I have quickly established Irancy as a reference wine in my General book of Benchmarks. En-place it tastes brilliant and manages to smell even better – bring it into other contexts and Bourgogne rouge will begin give it a little more competition – but rarely aromatically – and we shouldn’t forget it is usually cheaper than most Bourgognes today – those of the Côte d’Or at any rate.
Saint Bris has always had a harder job establishing itself in my ‘to-buy’ list: Much Saint Bris that I’d tasted was really an overtly varietal Sauvignon Blanc – and less comfortably packaged than, say, a wine of New Zealand – frankly, it wasn’t my thing. Last year, however, when I tasted the wines of Goissot, I was struck by the impression that these wines, though clearly not chardonnay, almost could be – if that makes any sense. What I mean is that the different Sauvignons seemed more to be expression their different plots than the grape – and what could be more Burgundian?
So today I decided, with some help to gather the samples from the BIVB Chablis, to take a wider look at Saint Bris, before attacking the new vintage Irancy. All the wines that follow were tasted blind, before unmasking at the end.
From the following notes, it seems that there might be one or two more addresses worth investigating!
Les Saint Bris
Deep but with some aromatic freshness. This is sauvignon with a small s. Instant attack, but with width and a little silk. Good intensity of long-lasting flavour. Plenty of acidity and thus balance. This is okay.
Fresh and more high-toned, I’d even go as far as to describe this as a pretty nose with some attractive sweet fruit notes. Silky, lithe, mineral with a growth of still silky mid-palate flavour and hint of salt. Super – very Burgundian and long finishing too!
A more modest aromatic with a little toasted bread and only very slowly releasing some finer floral references. Direct, fresh, but finely detailed with a really excellent width of flavour in the mid-palate. The flavour slowly fades, but only very slowly. This is excellent in a little less mineral style versus the last.
Paler colour than many. Fresh and floral. Intense with core of freshness and a long-lasting width of flavour. After the initial kick, I would say fresh and pretty with a floral perfume that lingers. Quite good.
Caves de Bailly
A greener fruit and with more weight too – whilst this seems quite sauvignon in character, it’s fresh and inviting. More obvious sauvignon in the mouth too – intense acidity dictating ‘swallow or spit’ – the flavour is also green-fruited with quite some persistence to the length. Essentially this is borderline sharp without something really interesting to counterbalance.
Domaine Jean-Louis et Jean-Christophe Bersan, Montembrasée
A little more colour here. A different style of nose with some toasty bread and mint – I’d never guess sauvignon. Fine, penetrating, silky flavour with flashes of sucrosity – and good width on the mid-palate too. Not the longest here, but pretty and very tasty…
Domaine Jean-Louis et Jean-Christophe Bersan, Classique
A deeper nose that nods to a similar style to the last, but here is an accent of sauvignon. Fresh, like all it seems, decent energy and not bad complexity – this is a well-made sauvignon blanc of decent brio, but not obviously a thing Burgundian.
Domaine Jean-Francois et Pierre-Louis Bersan
High-toned with toasty oak in the mix too – on second thoughts it’s reduction, not oak. Obvious higher CO2 than the others, so-far, though there’s some intensity to the width of flavour. The finish is the best part where it tenaciously holds-on. Not a wine for my glass based on its current showing.
Domaine Jean-Francois et Pierre-Louis Bersan, Cuvée Marianne
A modest nose with some floral top-notes and an accent of sauvignon below. Fresh, with good attack but no sharp edges. Actually this seems just a little soft, but with a lovely mouth-watering flavour and very good persistence of flavour too. I find this good, despite the softness.
A fresh and quite prettily high-toned aromatic – not too much showing below. Fresh, decent attack and with a lithe, mouth-watering impression to the flavour – Lots of extra flavour dimension and complexity and the merest accent of salt too. Lovely finish. Not the most incisive wine here, but really sits well on the palate and delivers good complexity.
Domaine Philippe Defrance
Very much more herby aromatic here, but salty-herbed – perhaps! Direct, almost sharp, it’s with a sense of relief that something a little more sweet and mouth-watering comes into focus – but a close-run thing…
Fresh, but seemingly modest aromas. – just a suggestion of something sweeter, tight in the core. Lithe with lots of acidity. Fresh, rather sauvignon. No richness, silk or interesting complexity to add interest though, just a little green fruit in a decent finish – the best part…
Domaine Grand Roche
Ouf – I think this is sauvignon blanc! Fresh, green fruit, a little gooseberry too before something riper and deeper. A bit too much dissolved CO2 here. Some green-fruit flavours here and actually not such a bad, if slightly mouth-puckering, green-fruited finish.
Domaine des Remparts
A sweeter aromatic – high-toned, faintly sauvignon – but very inviting too. More sucrosity and good complexity – certainly picked a little riper than many here, the fruit tending to a more exotic spectrum, but there’s good underlying freshness and a decent complexity too. Good wine!
Les Vins de Irancy!
Modest in both colour and concentration versus the 12s, yet with bright, über-pretty pinot fruit.
Modest medium-pale colour. A little sweet strawberry over a little coal/pyrazine – quite attractive aroma. Sweet, just a little round, but with okay underlying freshness. The flavour also holds a little strawberry and a more graphite/coal impression. A modest but very drinkable wine.
Medium colour. Vibrant with violet flowers above, and very pretty fruit below – dreamy pinot aromas in the Irancy vernacular. Fruit conserve flavour with plenty of fine acidity in support. The mid-palate is a line of flavour, partially wrapped in a faint cushion of tannin. Whilst closer to a rosé wine (in a Côte d’Or context), this shows easily the best pinot aromatic of this small selection.
Domaine Felix La Grande Côte Est
Medium, medium-plus colour. A nose with more obvious depth and a faint sweetness, yet, much tighter than the previous wine. Silky and with good intensity. Here’s a more structured wine though with no sharp edges or obvious tannic-fur. More concentrated for sure, and with better length too, yet delivering only modest aroma and flavour today. Very tidy, but not playing today…
Medium, medium-plus colour. Some similarities to the last wine in that this nose is bigger and deeper, without ever showing much interesting detail – just a faint warmth of strawberry. Fine, lithe, energetic and with very good clarity – this has plenty to offer in the mid-palate and shows quite a floral aspect to the fruit flavour. This is super though with just the faintest bitter tannin finish – will be great in 6 months!
Medium, medium-plus colour. Ouf – a very floral aromatic with more pleasant weight of oak support. Fresh, sweet, full of flavour complexity though also barrel complexity – it has to be said. Just a little more tannic drag in the mid-palate, but this is excellent!
Medium colour. A narrower nose but with decent depth though. Also very lovely on the palate with freshness, complexity and a very nice dynamic presentation. Super and much less obvious oak make-up versus the last wine. Super
Caves de Bailly
Medium colour. At the core of the nose there’s a hint of reduction, but above it soars with some florality and an accent of pyrazine. Fine, very complex pinot with a lovely supporting freshness. The finish has a little texture from the tannin but it is very-much modestly presented. This is very good.
Domaine Jean-Louis et Jean-Christophe Bersan, Cuvée Louis Bersan
Medium colour. Fresh, interesting, with faint green herb – an attractive nose that flirts with some florality. Lovely attack and fabulous mouth-watering flavour intensity – there’s a bit more tannin at the base here, but there’s also lots of fine flavour complexity. This begs at least 6 months in the cellar, but it will be worth the wait – lovely! Long finishing with a fine accompanying sweetness.
Medium colour. There’s a dense yet quite pretty strawberry fruit below, with a certain herby freshness above – very nice. Like the last wine, lithe, fresh, many dimensions of clean, pretty flavour – a really excellent extra dimensions of flavour too. There may be some oak hidden here – but really hidden. Excellent!