It is worthwhile making a detour to visit the pretty village of Pernand Vergelesses, with its steep and winding streets. Here the hallmark of the wines is finesse, as much for the reds as for the whites. Indeed Pernand Vergelesses is the only Burgundian commune which has the right to produce both red and white wine at every level, from regional appellation to Grand Cru. It is here that the Rollin family have been making wine for four generations, steadily building up the domaine to its current 12ha which cover five communes and produce 14 different appellations.
This is an estate created through the efforts of working in the vines. It was Maurice’s father, Raymond, who first purchased vineyards in his local village of Pernand Vergelesses where, like his father before him, he was engaged as a vineyard worker. In 1955 Maurice Rollin began bottling a little wine. In the 1970s he was joined by son Rémi, the fourth generation of Rollin to expand the estate. Together they planted vines, eventually growing to cover 10 hectares. Today Rémi’s son Simon has joined the team, and they have expanded holdings to 12 hectares.
The vineyard work is meticulous and, although not certified organic, the methodology in practice is applied in a manner designed to maximize the expression of terroir by eliminating (or reducing to an absolute minimum) any treatments in the vineyards. All grapes are harvested manually and fermentations proceed with indigenous yeasts. The white wines are pressed very gently and undergo long fermentations in barrel and are aged on the fine lees for twelve to fifteen months. The two different parcels of Corton Charlemagne are fermented separately and blended prior to bottling. The more southerly exposure of the le Charlemagne vines gives the wine depth and power, whilst the more westerly exposure of the en Charlemagne vines brings minerality and acidity to the blend. The result: an outstandingly complex wine to rival the best whites of Burgundy.
The reds are hand-sorted in both the vineyard and at the cellar before being pressed. The maceration is long and the elevage is in small barrel with the malolactic fermentation occurring therein. In almost every instance, neither the white wines nor the red wines are fined or filtered.
Pernand Vergelesses is a little difficult to pronounce and may be why it’s wines are little exposed in export markets. This has helped keep prices reasonable and I expect the Burgundians don’t mind a bit as they are happy to keep jewels like these to drink for themselves. Rollin’s wines are drunk with gusto by the many winemakers who frequent Beaune’s ‘Bar du Square’ after a day’s work. This is in every way, a first class Burgundy estate.