The Javilliers have been involved in the wine business for generations as courtiers. When Patrick started out in 1974 this was the main source of his income, alongside which he worked three hectares of vineyards. In 1990 he was able to give up being a courtier as the domaine was by then large enough and well enough established. There are some red vineyards though his wife’s family, but the core of the domaine is white.
Patrick Javillier is now one of Meursault's best growers. An electrical engineer by training, he later studied oenology in Dijon before taking over his father's small Meursault estate. He gradually expanded the vineyard holdings to over 9 hectares and has been estate bottling his wines since 1990.
Patrick is one of the most reflective of white wine makers, the walls of his cellars and the sides of his barrels being covered in chalk where he has been developing one or another of his theories. He is absolutely persuaded that long élévage on the lees is essential for the future development of the wine in bottle, so he uses a Vaslin press for his whites because it keeps more of the solids than a pneumatic press. Most of the wines are taken out of barrel after a year, then matured further in tank on their fine lees. The Corton Charlemagne spends a second winter in wood. It would be difficult to find another winemaker with quite such a perfectionist attitude as Javillier, a man who approaches winemaking with the precision of a research scientist, yet is always ready to question his own success. The results are startling, more so given that he has only one tiny Premier Cru holding. Not only does he vinify parcel by parcel but also cask by cask before making the final assemblages.
The Bourgogne Blancs are vinified as crus and have all the character of real Meursaults. The Clos from the upper slopes are steely and firm, while the beautifully balanced Tillets, Casse-têtes and Clos du Cromins have a delightful touch of honey. Javillier's Narvaux wines derive part of their noble breeding from Perrières, their next-door neighbours.
Interestingly, the top wines such as the Corton-Charlemagne are fermented and matured entirely in one year old wood, with new barrels being used (25-30%) for the Meursault and Bourgogne vineyards on the lower slopes with more clay and less active limestone in the soil. Patrick favours Damy as a cooper with a selection of wood from the Allier, Vosges and Nevers forests to provide a balance of styles.
Patrick Javillier also makes Berrys' Meursault from purchased grapes under the name of Guyot-Javillier.
Jasper Morris MW, Burgundy Wine Director and author of the award-winning Inside Burgundy comprehensive handbook.