Grape(s): 100% Chardonnay
Localization: Savigny-les-Beaune, Burgundy, France
Tasting Notes: Asian pear, lime zest and crunchy apple are fresh from élevage in a mixture of neutral barrel and stainless steel. There is no shortage of acidity on the finish.
Notes: Three parcels produce this wine: Les Connardises, Les Bas Liards, and Les Pimentiers, planted in 2010, 1989, and 2008, respectively, and totaling just over an acre and a half. Elevage is the same as for the Bourgogne Blanc. Production averages 375 cases.
The Domain: Domaine Serrigny is a family operation deep in the hollow of Savigny-les-Beaune. The household is on the hill behind the local château, and when you pull out of their road you can look down and see the seigneur’s crazy collection of mothballed fighter jets. He’s got them lined up on the chateau’s lawn, an eclectic display of man’s bird of prey.
Domaine Serrigny dates from the late 19th century. It’s made up of 7 hectares of vines (17 acres) and is run today by Marie Laure Serrigny. She’s the fourth generation, and she took over the estate in 1995 with her younger sister Francine. They tended the vines, made the wine, and together did all the myriad of things involved in running a domaine until late in 2016 when Francine succumbed to a long battle with cancer.
Gilles Mathieu, a former member of Jean-Pierre’s team over at Domaine Joseph Voillot, grew up in Savigny and had known the Serrignys all his life. He pretty much insisted that I visit, which I did early in February of 2016 without high expectations. The appellation is dominated by a handful of players and there was no press to speak of on the Serrigny wines.
Francine met me in her little courtyard on a wet afternoon. She wore boots, jeans, an old fleece over a sweater, and she had a tired air of savoir faire. There was no pretense about this grower. Marie Laure, dressed much the same, made an appearance to say hello and left for more pressing matters. The office Francine took me to had the look of a room that had been well used a generation ago. A fax machine still sat in the corner, plugged in. She opened a 2014 Bourgogne Blanc, and from the first scent of orchard fruits and minerals and honey I was carried away. Gilles arrived as the second wine got opened, his bald pate gleaming from the rain and his magnificent, sweptback moustache flaring like wings from his cheeks. As night fell, Jean-Luc Rousseau came in from the vines (at the time, he was Serrigny’s cellar master). A reputed soccer goalie in his youth, he’s an enormous man with a great spread of arms, and he came into the dark room cold, wet, tired, and grateful for a glass. We sat around an old oak table in that modest office tasting what was an eye-opening range of old-vine wines from two vintages as the three friends caught up and warmly exchanged opinions on the wines. Among French growers, this was a common occurrence. For an American, it was a privilege. And not everything in Burgundy had been discovered, that was clear that evening. It was still possible to stumble upon two hardworking sisters who maintained a fax machine, did pigeage by foot, and made killer wines.
Domaine Serrigny farms small parcels in Auxey-Duresses, Côte de Nuits-Villages, Corton Charlemagne, Meursault, Monthelie, and Pernand Vergelesses, but the historic heart of the holdings are in Savigny. The farming culture is lutte raisonnée, i.e., sustainable, and the approach in the cellar is quite traditional. The parcel and the maturity dictate de-stemming entirely or partially or not at all (old man Serrigny apparently never de-stemmed); ferments are spontaneous and the reds undergo alcoholic fermentation in wooden uprights; the cap is still, remarkably, broken up by foot; and all of the élevages take place in older barrels for fourteen months (sometimes less for the whites, sometimes more for the reds) before racking to steel where the wine rests for several more months. No fining for the reds, and bottling with only a light filtration.