is a reference to the family that owned the Château de la Commaraine in the 15th century, done to make the new connection among the properties and to underscore a sense of tradition.

The sign above the door may have changed, but not the person in charge of the wines at Les Parcellaires—Isabelle Laurand, the cellarmaster since the turn of the century, has been retained. She’s a native Burgundian who back in the day went to school at Beaune’s well known Lycée Viticole (where Jean-Pierre Charlot from Domaine Voillot taught), and she has deep-seated relationships among a who’s who list of growers along the Côte.

Les Parcellaires_Isabelle Laurand

Laurand limits her selection to one wine from one grower per climat, working with organic or biodynamic growers whenever possible. Perforce, the quantities are small, sometimes only a barrel or two, and these are predominately older barrels—the rotation of new barrels is carefully managed and minimized to let a given site’s fruit and soil notes shine. Every wine in the stable—simple Bourgogne included—is raised in barrel.

For vintage 2020, she bought 40 different lots from around 15 different growers. For whites, it’s must; for reds, it’s finished wine, purchased right after fermentation, and she does the aging. Ferments for both colors are spontaneous without yeast additions, and all the reds are de-stemmed (it’s her preference).

Currently, as indicated, she’s working with 40 wines ranging from Bourgogne to Grand Cru, with a swath of Premier Crus. Roughly 25,000 bottles are produced, with the ultimate goal of reaching 60,000 bottles, or a modest 5,000 cases. The aim is to turn Les Parcellaires into one of Burgundy’s leading micro-négoces.

The Wines

Saint Aubin "En Ebaupin"
ChardonnayA high, south-facing lieu-dit tucked deep in the northernmost crook of Saint-Aubin’s valley. A long, full-bodied Chardonnay. 1,500 bottles. Domaine tech sheet here.
Bourgogne Pinot NoirPinot NoirOne could easily be forgiven for thinking that this startlingly delicious Bourgogne was a declassified wine from some hallowed terroir in the Côte de Beaune (we did). Raised for 8-10 months in barrel, rather than the 12-15 months that is routine for the rest of the Parcellaires range. 5,000 bottles. Domaine tech sheet here.
Chambolle Musigny

Pinot NoirClay-limestone soils on stony calcareous alluvium. A wine that exemplifies the haunting perfume of Chambolle, with seductive fruit and excellent grip. 1,200 bottles. Domaine tech sheet here.

Vosne Romanée
Pinot NoirClassic, east-facing vineyard of limestone mixed with clay-rich marl, with varying topsoil in depths from 20 centimeters to one meter. Raised in barrel for 12-15 months. 900 bottles. Domaine tech sheet here.

Gevrey-Chambertin "Les Evocelles"
Pinot NoirThe name of this climat comes from the Old French Vaucelle, a small valley. It is located upslope, in the easternmost reaches of Gevrey, and its soils are almost entirely stony alluvium. A wine of tension and spicy complexity. Raised in barrel for 12-15 months. 1,200 bottles. Domaine tech sheet here.
Gevrey Chambertin Premier Cru "Corbeaux"
Pinot NoirMid-slope, just south of the village center, this 1er Cru abuts the Grand Cru vineyards of Mazis-Chambertin but lies in a slightly more windswept combe (small valley) than its Grand Cru neighbor. A quintessential Gevrey. Raised in barrel for 12-15 months. 600 bottles. Domaine tech sheet here.
Chambolle Musigny Premier Cru "Les Feusselottes"Pinot NoirRoughly equidistant between Bonnes-Mares to the north and Musigny to the south, the soils here are red, silty, and shallow, with a high proportion of limestone. A wine of fine tannins and terrific mineral cut. Raised in barrel for 12-15 months. 600 bottles. Domaine tech sheet here.
Nuits Saint Georges Premier Cru "Les Murgers"Pinot NoirThis mid-slope, southeast-facing premier cru is east of the village. Deep, rocky soil composed mainly of Comblanchien limestone. A richly elegant style of NSG. Raised in barrel for 12-15 months. 1,200 bottles. Domaine tech sheet here.
Chapelle Chambertin Grand CruPinot NoirLocated mid-slope and facing east, south of the village center, this Grand Cru terroir consists of limestone scree covered with a thin layer of clay topsoil. Just below Clos de Bèze. Raised in barrel for 12-15 months. 600 bottles. Domaine tech sheet here.