Santenay is an appellation for red and white wine. The wines, which are all at village and Premier Cru level, are made in the commune of the same name, which is four square miles, and the commune of Remigny, which is slightly under a square mile. This makes for 320 acres of wine land.
The red wines of Santenay are the most important, making up more than 3/4 of production. The wines are made from Pinot Noir and, like St-Romain reds, they start out bitter and need a few years to show their more elegant, rounded side. The whites are less common, with a simple but pleasant nutty richness.
Santenay was recognized as an AOC in 1970. The usual rules for yields and alcohol levels were laid out. In the 1970s, this was not a popular appellation, and only in recent years has it made a true name for itself in the Côte de Beaune. With the recent financial recession and concurrent change toward better-valued wines, less expensive Burgundies such as Santenay have gained more attention.
Climate and Viticulture
The two villages are located around Maranges, at the very south of the Côte de Beaune. This means slightly warmer weather, and so Pinot Noir often cannot be made with the complexity that it can in the more northerly appellation. The climate is hilly, which is beneficial towards wine production, but the soil isn't quite rich and concentrated enough to produce great wine. Chardonnay, which is easier to please, doesn't find its greatest slopes in Santenay, but can produce a wine of good character.
- Pinot Noir: The finicky grape Pinot Noir has many terroir needs in order to compensate for the unsatisfyingly warm climate in this southerly area. Fortunately, solid if not outstanding limestone soil and gently rolling slopes are factors that help to make wine of good quality. Perhaps due to the warm weather, these wines' structured, earthy flavors shut down in bottle and need about five years of aging to manifest themselves. From some producers, this never happens; from others, an excellent Pinot Noir emerges.
- Chardonnay: In this village, Chardonnay its best is capable of taking on a rich, layered texture and pleasant if not thrilling flavors. Unlike the reds, age will not do much for these wines.
We list five producers of red Pinot Noir wines and five more Chardonnay producers. Here are the Pinot Noir makers; their specific wines are discussed under the subregions page below.
- Maison Camille Giroud
- Dominique Laurent
- Nicolas Potel
- Domaine de la Pousse d'Or
Here are the five Chardonnay makers of note. These are also discussed under subregions.
- Michel Coutoux
- Château de la Maltroye
- Bernard Morey et Fils
- Domaine Vincent et Sophie Morey
Santenay has no Grands Crus. Jadot lays claim to the only major lieu-dit, Clos de la Malte, from which they make a somewhat light, fruit-forward wine that defies the traditional earthy flavors of the appellation. Here are the 12 vineyards designated as Premier Cru.
- Clos Faubard
- Clos des Mouches
- Clos Rousseau
- Clos de Tavannes: This vineyard is one of the two very common and reliable Santenay red wine vineyards. Potel's red offering is his best in Santenay, with roundness to accompany intense, structured, but pleasant cherry and red fruit notes. Domaine de la Pousse d'Or is the critics' choice, with classically austere but extraordinarily complex structure in their flavorful Pinot. There are a few other good offerings as well.
- La Comme: Two producers make excellent white wine here. Michel Coutoux's is ripe with a clear oak influence, and is approachable at a young age even if lean in some vintages. Château de la Maltroye's offering here is similarly ripe and elegant, again with lean off vintages.
- Grand Clos Rousseau: More common than plain Clos Rousseau, this vineyard is a fairly steady leader.
- Les Gravières: The other of the two clear leaders of the Santenay Premiers Crus. Domaine de la Pousse d'Or's red offering stands out, with solid red fruit flavors and lots of backward intensity. With aging these wines can often be the most complex Pinot Noirs in Santenay. There are also a number of other great producers here.
- La Maladière
- Passetemps: The Moreys seem to have this Premier Cru under their thumb. Vincent et Sophie Morey's pineappley Chard is elegant but not as complex as that of Bernard Morey et Fils. Bernard's firmer, minerally wine can be very austere in its youth but shows great complexity with the right amount of aging.