This weeks article from C. Robert Collins is about another of the overlooked but great reds of Cote de Beaune:
“When history jumps up – the forgotten Santenay”
The search for great wine vineyards can involve studying maps or researching list of owners of famous crus, or sometimes a wine just jumps up and grabs your attention from a tasting.
If you are not afraid to follow the lead, you can discover a ‘Grand Cru’ wine without the price.
I was attending a tasting in Berkeley where various producers were presenting in Seminar the 1976 vintage when such a moment happened. Gerard Potel was presenting his wines, and the focus was on Volnay, his flagship wines.
The starter wine was not Volnay, but a little vineyard from down south, ignored by the press. It was a SANTENAY 1st cru, CLOS DES TAVANNES. This wine jumped out at me, loaded with blueberry fruit and quite full bodied. Afterward, I quizzed Gerard, since I have found it full of life, although completely alien to the Volnays. He confirmed, it was potentially an exceptional wine from the vintage “More like a Morey St. Denis than a Volnay. [Bonnes Mares?]”
At this moment I played more attention to this little [5.4ha] vineyard. It is a historic property [Saulx de Tavannes] with regal ownership, and was listed as exceptional in more than one 19th century reference book. Although it is engaging in its youth, it benefits greatly with at least a decade of age. Santenay commune is much more complex than the quick dismissals in the press give it. But Tavannes may have the favored location, essentially an extension of superb Chassagne land.
I became familiar with more vintages, thanks to the Potel piece, up untill Gerards untimely death. When the wine is dealt with seriously and not as a ‘cash flow’ wine, the results are rewarded.
The most serious flaw I have detected in some examples in other cellars, is that it doesn’t shine if it is aged in too toasty of an Oak barrel. I pinpoint it as one of my favorite undiscovered wines of the Cote.
3 producers of note; Bousse d’Or, Jean-Noel Gagnard, and Muzard.
C. Robert Collins