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By Florian Rossignol, February 2022
In Xavier Horiot you see a calm yet determined man – goal-oriented with a sense of precision. It’s a personality that no doubt served him well as a software engineer, and before that as a fighter pilot in the French Air Force. It took him many years to win control of his family domaine – something many people told him he would not achieve. But he did - after several years in French family court.
In our view, the wine world is better off because of his victory. The first vintage of Domaine Launay-Horiot was 2014s1 and it has not taken long to caught the attention from the press and critics, it was picked by Tim Atkin MW as his top 10 producers to watch.2
Our team first visited this domaine in June 2018 and we were was struck by the elegance of his Pommard since then. For us, to taste the 2017s in his cellar is to experience bright, clear wines of specific terroir character. We had chances to taste his wines from time to time for some years now and were reminded of how delicious and unique they are in their approachability. While a lot of us are used to the rustic-tannin character of Pommard that need at least ten years to resolve and come around, Xavier makes a completely different style with concentrated fruit and minerality but also delicate floral notes of violets and prominent bright fruit aromas.
The domaine includes rare ownership of vines in Côte de Nuits grands crus vineyards Latricières-Chambertin and Chambertin itself, as it owns 0.16 ha of Chambertin located next to the vines of Lalou Bize-Leroy, so he makes a small production from them. His Latricières-Chambertin is fresh and airy, spicy and really long, elegant and intense on the palate. It’s a quintessential Latricières. The Chambertin has a wonderful expressive nose and very complex fruit characters, with good energy and length. These two grand crus are as wonderful as you might expect and will help gain him a following.
After all this is a Pommard domaine, with some of the very best plots in the village – including a fine collection of 1ers Crus. We feel these are amongst the very best Pommard wines being made today. The ‘Perrières’ has a fine blackcurrant and red fruits expression, attractive freshness and fine tannins. ‘Chaponnières’ has fine fruit, a touch of savouriness, good depth and chalky tannins. ‘Rugiens Bas’ is vibrant with natural concentration and finesse, it needs a little more time for the oak to integrate.
The grapes are harvested by hand in small boxes of 11 kg to arrive intact on the sorting tables. If the sorting tables are not ready, the small crates of bunches are kept in a cool room next door – everything is done to preserve quality here. Grapes are de-stemmed and carefully sorted on tables before being lifted for forklift (not pumped) to stainless steel fermentation vats. Fermentation takes place under temperature control, with pigeages and pump-overs once or twice per day. Wines are aged 12 to 16 months in barrels, 15% to 75% new, depending on the wine.
The Burgundy loving wine community, smart as it is, we are sure will discover the superb quality emanating from Domaine Launay-Horiot and eagerly seek its wines.