Kermit has long noted the potential of the terroir of Saint-Romain, especially as a source of fine value white Burgundy. In fact, he even urged Jean-François Coche and other great vignerons of the Côte de Beaune to look for vines there in the early days of his career, albeit in vain. But in 2007, he tasted the Saint-Romain blanc from Christophe Buisson. He wrote:
This wine brings back memories from the early days of my career, early wines tasted, a romantic picnic outside the flowery village of Saint-Romain, a bubbling spring with Roman ruins—all these years I have hoped that Saint-Romain's terroir, unique in Burgundy, might be a source of remarkable white Burgundies. Remarkable, but not in the grandiose sense. Remarkably perfumed and flavored, but lighter, more ethereal, less imposing, if you will. Take a look at what we have here, in Berkeley, for the first time. Aroma: subtle, complex, all nuance, with lime and lemon notes, lovely, discreet Chardonnay fruit, and the perfect dash of oak. Palate: I want to photocopy it and show it to everyone as a model of what Chardonnay can produce. You sniff it and taste it and find that you are glad you pulled the cork and have a full bottle to enjoy. I have been searching a long time for this one.
Buisson is one of the rare Saint-Romain specialists, with holdings in some of the appellation's choicest parcels. The stony vineyards here enjoy a bit more altitude than most parts of the Côte de Beaune, and the wines are accordingly brighter and fresher. A traditionalist who has long renounced herbicides and pesticides in the vineyard, Christophe strives for purity and freshness in his wines, so he manipulates them as little as possible in the cellar, timing bottling according to the lunar calendar.
The house style favors precise, approachable wines with lovely fruit and plenty of charm, in both colors. While not everyone stops by Saint-Romain on their tour of Burgundy's great villages, the value and plain deliciousness to be found here make it well worth your while.
Trust the great winemakers, trust the great vineyards. Your wine merchant might even be trustworthy. In the long run, that vintage strip may be the least important guide to quality on your bottle of wine.—Kermit Lynch