Domaine Billard Père et Fils

La Rochepot
Hautes Cotes de Beaune
Saint Romain
Saint Aubin 1er Cru
Auxey Duresses
Jérôme Billard

Domaine Billard has approximately 26 hectares of vineyards in different appellations throughout the Cotes de Beaune. Their largest holdings are in the Hautes Cotes de Beaune with other small plots located in Saint Aubin 1er Cru, Saint Romain, Auxey Duresses, Beaune, Beaune 1er Cru, Chassagne-Montrachet, Santenay, and Pommard.

When the domaine passed from father to son, Jérôme Billard brought a new philosophy with him. The farming practices changed to eliminate chemicals, rebalance the soils and follow the principles of organic farming. Jerome hired a specialist to work a few of their vineyards with a horse, and in 2019, after seeing the results, the Billards purchased their own horse, which enabled them to expand the number of vineyards they work without a tractor.

In contrast to his father, who sold his wine to the local cooperative, Jérôme developed a market for his wines, and estate bottles his entire production. Yields are kept low by severe pruning and the use of cover crops. The vines are harvested by hand and Jérôme likes to harvest on the “late side,” to give good concentration to his wines. Fermentations utilize indigenous yeasts and a modest amount of SO2 is added before bottling; 25mg/L for whites and 15mg/L for reds.

There are about 20 villages included in the Hautes Côtes de Beaune appellation. These old villages, many of which are barely inhabited, are secluded in the hills and their vineyards are interspersed with woodlands and farms that grow a variety of crops. The Billard family home and winery are located in one of these, La Rochepot, a small village noted for its elaborate 13th century chateau which is set into a rocky hillside.

Hautes Côtes de Beaune Blanc

The Billard’s HCB Blanc is 100% Chardonnay. The 10-hectare vineyard has the place name, “lieu dit,” of La Justice and is located in the village of La Rochepot. The soil is very chalky, and the land has good drainage and exposure. The grapes are fermented in barrel and then matured for 6 months “sur lie” before bottling. The resulting wine is rich, well-structured, and elegant.

Hautes Côtes de Beaune Rouge

The Billard HCB Rouge comes from a plot of 6 hectares with alluvial clay soil in the village of Saint Aubin. Before harvest, a rigorous bunch selection is done in the vineyard to insure that only ripe and healthy grapes are brought into the winery. The Pinot Noir is fermented in vat with the extraction obtained by foot pressing. The goal is to preserve the delicate nature of the grapes and obtain a purity of expression. The wine is then matured in barrel for 6 to 9 months.


The Billard’s have 2.5 hectares of Aligoté planted in the village of La Rochepot. The vineyards are planted with “massale” selections, and the average age of the vines is 45 years, with the oldest parcel dating to 1947. The grapes are fermented in stainless steel and then matured in tank for 6 months “sur lie” before bottling. The resulting wine is both high-toned and sensual. Saint Aubin is a small commune that produces both white and red wines, and is located just behind the Montrachet vineyards. The soils are very chalky, and the slopes can be quite steep. The whites have recently received a great deal of attention and the reds, of which there are only 57 hectares planted, are slowly making their way into the pantheon of classic Côtes de Beaune.

Saint Aubin 1er Cru “Vignes Moingeon" Blanc

The Billards have .75 hectares of Chardonnay planted in the 1er Cru vineyard “Vignes Moingeon” producing about 300 cases a year. The “Vignes Moingeon” vineyard has a very chalky soil known as “marnes blanches” with good elevation and south-eastern exposure. The Saint Aubin Blanc is barrel fermented in wood from the Tronçais forest in the Allier. One third of the barrels are new and the wine remains in barrel “sur lie” for a year before bottling.

Saint Aubin 1er Cru “Les Castets" Rouge

The Billards have .32 hectares of Pinot Noir planted in the 1er Cru vineyard “Les Castets,” producing about 100 cases per year. The “Les Castets” vineyard is on a gentle incline and has a blend of “marnes blanches” and “marno-calcaires” soils that favor the Pinot Noir grape. The Saint Aubin Rouge is fermented in vat with daily pigeages. It is matured for a year in Vosges and Troncais barrels, a third of which is new. Saint Romain is a small appellation that is deserving of more attention. The vineyards are nestled between 300 and 400 meters in elevation along a valley that runs east to west behind Meursault and Monthelie.

Saint Romain Blanc “La Combe Bazin"

The Billards own 2.25 hectares in Saint Romain with 1.25 h of Chardonnay planted in the lieu dit “La Combe Bazin.” The white wine is barrel fermented with 25% new wood. It is matured “sur lie” for a year and is minimally fined and filtered before bottling. The “La Combe Bazin” terroir produces a wine with lively acidity which offers a perfect balance to the sensual mouth feel of this classic Burgundy.

Saint Romain Rouge “La Perrière"

The Saint Romain Rouge is produced from 1 hectare on calcareous clay soil. The grapes are fermented in vat with indigenous yeasts and the pressing is done partially by foot. The wine is matured in barrels, 20% new, for 9 months.

Santenay “Les Hâtes”

The Billards farm 1 hectare in the Santenay “lieu dit” Les Hâtes. Les Hâtes is one of the larger “climats” in Santenay and is situated between the 1er Cru vineyards, Passetemps and Beaurepaire. The vines in the Billard’s parcel are 45 years old. The wine is fermented in cement tanks at low temperatures with a daily punching down of the cap. The wine is then matured in oak barrels for 9/10 months. Typically, 20% of the barrels are new.

Beaune 1er Cru “Les Chouacheux”

Beaune is the third largest commune in the Côte D’Or after Gevrey Chambertin and Meursault. Most of the vineyards are classified as Premier Cru with smaller parcels of “village” wine on the southern and northern fringes. The Billards farm .33h in the “Chouacheux” vineyard, a 1er Cru on the Pommard side, close to “Clos des Mouches.” It has the deep clay soil characteristic of its sector. The wine is vinified in cement vats and the maceration lasts about 15 days. During this time, the “pigeage” is done by foot. The wine is matured for a year in Tronçais oak barrels, 25% new.


The Pommard is produced by combining two very small parcels of vineyards; “Les Tavannes” and “Le Bas des Saussilles,” each parcel approximately a quarter hectare in size. As with his other wines, Jerome harvests on the late side and all grapes are harvested manually. Fermentation in cement vats with a maceration of up to two weeks is followed by 15 months of maturing in oak barrels, one third new. The wine combines the typical structure of Pommard with a fleshy texture and fine tannins.

Chassagne-Montrachet “Les Morichots”

The Billards farm .5 hectares in the Chassagne “lieu dit” Les Morichots. Les Morichots is located in the lower part of the appellation and has a soil that is particularly rich in iron and flint, giving the wine a distinctive minerality. The vines in the Billard’s parcel have an average age of 45 years. The wine is fermented in cement tanks at low temperatures with a daily punching down of the cap. The wine is then matured in oak barrels for 9/10 months. Typically, 20% of the barrels are new.

Region: Bourgogne

The wine region of Burgundy extends from the town of Chatillon sur Seine in the north to Lyon in the south, though; I prefer to put the southern boundary at Macon, and in this way leave the Beaujolais region as a separate entity. Thus, Burgundy includes the wine regions of Côtes de Chatillon, Yonne, Côte d’Or, Côte Chalonnaise, Côtes du Couchey and Maconnais. The vast majority of Burgundy’s wines are produced from three grape varieties: Aligoté, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and they are produced without blending the different grape types. The result, therefore, is a mapping of these three grape types onto the whole range of Burgundy’s vineyards which consequently offers the wine lover a unique window through which to notice and appreciate the concept of terroir. The difference in taste between Chardonnay grown in Chablis and Chardonnay grown in Macon is something that will always delight me...

The Burgundy vineyards have been intimately worked and studied for many centuries which has resulted in a complex and highly detailed system of nomenclature, one that beginning in the 1930’s the INAO has tried to formalize into a logical network of “appellations controlees”. The system of appellations is uniform in its general outline for Burgundy’s different wine regions, but much less uniform in its application. For example, each of the Premier Cru vineyards in the Côte D’Or and Côte Chalonnaise is associated with its village of origin and corresponds specifically to one plot of land within that village, whereas in the Yonne or Chablis to be exact, the Premier Cru vineyards never make reference to their villages of origin and moreover, the 79 Premier Cru vineyards typically use only 17 names. So, putting differences aside and embracing contradiction, one can say with confidence that the overall appellation structure is organized from the general to the specific. At the most general level, vineyards from any of the Burgundy wine regions can produce white, red, rosé or sparkling wines with the Bourgogne appellation. At the first level of specificity (and beginning of disparity among the regions), there are 24 regional appellations, each of which is comprised of a group of villages which share a common appellation name. Two examples, which illustrate the possible variation in size, are Côtes de Nuits Villages and Macon-Villages. Côtes de Nuits Villages includes nine villages whereas Macon-Villages includes 83 villages. At the next level of specificity, there are 44 local appellations, each of which corresponds to a specific village such as Gevrey-Chambertin and Chassagne-Montrachet. Within the local appellation structure, but higher up the hierarchal scale, there are 750 Premier Cru appellations which mark specific vineyard boundaries within a particular village. Examples are Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru “Petite Chapelle” and Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru“Les Chenevottes”. At the highest level of the paradigm, there are 33 Grand Cru appellations which similarly mark specific vineyard boundaries within a specific village (or spanning two!).

Examples of Grand Cru vineyards are Mazis-Chambertin and Criots-Bâtard-Montrachet. One of the lovely idiosyncrasies is evident from these examples; namely, why the grand cru vineyard “climat” names Chambertin and Montrachet are attached to their respective communes at all appellation levels.

If one is interested and persistent enough to comprehend the lay of the land in terms of its geography, geology and nomenclature, the picture quickly becomes much more complex when the land is divided between the many thousands of Burgundian wine-growers. The average land holding in Burgundy is two hectares (five acres) and in some of the most illustrious vineyards such as Batard-Montrachet a mere twelve hectares can be divided among 55 growers.

A deep knowledge of the wines produced in Burgundy, it is easy to see, would be best left up to those who have lots of free time. People that are teachers or NBA basketball players might have enough vacation time to tackle such a project, but only the NBA player would have the money to taste the wines. Happily, even without four months of vacation or enormous resources, the wines of Burgundy are there to give us all the taste of one of the vine’s favorite places on earth.

Burgundy wine growers certainly have no special claim to the concept of terroir, but they have embraced the notion of terroir in a way that brings it to our attention and gives us much to think about. If our attention is turned to the infinite variations of our mother earth and its ability to give these variations expression through the grape vine and its transformation into wine, then what a lovely reminder that we are from the earth, nourished by the earth and will return to it.