Marc Soyard is a limitless and unrestrained talent. He never seems afraid to try new things, and in his cellar there are always new projects and experiments brewing.
Not all the experiments are to my liking, but Soyard’s desire to improve, challenge received wisdom, and push the boundaries is exemplary. Marc has respect for the grapes and the traditions, but still has the courage to question the whole concept time and time again. There are not many of his kind in Burgundy – sadly.
Let’s look more closely at his project.
Domaine de la Cras – an alternative setup
Domaine de la Cras is owned by the city of Dijon, and Marc Soyard is the manager and winemaker at the estate located just outside the city, on the côte northwest of Marsannay and Chenôve.
The city of Dijon purchased the 160-hectare agricultural property in 2013, where the previous owner had already built some winemaking facilities and planted eight hectares of vineyards – five of red and three of white.
View towards Dijon from Domaine de la Cras’ vineyards
The vineyards are classified as Bourgogne AOC, and there is the possibility of planting an additional 13 hectares. The vines currently in production are around 35 years old, offering a perfect start for the project.
Dijon initiated a search to find a manager and winemaker for the estate, and one of the criteria was that the vineyards had to be farmed organically. Another criterion was that it should be a young vigneron with no family vineyards.
The rent for the estate was set at 2,000 bottles of wines per year, with the manager then allowed to produce his own wine from other vineyards using the facilities at hand.
They chose the young Marc Soyard!
Marc Soyard – from the Jura, via Vosne-Romanée, to Dijon!
Marc Soyard, of Jurassian origin, is the perfect man for the job, as he came from the position of vineyard manager at Domaine Bizot in Vosne-Romanée. For six years he worked in the vines for Jean-Yves Bizot, who has an organic and biodynamic approach. Furthermore, he worked closely with Jean-Yves learning the winemaking process at Domaine Bizot.
Jean-Yves Bizot has clearly been an inspiration for Marc Soyard, and his product is closely related style-wise to the magnificent Bizot wines.
Marc has adopted Domaine Bizot’s philosophy at Domaine de la Cras. The vineyards are farmed organically, with some biodynamic methods applied. The reds are normally made with 100% whole-cluster grapes, natural yeasts, and a mix of new and old oak, giving a somewhat lesser impression of wood than the wines from Bizot.
Domaine de la Cras is the only estate allowed to produce the Coteaux de Dijon appellation. Marc Soyard began with the 2013 vintage, and is gradually expanding the portfolio of wines produced by the estate.
The wines today
His inspiration clearly comes from Bizot and his wife Claire Naudin. These are free, low-sulphur, whole-cluster wines that are intense and expressive.
Sometimes a bit on the challenging side, and frisky with volatile acidity, the recent hot vintages frequently show some reduction early on. They are also more like the Naudin wines than those of Bizot, as the latter has a stronger oak influence.
I also think there is greater consistency among the wines in Marc’s “regular” portfolio than in his more experimental production, which gives his creativity and crazy streak free rein.
Tasting Notes for the 2020s from Marc Soyard
The “regular” cuvees:
Marc Soyard/Domaine de la Cras Bourgogne Coteaux de Dijon Blanc 2020
The 2020 Bourgogne blanc is a vivid and quite concentrated fellow, and more serious than is normally seen from Soyard. This is a vintage that means business, and the whites from 2020 seem of high quality. It’s made from the lower section of the vineyard Le Grande Bessy (2.5 ha), and is balanced and mineral-driven, with quite weighty fruit for this level. The nose offers vivid white and some yellow fruit and is quite cool with only minimal exotic hints, and a gorgeous mineral note. This is a wine to seek out; I really enjoy the style and coolness. Points are pointless: just enjoy!
(Drink From 2022) – Good (87p) – Tasted 15/06/2021 –
Marc Soyard/Domaine de la Cras Coteaux de Dijon La Cras Blanc 2020
From the steeper, top part of Le Grande Bessy (0.5 ha), this has a pronounced, drop-dead gorgeous minerality that’s stony and vivid. The terroir of Le Grande Bessy has some very fine, unique qualities that give a different dimension to the chardonnay grape than other northern appellations like Marsannay. The fruit in the 2020 is cool and pure – white fruit predominantly – with an intense stony minerality. This is a magnificent glass, expressing the full potential of the Coteaux de Dijon appellation.
(Drink From 2026) – Very Good (89p) – Tasted 15/06/2021 –
Marc Soyard/Domaine de la Cras Bourgogne Rouge 2020
This is the entry-level wine of the Domaine de la Cras line-up, i.e. a wine made from the estate vineyards – excluding the top part of Le Grande Bessy. It is more serious than the reds below; not quite as experimental, but still vivid, with a strong whole-cluster presence and other traits one would expect. It’s fairly dark and intense, with very good acidity (typical in 2020). The use of 10% new oak casks does keep the temper down (a bit).
(Drink From 2022) – Very Good (87p) – Tasted 15/06/2021 –
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