The RN74 road in Burgundy is like driving down a wine list.
Great names, manicured vines; it is, to state the obvious, a place where vineyards have been have been held in loving trust for millennia. Generations of families and growers have worked the land; a place where growers are so well-known by winemakers business is done on a handshake (‘topler’).
But it must be the perverse streak in me, despite having the privilege to taste many Grand Crus from great familes during my time there, one of my favourite wines was a red Saint-Romain from the relatively new winemaker, Christophe Buisson.
Saint-Romain hides behind Meursault. It has no Premier or Grand Crus. Nor is it a place known for red wine. But then Christophe Buisson is not your average Burgundian winemaker. For starters, unlike most born in Burgundy, he is not from a family related to wine, let alone an historical wine family. He owns only 2.5 ha of land (7 ha in total) and is relatively young at 35-years-old. Based in a garage in Beaune, he drives around the vineyards on a heavy, green truck that travels at only 25kms an hour. A true one-man-band: as soon as we left he raced back in to check the tanks.
Asked why he wanted to become a winemaker back in 1996, he says, “It’s important to do what you love to do.” The commitment is evident in the wines.
The 2009 Saint Romain “Sous le Chateau” was the same sort of fun had when greedily picking mulberries as a child until your hands and face, clothes and hair are stained in a purple frenzy. The beautiful, smudgy soft mulberry colour, sweet plum fruit and stewed strawberries on the palate with a pillowy softness and a very dry, clean finish. Deeply forgiving, tender fruit held together by a strength of character and mineral structure.
Other wines of note: 2009 Beaune “Clos Saint Désiré, a white from a vineyard just above Pommard; the 2009 Nuits-Saint-Georges “Clos des Argillieres” from 70-year-old vines with the classic Burgundy perfume of blackberry, rose and the final taste of licking cool, clean stones from a stream. Incredible freshness across all the wines makes them a real drinking pleasure.
Christophe Buisson is a humble man with wines that show great humility. Of course, this only makes them more attractive. Not stratospheric in price, and an excellent mid-term drinking prospect, they are sold mostly in France with limited quantities in the UK, US, Belgium, Switzerland and Japan. For wine lovers, Burgundy is a benchmark region with an incredible history; Christophe Buisson is a name to watch in the future.
Thanks to Bureau Interprofessionnel des Vins de Bourgogne for making this visit possible.
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