Domaine Buisson-Charles Volnay Santenots Premier Cru 2016
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Several years ago, Michel Buisson, the third-generation vigneron of Buisson-Charles, turned over the reins of this 6.3-hectare domaine to his daughter Catherine and son-in-law Patrick Essa. They, in turn, have now handed them to their son Louis, who vinified the 2019 vintage.
Under Patrick’s leadership, the house has reached new heights, producing wines that show beautiful balance; they are concentrated and rich, yet pure and expressive, featuring both the crystalline purity and opulence of Meursault. Vines are tended organically, and the wines see no chaptalization, acidification, or SO2 added during vinification. They are bottled without fining or filtration.
Louis has followed in his father’s footsteps, espousing the estate’s philosophy that many Meursault are harvested too early and, as a result, are too lean, highly sulfured, and one-dimensional. The picking dates and other growing milestones, such as pruning, are later than most peers to extend the overall vegetative cycle. Following these methods, Bouisson-Charles’ finished wines are richer in style than most while also possessing excellent acidity and tension. Buisson-Charles has holdings among the top vineyards in the Côte de Beaune, including parcels of Meursault vines more than a century old. Both Patrick and Louis believe the terroir, not the winemaking, should determine the taste of the wine, and these creations reflect the essence of their appellations.
On the hillsides between Pommard and Meursault, Volnay is one of two villages in the Côte de Beaune of Burgundy that is recognized for its extraordinary Pinot Noir. Pommard is the other; the rest of the villages are most known for some of the most exceptional Chardonnay in the world. While Volnay Pinot Noir tends to be light in color and more delicate than that of Pommard, they typically stand on par with each other in regards to quality and demand.
Volnay can’t claim any Grands Crus vineyards but more than half of it has achieved Premier Cru status. Volnay Premiers Crus vineyards stretch across the entire village from northeast to southwest, abutting and actually falling “into” Meursault. Where they merge is a vineyard called Les Santenots. Pinot Noir grows in this Meursault Premier Cru but since that village is most associated with stellar whites, the Pinot Noir from Les Santenots, takes the name Volnay Santenots. Immediately above it are Volnay’s other prized Premier Cru, Le Cailleret, Champans, Clos des Chênes and Le Cailleret.
Volnay Pinot Noir are earthy with red or blue fruit. Aromas such as smoke, herbs, forest, cocoa and spice are common and on the palate they are gorgeous and concentrated with finesse but won’t truly charm you without some age.
Thin-skinned, finicky and temperamental, Pinot Noir is also one of the most rewarding grapes to grow and remains a labor of love for some of the greatest vignerons in Burgundy. Fairly adaptable but highly reflective of the environment in which it is grown, Pinot Noir prefers a cool climate and requires low yields to achieve high quality. Outside of France, outstanding examples come from in Oregon, California and throughout specific locations in wine-producing world. Somm Secret—André Tchelistcheff, California’s most influential post-Prohibition winemaker decidedly stayed away from the grape, claiming “God made Cabernet. The Devil made Pinot Noir.”