Poor-old Jean-Marc Vincent was hobbling – he’d hurt his Achilles tendon – he was going to need at least 6 months recovery time. Ouch!
I’d wanted to visit this domaine for ages: the person who I think possibly the best winemaker of the Côte d’Or kept telling me that JM Vincent was the best viticulturist in Burgundy. Another, who I considered (maybe) the best winemaker in Santenay, told me that it was Jean-Marc who was the best winemaker in Santenay – so what do I know? But I’m always ready to learn!
Jean-Marc together with his wife Anne-Marie have run this domaine since 1997; its modest 5 hectares produce an average 25,000 bottles per year so they also augment their production with a small trading business. Jean-Marc, who was living in Alsace, returned to Santenay to take on the vineyards developed by his grandfather – I read that it was a 1947 Santenay made by his grandfather that underlined to him the potential of this location.
“It’s a shame that when people see Santenay on the label they think ‘Oh I should drink that in 2-3 years'”
Since the retirement of his grandfather in 1970, the family vineyards had been put out to rent. The first of the family’s vines that became available was their plot in Auxey-Duresses in 1997 – two parcels set close to Meursault les Vireuls – at ~1 hectare this is still the largest single production of the domaine. It was hard to make a living at the start, so this is when they added a small négoce operation, starting with (white) grape must. Slowly they recovered other parcels as old contracts came to an end.
|Auxey-Duresses Blanc Les Hautés
|Santenay Blanc 1er Cru Le Beaurepaire
|Santenay Blanc 1er Cru Les Gravières
|Puligny-Montrachet Corvée des Vignes
|Santenay Rouge 1er Cru Le Beaurepaire
|Santenay Rouge 1er Cru Les Gravières
|Santenay Rouge 1er Cru Le Passetemps
|Auxey-Duresses Rouge 1er Cru Les Bretterins
The domaine has been ‘99% Organic‘ since 2003, but it seems to me that meticulous, detail-conscious Jean-Marc has most focus on his vines and their training. He trains to keep yields in check, but also trains higher that most of his fellow growers – his canopy height is 1.7 metres in July. Jean-Marc also has chosen to plant at higher densities – not content with having some areas planted at 12,000 vines per hectare (9->10k is ‘normal’), in 2002 he planted part of their Passetemps 1er Cru at 14,000 vines per hectare – the last rows next to Les Gravières – and, please note, he prefers (80%) to use a pair of shears to shape his canopies – not a tractor! Jean-Marc comments “It is an incredible amount of work, but the result is satisfying.”
That comment seems to perfectly encapsulate the man.
Jean-Marc loves his geology too – he seems totally at home, indeed immersed, when discussing the technicalities of his pruning or the changes in the subsoil – I almost have the impression that winemaking is secondary to his connection with the land and vines – but he is no less meticulous in the cuverie. The domaine uses no triage table, rather they make the triage at the vines ‘Training our pickers is the most important duty…’
Reds: Whole clusters are used here, anything up-to 100%, but it depends on the vintage. The tanks are stainless-steel which Jean-Marc appreciates because they can be properly disinfected.
“Our reds receive only a very short cold maceration as longer can be a disaster for brett. Then we make pigeage or remontage – depending on the taste. Helped by our ‘climate control’ and a little retained CO2 I can afford not to use too much sulfur.”
Elevage is usually 16-17 months in ~50% new oak with just one racking before bottling.
Whites: Grapes are slowly pressed. Elevage is in 30-40% new oak, with only about 4-5 battonages, lasting for about 15 months. Like the reds, the only racking as when the wine is assembled for bottling.
First a note on the 2012s:
“We had to make 19 treatments in 2012. We had hail four times – the last time was quite close to the harvest when we lost all of our Santenay 1er Cru.”
This tasting was held in Santenay, 30th November 2012, with Anne-Marie and Jean-Marc Vincent. There was nothing here that I wouldn’t choose for my own cellar. The reds clearly show their stems, but here is a perfume, not a trial…
2010 Anne-Marie & Jean-Marc Vincent, Auxey-Duresses Le Hautes
The nose offers a nice core of sweet fruit notes. Round, beautiful balance, growing acidity – super growth of flavour in the mid-palate where there’s more extract on view. Super.
Hmm – a lovely ‘padded’ nose with a very faint hint of patisserie. The acidity is first to make itself known, then the flavour wells up from the centre – good depth here.
Aromatic depth with an interesting herb note and slowly developing higher tones. More detail and elegance to the flavours – growing intensity and a nice finish. This is very, very good!
There’s a hint of sulfur showing, but there is also some heft to the core aromas, and that’s despite being a little tight. Full, with lovely acidity. Bulkier than the Beaurepaire but it’s fresh with a lovely succulence.
2010 Anne-Marie & Jean-Marc Vincent, Santenay 1er Le Beaurepaire
100% whole clusters here and ‘not a lot of new oak’.
Very perfumed – roses – and beautiful rather than gothic. Round, faintly plush with modest, fine-grained tannin. Very lovely flavour that very slowly fades. Very, very pretty.
Here the nose is much more shy; faint herbs but with something in reserve. This is much more direct in character, but silky and even a hint salty. Lovely concentration. In overall shape this reminds me of Corton.
Some cluster perfume with an accompanying pretty red fruit. Velvet. Lovely concentrated flavour, the acidity slowly bubbling below. The flavour becomes more mineral. Super and much less dismissive of the taster than the Gravières today.