If you spent a day or two in the Côte de Beaune, you would probably start in Meursault and the Montrachets—Chassagne and Puligny—and then turn north to hit Volnay and Pommard. But if you headed back to Beaune for dinner without making it to Santenay, just south of Chassagne-Montrachet, near the Côte de Beaune’s southern tip, your tour of the Côte would be incomplete. This small, quintessentially Burgundian village may not be home to the same number of titans who work in each of the exalted appellations above, but at least one couple there is doing a staggeringly good job of showing that Santenay can go toe to toe with many of the more prestigious sites to the north. Anne-Marie and Jean-Marc Vincent inherited their vines from Jean-Marc’s grandfather in 1997 and excelled so quickly that Kermit first imported their wines just a few years later, with the 2000 Santenay rouge premier cru Les Gravières. In the June 2002 brochure, he noted it as “razzle dazzle with class,” which continues to describe the Vincents’ wines well. Nearly twenty years later, I would add: taut, pure, and precise right out of the gate, with fifteen to twenty years of great aging potential. The Vincents, who farm their six-hectare domaine organically and age their wines in a small, ancient cave beneath their home, have always been traditionalists. That’s not to say, however, that they have not refined their techniques somewhat in the nearly twenty years we have imported their wines. Over the last five years, in particular, Jean-Marc and Anne-Marie have decreased the amount of new oak they use to 10 percent for the whites and 25 percent for the reds. In tandem with this transition, they have minimized how much sulfur they use, which has led, Jean-Marc says, to wines that are even fresher and more charming and transparent with respect to their terroirs. The wines have always been beautiful: a few weeks ago, I opened a stately 2009 Gravières rouge, for example. But they have never been better than they are now, and that is saying a lot. As deep as their Santenay lineup is in both red and white, we couldn’t resist including their premier cru Montagny in this collection. It is the exclamation point—the mic drop—on our case that Jean-Marc and Anne-Marie Vincent weave the most beautiful tapestries from the threads of Burgundy’s underdog appellations.
SPECIAL SAMPLER PRICE $282.00
(a 25% discount)
2016 Montagny 1er Cru $46 Lean and chiseled, with notes of citrus, apple, and sea spray, this is the Vincents’ most charming wine in either color right now. Think of it as a southern Chablis—perfect alongside fresh seafood
2016 Santenay Blanc 1er Cru “Le Beaurepaire” $68 Both this Beaurepaire and the Gravières blanc are also chiseled, but they have a little more weight, grip, and aging potential than the Montagny.
2016 Santenay Blanc 1er Cru “Les Gravières” $68 Whereas the Beaurepaire blanc is defined by mouthwatering acidity—think notes of green apple and citrus—this Gravières, as its name suggests, is stonier.
2016 Santenay Rouge “Vieilles Vignes” $60 Exhibiting high-toned, pretty red fruit on the nose, this red is stony, and almost savory on the finish, with a solid tannin for staying power.
2016 Santenay Rouge 1er Cru “Le Passetemps” $67 Earthy, with pretty notes of red and black fruit, this is possibly the most complete of the Vincents’ reds right now. It is reserved, but shows total class.
2016 Santenay Rouge 1er Cru “Le Beaurepaire” $67 More fragrant on the nose than the coyer Passetemps, this beautiful Beaurepaire is firmer on the palate at the moment. It is begging to be cellared for a few more years, and further down the road it will reward you even more.
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.
Drinking distilled spirits, beer, coolers, wine and other alcoholic beverages may increase cancer risk, and, during pregnancy, can cause birth defects. For more information go to www.P65Warnings.ca.gov/alcohol
Many food and beverage cans have linings containing bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical known to cause harm to the female reproductive system. Jar lids and bottle caps may also contain BPA. You can be exposed to BPA when you consume foods or beverages packaged in these containers. For more information, go to www.P65Warnings.ca.gov/bpa