Way back in the late 1980s we were introduced to a young, newly qualified, winemaker from Franche Comté called Xavier Guillaume. We have been dealing with him ever since, picking and choosing the vintages to buy from his ever improving, and increasing, range of wines.
|Xavier Guillaume in his cellar.
The Guillaume family business has its origins in vines rather than wine, though both are important today. Pépinières Guillaume
have been grafting and growing vines for over 100 years and are actually one of the largest cultivators of vines in the world producing between 10 and 15 million plants annually.
They now have operations in Chile
as well as the south of France
though their spiritual home remains the commune of Charcenne in the Haute-Saône Department.
From this base in eastern France
their main customers were initially the vineyards of Burgundy
which meant that their main vine cultivation was concentrated in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir with a proportion of Pinot Meunier as well.
Nowadays they grow most varieties and export their vines worldwide to vineyard owners who are replanting or expanding.
They count amongst their customers some of the top properties in many of the world’s most famous regions including Domaine de la Romanee-Conti – reckoned to be the top estate in Burgundy and whose wines are highly prized and priced (a quick online search for their wines will reveal the sort of prices they fetch – you will be shocked)!
The natural result of all this vine cultivation is, of course, an annual crop of grapes which used simply to be left to the birds.
Xavier realised what a waste it was just to allow the local wildlife to feast on the fruits of vines destined for greatness elsewhere and began making wine from his own vines in the 1980s.
The bulk of his production is still Chardonnay
and Pinot Noir
(which make splendid, and more economical, alternatives to red and white Burgundy
) though he also makes a selection of other wines as well.
We were particularly taken with his Old Vine Chardonnay
and Old Vine Pinot Noir
as well as his “Cuvee G” Gewurztraminer
(clearly they have customers in Alsace now as well…) and the Flute Enchantée Brut
– a Champagne blend sparkler which, compared to many Champagnes, is a bargain not to be missed.
|Xavier amongst his vines.
The bulk of our shipments from Xavier will doubtless continue to be his Chardonnay
and Pinot Noir
since these offer superb options to customers who love both varieties of Burgundy
but not the prices one seems to have to pay these days to find decent examples.
On our most recent order we also included a few cases each of Old Vine Chardonnay
, Old Vine Pinot Noir
, "Cuvee G" Gewurztraminer
and Flute Enchantée Brut
Quantities of these are necessarily limited so if you’re interested in these grab some while you can!