Domaine Mont Bessay
domaine mont bessay julienas "en bessay" 2021 750ml
Philippe Pascal didn't want to spend his retirement simply drinking great Burgundy–he wanted to make it. After decades as an executive at luxury giant LVMH, working as CEO at Moët Hennessy Group (the wine and spirits part of LVMH), then heading its watches division and serving as adviser to LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault, Pascal purchased Cellier aux Moines, a run-down ancient monastery with vineyards, in 2004. Eight years later, he left corporate life behind to focus on it full-time.
The property's location in Givry, a less-celebrated appellation in Burgundy's Côte Chalonnaise region, smelled like an opportunity to Pascal. "The terroir was on a par with its neighbors, it was just not as well known."
He has the same hunch about Juliénas, one of the ten designated crus in Beaujolais—and one of the more underrated. Two years ago, he and Aux Moines winemaker Guillaume Marko acquired Mont Bessay, a neglected estate of vineyards perched atop a hill with stunning views.
"I'm convinced of Juliénas' potential—it is the most northern and most 'Burgundian' of the Beaujolais crus–essentially an extension of south Burgundy," said Pascal. From the panoramic view on Mont Bessay's hilltop, one can see the vineyards of Burgundy's Mâconnais region.
In 2015 he hired Marko, whose resume includes stints at Burgundy's Arnoux-Lachaux and Domaine de la Romanée Conti. The winemaker introduced whole cluster fermentation and a single-plot winemaking approach.
As for the label, which features a rabbit in boxing gloves, that's also inspired by the terroir. "Every time we walked the property, we saw hares standing on their hind legs kicking each other–this is what they do in mating season." In spite of the disruption of reclaiming the hillside vineyards, trellising and replanting, the hares remain, said Pascal. "They are still here, watching and checking on us."
WE91, Wine Enthusiast
"This organically farmed Juliénas has pleasing texture and fruit and tannin integration. Ruby in color, this wine imparts aromas of red raspberry, strawberry and red cherry. Concentrated fruit on the midpalate gives way to additional notes of black plum. Drink now, but has the ability to age two to five years."