Vincent Girardin Volnay Les Santenots Premier Cru 1999
The history of Maison Vincent Girardin is relatively recent. In 1980, at the age of 19, Vincent Girardin, the son of a family of winegrowers based in Santenay since the 17th century, decided to strike out on his own and began producing wine from five acres of vines that he had inherited from his parents. From his earliest youth, Vincent had a passion for working with vines and great respect for the potential that they represent, and his ambition was to produce his own wine. The quality of his wines was quickly recognized by connoisseurs all over the world, and this enabled him to expand his activity, focusing primarily on the great white and red wines of the Côte de Beaune. To cope with the growing demand for his wines, he developed an approach that was new in Burgundy: he purchased grapes from producers who shared the same philosophy and the same high standards. In 2012, Vincent Girardin sold his operation to a long-standing partner of the Maison. Jean-Pierre Nié, President of the Compagnie des Vins d’Autrefois in Beaune, naturally decided to continue with the small team of nine people that had been faithful to the Maison for many years. Today, Eric Germain continues to uphold the style of the wines, and Marco Caschera markets them all over the world.
On the hillsides between Pommard and Meursault, Volnay is one of two villages in the Côte de Beaune 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.”