There are a lot of winemakers people like to call “legendary,” and often times, the prices for their bottles are drastically inflated — not just because the stuff tastes good, and comes from pricey vineyard land, but also because of the name behind it.
Philippe Pacalet is one such winemaker, but his fame was earned not only for his skills in the cellar. It is because he is one of the strongest living links to two of the most seminal figures in modern French winemaking: Jules Chauvet, and Marcel Lapierre.
Chauvet was a chemist and winemaker who began experimenting with the elimination of sulfur in winemaking, and Lapierre was one of the winemakers who followed Chauvet’s lead, turning Beaujolais wine back toward its ancestral style of low-sulfur, organic production. It’s this group of winemakers that Kermit Lynch dubbed “the Gang of Four,” and without them (and, arguably, Lynch) we wouldn’t have seen the revolution in style that occurred in French winemaking in the Twentieth Century. (More about that in my Eater article on Gamay, here.)
It’s in print and not online, but there is a PDF of my short profile of Pacalet. I have a lot more material from the interview with him and, someday, I’ll do something with it. But here is this snippet, for now. His wines are very expensive and usually need many years of aging to be at their best (I had a 2008 recently that was wonderful), so if you have a chance to taste one, don’t hesitate.