Visiting producers in Burgundy is a privilege … meeting all kinds of exciting people and characters. One of the finest moments on my October 2017 trip was a visit at the prominent Marsannay producer Sylvain Pataille.
There is a saying – the wines resembles the people who makes them! I find that this is often true – quite sad for some, but great for others!
In Sylvain Patailles case this s very much the truth – vivacious and energetic wines with a lovely intellectual depth and balance – unique, un-manipulated and natural.
If Sylvain Pataille made wines in Vosne-Romanée he would be one of the most prominent stars of Burgundy, and even though he makes his wines in a far less famous appellation – he is still very well known and appreciated by the true lovers and connoisseurs of Burgundian wines.
About Sylvain Pataille and the estate
Domaine Sylvain Pataille is a relatively new estate in Marsannay – the estate was established by Sylvain in the late 1990s and the first vintage was 1999.
Sylvain is also working as an oenologist – and this is to some degree still is his main occupation. The estate has however grown from being 1 ha at the start in 1999 to now 15 ha – and this is of cause a considerable task to manage such a large estate alongside the oenology business – consulting almost 20 clients currently.
Perhaps Domaine Sylvain Pataille was a side occupation in the beginning – but it’s now a strong occupassion that he is running with his competent staff.
Sylvain Pataille has a very strong passion for the Marsannay appellation and he is putting a lot of efforts into promoting the vineyards and the appellation as a whole – and is working hard to get a classification of the best Marsannay terroirs and to have some of them promoted to 1er cru.
Sylvain Pataille – brilliance at the edge of Burgundy
Marsannay is in the the very northern part of Burgundy – just at the edge of Côte de Nuits – on the border to the outskirts of Dijon – only Chenove, where the vineyards and village meets the urban life, is separating Marsannay from Dijon.
The intellectual style of Sylvain Patailles wines does have a urban element, but the love for the terroirs is rooted in Marsannay – and his approach for viticulture seem to origin from his love and respect for the terroirs – and how these are best expressed in the wines.
The estate is organic since 2008 with a AB/Ecocert certificate. The vinification is clearly based on low intervention – no sulphur added during vinification and only a little sulphur added at the bottling. Pataille is also working with Biodynamic methods – although not certified Biodynamic.
Some would call it natural – but I don’t like the expression as this is often confused with “Vin Nature” and that is often not the same thing.
In my view so called “Vin Nature” is often made without both intervention and skills, whereas a natural approche is about minimum intervention done right and at the right time.
Only limited use of new oak at Domaine Pataille – normally around 15 – 30% and in a few cases up to 50% .. depending on the size of the cuvée.
The Sylvain Pataille estate
The Domaine Sylvain Pataille is almost 100% located in Marsannay – but there are a few exception, as Bougogne Le Chapitre – a vineyard located in Chenove just north of Marsannay is a significant exception.
The following whites are produced:
- Bourgogne Aligoté
- Bourgogne Blanc Méchalots
- Marsannay Blanc
- Marsannay Chardonnay Rose
- Bourgogne Blanc Chapitre
- Marsannay Blanc Charme Aux Prêtres
- Aligoté Auvonnes Au Pépé
- Aligoté Champ Forey
- Aligoté Clos Du Roy
- Aligoté Charme Aux Prêtres
The following reds are produced:
- Marsannay Rosé Fleur De Pinot
- Bourgogne Rouge
- Marsannay Rouge
- Marsannay Rouge Een Clémengeots
- Marsannay Rouge Montagne
- Marsannay Rouge Grasses Têtes
- Marsannay Rouge Longeroies
- Marsannay Rouge Clos Du Roy
- Bourgogne Rouge Chapitre
- Marsannay Rouge Ancestrale
As it can be seen the principle is lieu-dit vinification, thus having the possibility to express and show the different terroirs of the Marsannay appellation. So quite a lot of different wines produced – in relatively small quantities.
Sylvain Pataille is a big fan of the Aligote grape – and he is making several different bottlings of Aligote. These are in my view some of the most balanced and elegant Aligote wines made in Burgundy … I strongly recommend these wines. He does bring forward the refinement and delicacy of the Aligote grape like few others.
Sylvain Pataille is surely taking the challenge – not only is he producing wine in a somewhat overlooked appellation, he is also using a overlooked grape variety … with considerable success I might add.
All his wines has this low intervention joie de vivre energy – that makes you want to consume yet another glass – and open the next bottle. The wines are effortless and in balance … this is why they drink so well.
Tasting notes from the visit October 2017
Domaine Sylvain Pataille was quite badly hit by the 2016 frost – hence limited yields and rather small quantities. As at other estates 2016 also a year with good intensity and concentration.
All the wines here show great balance – and the wines do not seem to have been very stressed by the frost and the low yields, as the wines are harmonious without to obvious low yield expression. My theory is that organic or biodynamic vineyards have coped better with the stress from the April frost – hence also have produced more balanced wines.
All the vineyard and geology descriptions are taken from the Becky Wasserman website – as the have done a very detailed work in describing these.
Sylvain Pataille is making several Aligote wines taking the grape seriously. These are very elegant and harmonious wines – and not like the Aligote wines made with with very high yields from poor terroirs. If treated seriously the Aligote grape can produce some both vibrant and refined wines.
So lets start with the Aligote cuvées.
Domaine Sylvain Pataille, Aligoté Auvonnes Au Pépé 2016
First out the lieu-dit Auvonnes de Pépé from a east-facing slope at 250m altitude, clay and marl soils with many small limestone rocks. This is very fresh and vibrant with a lovely fruity note. On the palate fine concentration and balance – lovely acidity. A refined Aligote in the making.
Domaine Sylvain Pataille, Aligoté Clos Du Roy 2016
The Aligote Clos du Roi is quite a step up – coming from a terroir at 280m altitude, east-facing, well-draining red soils with lots of iron, chalky limestone substrate. The bouquet has a lovely salinity note and the fruit is deep and and generous – vines planted in the early 1930s. On the palate tremendous balance and depth – with a lovely minerality and generous fruit from the old vines. I love the salty minerality in this wine – a gorgeous Aligote.
Domaine Sylvain Pataille, Aligoté Charme Aux Prêtres 2016
The last of the three Aligote wines tasted is a more mineral wine made from more shallow soil. The terroir is located at 280-320m altitude, south/southwest-facing, soils mostly limestone (Crinoidal & Comblanchien) with some ostrea acuminata marl, shallower at top of the slope. This is a wine with more mineral tension … and in a sense less generous than the Clos du Roy. The palate offer a mineral expression of the Aligote grape – with a fresh and vibrant acidity. This is more hardcore … for those who like a intense minerality.
Domaine Sylvain Pataille, Marsannay Blanc 2016
Moving on to the Marsannay Blanc – a quite intense wine, presumably partly due to the low yields. The nose offer generous pure fruit supported by a lovely mineral note. On the palate fresh and vibrant – the 2016 acidity is vivacious – offering a lovely balance to the rather weighty fruit. A beautifully balanced white Marsannay in the making.
Moving on to the reds …
Domaine Sylvain Pataille, Bourgogne Rouge 2016
A fine introduction to the red lineup. Crisp and vibrant red – good intensity for this level. The 2016 vintage do offer fine concentration and energy – lovely pure variation of cherries .. a enjoyable glass offering considerable class and refinement.
Domaine Sylvain Pataille, Marsannay Rouge 2016
The Marsannay village is a step up in concentration and focus – lovely mineral note. In the nose intense and generous fruit – hint of elderberries. On the palate juicy and elegant fruit – very enjoyable and pure representation of the Marsannay terroir.
Domaine Sylvain Pataille, Marsannay Longeroies 2016
This is a floral and quite forward wine – 67% from young vines. It’s for a south/southeast-facing vineyard, at 270-357m altitude, 0-11% slope, red and brown clay soils, yellow marl. A quite energetic wine offering a fine mineral touch and a lovely fruit intensity. Not quite matching the Clos Du Roy and the Ancestrale – but is nevertheless a fresh and elegant wine.
Domaine Sylvain Pataille, Marsannay Clos Du Roy 2016
Marsannay is “figthing” for a 1er cru – and tasting the 2016s this is understandable – especially when one taste the Marsannay Clos du Roy Rouge. This is a vineyard located on the hill south of Chenôve, east/ southeast-facing. Lower part is at 268m altitude, 2% slope, well-draining marl soil with scattered stones and gravel. Upper part is at 311m altitude, 13% slope, soil has Comblanchien limestone scree. To confuse matters Clos du Roy is in fact located in Chenove, that is considered a part of the Marsannay appellation. It’s considered one of the best vineyards in Marsannay … and offer a mineral intensity that could indeed be worthy of a 1er cru status. The bouquet offer plenty of mineral expression, lovely relatively dark fruit – delightful black currant and forest berries. On the palate fine mineral intensity – vibrant and airy with a lovely focus and energy. A fine example of what this appellation can deliver in the hands of the best producers – and in a fine year like 2016.
Domaine Sylvain Pataille, Bourgogne Les Chapitre 2016
Bourgogne Les Chapitre is also in Chenove – but not included in the Marsannay appellation (that would otherwise be a great idea seen from my perspective. Les Chapitre is on the west side of Chenôve, south/ southeast-facing. Lower part of hill is at 269m altitude, 2% slope, marl soil. The upper part at 339m altitude, 18% slope, well-draining limestone scree soil. Les Chapitre is a quite substantial wine and quite serious offering plenty of mineral power and structure. The nose showed some reduction – but revealed a lovely intense fruit and minerality. On the palate quite powerful and intense – indicating a terroir that is well beyond the current classification. This is a mighty Bourgogne – from a terroir rediscovered by both Silvain Pataille and Jean-Yves Bizot – who also produces a remarkable wine from this interesting terroir. Great to see Les Chapitre back on the map and back to previous glory.
Domaine Sylvain Pataille, Marsannay Ancestrale 2016
Last but not least the top wine on the red side – Marsannay Ancestrale – a wine made form old vines (1930 – 1945) from the best parcels in the lieux-dits Clos du Roy, Clémengeot and Les Ouzeloy – hence a very high percentage millerandage grapes. The nose is very exressive and generous – pomegranate, red currant and raspberries – offering a lovely minerality and fruit tension. On the palate gorgeous juicy fruit – mid-palate with a lovely tension and energy. The fruit is silky and delicate with detailed fruit notes. This is truly 1er cru level – a gorgeous wine.