With each successive vintage, Jean-Marc Vincent is proving that with high-quality vineyard sites, tireless hard work in the field, and careful mastery of vinifications, Santenay is capable of rivaling more prestigious crus in the Côte de Beaune. Working the vines organically, as Jean-Marc strives to do, is no easy feat: he estimates approximately 700 hours of manpower per hectare are required over the course of a single growing season! The result is palpable with this latest release, among the most pure, precise, classy wines the domaine has made. The Beaurepaire is a deep, expressive Chardonnay with a minerally grain and the subtlest kiss of toast. From Santenay’s highest-altitude premier cru, this rare white is not to be missed. Enjoy this masterpiece over the next fifteen years.
Anne-Marie and Jean-Marc Vincent inherited most of their vines, principally located in and around the village of Santenay in the southern Côte de Beaune, from Jean-Marc’s grandfather, André Bardollet-Bravard. They produce three premier cru reds and two premier cru whites from Santenay, in addition to a red and a white Auxey-Duresses.
The Vincents’ wine operation is a family affair and A-M and J-M split their time between the vineyards, cellars and their young children. All of their wines are a testament to the importance of vigneron talent in a given appellation. While a great vigneron can make over-achievers from any appellation, a great appellation will never be great in the hands of mediocrity.
In eastern central France, Burgundy is nestled between the wine regions of Champagne to the north, the Jura to the east, the Loire to the west, and the Rhône to the south. This is the terroir par excellence for producing world-class Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
The southeast-facing hillside between Dijon in the north and Maranges in the south is known as the Côte d’Or or “golden slope.” The Côte d’Or comprises two main sections, both composed of limestone and clay soils: the Côte de Nuits in the northern sector, and the Côte de Beaune in the south. Both areas produce magnificent whites and reds, although the Côte de Beaune produces more white wine and the Côte de Nuits more red.
Chablis is Burgundy’s northern outpost, known for its flinty and age-worthy Chardonnays planted in Kimmeridgian limestone on an ancient seabed. Vézelay is a smaller area south of Chablis with similar qualities, although the limestone there is not Kimmeridgian.
To the south of the Côte de Beaune, the Côte Chalonnaise extends from Chagny on its northern end, down past Chalon-sur-Saône and encompasses the appellations of Bouzeron in the north, followed by Rully, Mercurey, Givry, and Montagny.
Directly south of the Chalonnaise begins the Côte Mâconnais, which extends south past Mâcon to the hamlets of Fuissé, Vinzelles, Chaintré, and Saint-Véran. The Mâconnais is prime Chardonnay country and contains an incredible diversity of soils.
Every three or four months I would send my clients a cheaply made list of my inventory, but it began to dawn on me that business did not pick up afterwards. It occurred to me that my clientele might not know what Château Grillet is, either. One month in 1974 I had an especially esoteric collection of wines arriving, so I decided to put a short explanation about each wine into my price list, to try and let my clients know what to expect when they uncorked a bottle. The day after I mailed that brochure, people showed up at the shop, and that is how these little propaganda pieces for fine wine were born.—Kermit Lynch
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