Bonjour les amis du vin,
This is an image of the heart of Savigny les Beaune of Burgundy’s Cote de Beaune. Map of Savigny
The purple colored parcels are village level vineyards; the darker red parcels are 1er cru vineyards.
The photo is from standing in aux Serpentieres, looking south across the valley towards les Jarrons and les Narbantons. Aux Guettes is both behind and to the looker’s right.
This wide valley entrance, narrowing as it approaches the town (to the looker’s right, or the gray colored portion at the top of the map), with S-SE facing sloped vineyards on both sides of the Rhoin river, has to be my favorite showcase for deep, substantially ageworthy Burgundian character, at prices that are literally easier to swallow than almost any other red wine village in the Cote d’Or. There are 22 different 1er crus in Savigny, the most important of which brilliantly capture the site specific differences in character that are a major part of Burgundy’s magic. Add into the mix the variety of house winemaking styles, and voila! You have an affordable playground to explore the real guts of Burgundy.
Of all of the growers in Savigny, there are but a few that are considered among its elite; the two I chose to work with, albeit in VERY different house styles, are very often the first mentioned…: Jean Marc et Hugues Pavelot of Domaine Pavelot and Patrick Bize of Domaine Simon Bize.
Father Jean Marc and son Hugues Pavelot are the driving force behind Domaine Pavelot. The house style is very focused and linear, with virtually always 100% destemmed fruit; this makes for a very clean and direct style that I’ve often referred to as being “gourmand”. (A gourmet eats only fine food, a gourmand simply loves to eat!!) Tasting through the impressive variety of 1er crus offers a textbook microcosm of the effects of terroir in action. I find that the wines show very well both young and old, with a terrific balance of fruit and guts that makes lovely old bones. Son Hugues is continuing to improve his game, with the ’09 and ’10 vintages perhaps being his finest yet. Their “flagship” wine, a 1er cru called la Dominode, is from a sweet spot within the 1er cru Jarrons. Pound for pound, it is undoubtedly of the greatest values in Burgundy, if not the world!, a terribly complete wine of deep, broad, and savory stuffing. It is broadly recognized among Savigny’s finest wines, if not its finest, in virtually every vintage.
Domaine Simon Bize is altogether another animal. The signature old-school whole cluster regimen (100% stem inclusion in most vintages) is a defining characteristic of the Bize wines; this imparts a certain spicy funk to the wines, as well as giving them a bit of additional nerve or tension for aging. These are wines that are more apt to really sing with age, although the ripeness of 2009 allows easier accessibility. His entry level white and red in 2010 are of the best value buys of the vintage. Patrick Bize’s flagship wine would have to be his 1er cru Aux Vergelesses, in both white and red. The white is amazing to my taste, one of the best buys in white Burgundy. While the ’09 aux Vergelesses rouge has a softer, open-knit personality that is a reflection of the solar ’09 vintage, the ’10 is crackling with energy, featuring the kind of tension that fans of the domaine covet. It is an absolute no brainer that will cruise in the cellar. His 1er Guettes is also of Savigny’s finest, from within the Clos des Guettes; this has “upper slope” character in spades……..
2009 Savigny les Beaune 1er aux Vergelesses blanc $55
“”The Savigny “les Vergelesses” blanc is a step up from the fine village wine and has to be one of the best white Burgundy values of the entire vintage! The stunning nose soars from the glass in a blaze of pears, apples, fresh almonds, acacia blossoms, beeswax, white soil tones and a whisper of vanillin oak. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and shows off great cut and grip, with superb mid-palate depth, laser-like focus and a very long, nascently complex finish. Stunning juice…” 93+ points John Gilman
2009 Savigny les Beaune 1er aux Vergelesses rouge $55 in 750 $109 in Magnum
“”And the Savigny ‘Vergelesses’ this year in the Bize cellars- simply stunning! The brilliant bouquet roars from the glass in a beautiful blend of red and black cherries, raw cocoa, a myriad of Savigny spice tones, very complex minerality, roses and woodsmoke. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and utterly seamless, with great mid-palate depth, stunning purity, ripe, elegant tannins and superb length and grip on the tangy and transparent finish. A great bottle of wine!” 94 points John Gilman
2009 Savigny les Beaune 1er aux Guettes $55
“A reserved but elegant, pure and highly complex nose offers up intense floral
2010 Bourgogne blanc les Champlains $25
“The 2010 les Champlains is an utterly stunning bottle of wine and I cannot emphasize strongly enough how worthwhile a special search of the market will be to latch onto this superb wine, as its quality simply transcends that of Bourgogne blanc! The great nose soars from the glass in a blaze of apples, peaches, orange blossoms, a great base of soil, a hint of honeycomb, and a lovely topnote of acacia blossoms. On the palate, the wine is deep, full-bodied, pure and very very complex, with a great core of fruit, superb cut and focus and simply stunning length and grip on the classy finish. A beautiful, beautiful bottle of wine. ” 91 points John Gilman
“The Bourgogne “les Perrières” had already been assembled in
tank inpreparation for bottling soon after the New Year and was showing very well indeed. Thedeep, complex and quite soil-driven nose offers up a fine mélange of dark berries,espresso, woodsmoke, dark soil tones and a touch of fresh herbs in the upper register. Onthe palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, complex and very transparent, with a lovely core,fine-grained tannins and really superb length and grip on the focused finish. A veryclassy bottle of Bourgogne!” 90 points John Gilman.
“”The 2010 Savigny-lès-Beaune ‘les Vergelesses’ from Domaine Bize was also now in tank and was showing exceptional potential. The deep, pure and nascently complex nose soars from the glass in a beautiful mélange of black cherries, dark berries, bonfires, a brilliantly complex base of soil, espresso and a pungently floral topnote of violets. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and very pure, with a sappy core of fruit, stunning soil inflection, ripe, fine-grained tannins, laser-like focus and outstanding length and grip on the perfectly poised, youthful and refined finish. A great, great bottle of Savigny in the making.” 95 points John Gilman2010 Savigny les Beaune 1er aux Guettes $59
2009 Savigny les Beaune villages $29 in 750ml $18 in 375ml
2009 Pernand Vergelesses 1er aux Vergelesses $39
“”The 2009 Pernand ‘aux Vergelesses’ is also outstanding in 2009, as it offers up the depth of pure fruit of the top examples of the vintage and shows no signs of overripeness. The bouquet delivers a fine mélange of plums, black cherries, cocoa, stony soil tones and just a whisper of the gamebirds to come with further bottle age. On the palate the wine is full-bodied, broad-shouldered and quite elegant, with impressive mid-palate depth, lovely purity, ripe tannins and fine length and grip on the classy finish. This is quite 1999-like again, with perhaps suaver tannins. A lovely bottle in the making.” 92 points John Gilman
2009 Savigny les Beaune 1er aux Serpentieres $45
“…another excellent example of the vintage. The wine jumps from the glass in a fine aromatic blend of cassis, black raspberries, woodsmoke, gamebird, chocolate and complex soil tones. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and quite plush on the attack, with ripe tannins, fine mid-palate depth and a long, complex and classy finish. Again, the ’09 Serpentières is quite 1999-like in style and will make a lovely bottle with five to seven years of bottle age.” 91 points John Gilman
2009 Savigny les Beaune 1er aux Guettes $39
“Good ruby-red. Restrained aromas of blackberry, licorice and mint. Densely packed and suave but youthfully closed today. Dark fruit flavors are framed and extended by pronounced minerality. Finishes long and firm, with notes of bitter chocolate and crushed stone. Still an infant; today the terroir shines through above the ’09 vintage character. There’s nothing easy about this serious Savigny wine.” 91 points Steven Tanzer
2009 Savigny les Beaune 1er les Narbantons $39
“Continuing the roller coaster ride here, the 2009 Narbantons is pure, ripe and beautifully balanced, with no signs of overripeness on either the nose or palate. The bouquet offers up a fine mix of black cherries, dark chocolate, currants, woodsmoke, raw cocoa and excellent minerality. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, complex and absolutely classic in style, with a rock solid core of fruit, ripe tannins and lovely acidity adding bounce and precision on the long and focused finish. ” 92+ points John Gilman
2009 Savigny les Beaune 1er la Dominode $55 in 750, $109 in Magnum
“Good ruby-red. Crushed blackberry, raspberry, mocha and menthol on the nose, with a suggestion of superripeness. Silky, juicy and sweet, offering a rare combination of sheer sucrosite and inner-mouth lift; terrific dark fruit intensity here. Shows little sign of surmaturite or heat in spite of the 13.5% alcohol. Finishes with ripe, granular tannins, a note of licorice and lingering sweetness. The Pavelots made 40 barrels of this superb and atypically powerful wine.” 93 points Steven Tanzer
2010 Savigny les Beaune villages $29
2010 Pernand Vergelesses aux Vergelesses $39
“(from vines planted in ’76). As with the Narbantons, 2010 will be the last vintage for this wine. A deft touch of wood sets off exceptionally ripe plum, cassis and black raspberry liqueur aromas. There is excellent detail and energy to the restrained and beautifully well-delineated flavors that possess an impeccably well-balanced if markedly firm finish that delivers fine length. This isn’t quite as complex as the Narbantons but there is a more pronounced sense of minerality that is attractive in its own fashion.” 91 points Burghound
2010 Savigny les Beaune 1er aux Serpentieres $39
“The bouquet is deep and complex, offering up scents of black cherries, dark berries, a touch of venison, espresso and stony minerality. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and very primary in profile, with a rock solid core of fruit, tangy acids and very good length and grip on the focused and ripely tannic finish. This will need plenty of time in the cellar, but should prove to be excellent. ” 90-92 points John Gilman
2010 Savigny les Beaune 1er aux Guettes $39
“(2010 will be the last vintage for this wine). An admirably pure and well-layered nose of plum, black cherry and Savigny style earth merges into very rich and round flavors that possess excellent volume and plenty of mouth coating extract. The moderately firm tannins are well-integrated and there is so much concentration that this beautifully complex effort will drink well young or benefit from up to a decade of cellar time. ” 92 points Burghound
2010 Savigny les Beaune 1er les Gravains $39
“The 2010 Gravains from Domaine Pavelot is a very closed and reserved wine at the present time, but with good underlying purity and promise. The deep, complex and refined nose offers up scents of cassis, black cherries, dark berries, coffee bean, fresh herbs, gamebirds and a complex signature of soil. On the palate the wine is full-bodied and quite pure on the attack, with a rock solid core of fruit, ripe tannins, fine focus and grip and a very long, reserved and promising finish. This will be lovely in the fullness of time.” 92-93 points John Gilman
2010 Savigny les Beaune 1er la Dominode $49 in 750 $109 in Magnum
“The 2010 Pavelot Dominode is excellent and clearly the star of the cellar in this vintage. The deep and superb nose jumps from the glass in a blaze of cassis, black cherries, currant leaf, espresso, charred wood, black minerality, woodsmoke and a nice touch of new oak. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and very complex, with a fien core of fruit, a very soil-driven personality, ripe tannins, tangy acids and outstanding length and grip on the beautifully delineated finish. A lovely, lovely bottle in the making. ” 93-94 points John Gilman
For both connoisseurs and newbies, Savigny of this caliber represents some of the finest value in Burgundy. From these two “cherry” vintages, we have an embarrassment of riches to choose from. I heartily recommend mixing a case of different 1er crus; to get to compare and contrast the evolution of the various 1ers over time is precisely the kind of exercise that will give you a baseline understanding of how Burgundy evolves, and how very different the site driven character is. As I frequently hear people bemoan the inaccessibility price-wise of great Burgundy, these are some of my go to counterpoints……..as always, with any questions or interests, you can find me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cheers to the health of you and yours!