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Volnay Clos Santenots – Jacques Prieur

DSC09893Tasted in Meursault with Nadine Gubin and Martin Prieur, 30 March 2016.

The Clos des Santenots is a narrow but long strip of vines, enclosed by stout walls, and forms the last part of the Santenots area to the North in the direction of Volnay. The vines lie next to Chevrets, and cover 1.19 hectares – they are in the Santenots du Milieu.

The domaine follows ‘biologique’ viticulture, if not certified. This is an early ripening area, one of the first to be harvested, if not especially different to the neighbouring vines outside the wall – here is always, together with Beaune Grèves and Beaune Bressandes the first veraison.

The wines…

Here we taste only the Clos Santenots, the old parts of the vineyard were planted in 1969 – these old vines are mainly in the bottom of the vineyard. It’s very hard limestone here, with a ‘very nice’ clay – classic argilo-calcaire soil, which drains quite well. “It’s the best clay, and the best angle – really the best combination of factors” says Nadine. The domaine’s young vines were planted in 1997, they are not yet at the level to be included, but there’s no cut-off date, when they are good enough they will Be included – to paraphrase a footballing saying, when they are good enough, they will be old enough!

The 2014 is only just bottled, but due to hail there is no 2012 or 2013 Clos des Santenots. The domaine also has vines in the middle of Plures – before 2000 they had a Santenots that came from there, but it was replaced with chardonnay about that time.

A good vintage brings about 1,200 bottles – 0.6 ha of old vines, 2-5 barrels are the peaks and troughs. 50% new oak from 2009, both the 2007 and 2008 were 100% new oak! The dark finishing flavours are mouth-watering and often in the direction of a salty licorice – maybe that’s the barrels…

Overall I find these wines not just impressive, but with a very consistent personality. They are mouth-watering food wines, certainly without the fruit of Clos des Chênes or the brilliant clarity of Caillerets, or the easy, supple drinking wines of Lafon – but I really like that you always get what you expect!

2014
Bottled less than 3 weeks ago – without hail there’s only 20-22 hl/ha, probably there’s less than 12 here.
Deep colour. Deep, dark fruit, a certain silk, but a little modest top notes. Tiny pretty fruits slowly start to open up from the glass. Wide, sleek, intense wine – rather more direct than many in 14 – intense and then really widens again, this is very long with a certain mineral note to finish. Very long and direct – impressively so – slowly a hint of oak surfaces over the nose.

2011
Started harvest here around 31 Aug/1 Sept.
As always here – rather deep colour. It’s a wide, involving nose of much redder fruit than the dark colour suggests. Here is a nice floral element too – in the mouth, a first line of sizzling acidity, behind a wave of flavour – a little more mineral than obvious fruit. But really a good width of flavour and some salinity too. A more mineral style. The nose becomes darker but the red fruits are persistent in support.

2010
A little less deep colour, just a little less younger looking too. Much wider panorama of aromas, the most floral too. Here mixed with wild strawberry – this is the more classic Volnay expression. A ripe red fruit in the middle of this wine, lots of freshness, like the others fine textured, but again with a certain mid-palate and finishing salinity. A more obvious fruit to start, but the rest of the wine is mineral – a considered minerality.

2009
Another early vintage – the 7th September.
Back to the deep colour. Deep nose, darkly fruited, a suggestion of fresh minerality, but certainly less wide and open as the 2010 – faint, smoky leather. Sumptuous in the mouth, the same acidity mixed with salinity, excellent texture, just a hint more fat, not obviously 2009, dark mineral finishing – as seemingly always – and really super long.

2008
One of the latest vintages, starting about the 25 September. A little hail early in the season. Did some triage in the vines a couple of weeks before the harvest. The hail was the Saturday of the last week of July – virtually only in Volnay.
Modestly lighter. Here is another register of aroma – fresh but never sharp. Here is a very mineral palate – lots of salinity here and behind a wide wave of attractive flavour. Fresh, acidulated red fruit – almost redcurrant. Wide and long in the finish too. – super long and still super-young.

2007
Another very early vintage here could have just been in August.
Warmer red fruit, but still very much in the direction of strawberries. In the mouth this is still rather fresh, a fine red fruit behind, very little that is out-of-place, almost a certain elegance. Faintly mineral in the finish – probably the lowest salinity of any of these wines – certainly no lack of finishing persistence. The almost macerating fruit on the nose, with aeration is taking on a nicer focus.

2006
Mid-September harvest – warm and nice weather.
A hint of colour development. A fine, fresh, deep strawberry red fruited nose almost wild fruit with some additional development – really attractive and inviting. Presence in the mouth, good texture, lots of concentration, the return of the salinity. Long, almost chewy, mineral finish. Still really a baby.

2004
Late hail – twice.
Deep colour, really a more mature colour. Here is a modest nose of 2004, not really direction of peanuts, remaining closer to a floral impression. Mouth-filling, again strongly saline, a certain extra sweetness. Not quite the smoothest, and a certain pyrazine in the background. But altogether this is quite good wine for the vintage.

1990
Deep but mature colour. Deep, deep nose – the first vintage of Nadine here – not filtered. But this retains great freshness too. I wait for an apparent reduction to fade and there’s cassis and coffee too. Big in the mouth but also with lots of sweetness edged with salinity, faintly spiced. Very large-scaled in the mouth, really super complex and brilliantly long.

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