Domaine Gilles Bouton Saint Aubin 1er Cru 'Champlots' 2022
We met Gilles Bouton back in the days of our hotel-barge Le Papillon when we were cruising the inland waterways in search of the real Burgundy. I remember the first taste of his Saint-Aubin 1er Cru ‘en Remilly’, thinking we had discovered the best deal in white Burgundy ever. Gilles Bouton took the reins of his maternal grandfather’s 4 hectare (9.6 acre) domain in 1977. The holding now totals 15 hectares (36 acres) and is spread out over four villages (Saint Aubin, Chassagne-Montrachet, Puligny-Montrachet and Meursault) all prime property in the so-called Golden Triangle of white Burgundy. Gilles was joined by his son, Julien, at the end of 2008. The domain today makes on average 60,000 bottles per year. The Boutons sell most of their wine to private individuals either out-the-door at the domain or at numerous wine salons in France.
From a steep south-west facing slope overlooking the village of Gamay, Les Champlots gets the full afternoon sun, and is hence always that bit more exuberant than the ‘En Remilly’ from the other side of the hill. Expressive, floral, and orange-blossom citric, it’s supple and well-balanced, with a smoky mineral in the finish.
We met Gilles Bouton back in the days of our hotel-barge Le Papillon when we were cruising the inland waterways in search of the real Burgundy. I remember the first taste of his Saint-Aubin 1er Cru ‘en Remilly’, thinking we had discovered the best deal in white Burgundy ever.
Gilles Bouton took the reins of his maternal grandfather’s 4 hectare (9.6 acre) domain in 1977. The holding now totals 15 hectares (36 acres) and is spread out over four villages (Saint Aubin, Chassagne-Montrachet, Puligny-Montrachet and Meursault) all prime property in the so-called Golden Triangle of white Burgundy.
Gilles was joined by his son, Julien, at the end of 2008. The domain today makes on average 60,000 bottles per year. The Boutons sell most of their wine to private individuals either out-the-door at the domain or at numerous wine salons in France.
BURGUNDY 2022 VINTAGE
After three successive high-quality but low-quantity vintages, winemakers in Burgundy are refilling their cellars with an excellent 2022 harvest.This is not to say that it was an easy ride. Once again, frost, heat and drought put stress on the growing season, but timing is everything, and the extreme weather did much less damage than in previous years.
Winters have been wet and mild for years now. The winter of 2021-22 was not, with less than average rainfall and seasonal temperatures. Under these ‘normal’ conditions, we would expect budburst in the first half of April. But summer-like conditions at the end of March forced the vines, especially Chardonnay, to bud early, and we went into frost season with tender green buds exposed. There were two nights in the coming week below zero, but damage was limited.
Spring conditions set in in mid-April, but Summer followed soon thereafter, dry with spiky heat waves. The vines went wild. Winemakers fought to keep the growth under control. And the fight continued until flowering, which happened a couple of weeks early in mid-May.
The warm, dry conditions led to nearly-perfect flowering. We saw for the first time the potential of a great crop, with lots of beautiful, full, well-formed grape bunches; and an early harvest, with fruit setting well ahead of schedule.
But the drought held, and the fear was that this beautiful fruit would shrivel on the vine. Finally, at the end of June, the rain came. Summer storms bring with them the risk of hail, so all eyes were on the sky as the storms were sometimes violent causing significant but limited hail damage. The rains were intermittent, but regular for the next weeks. The cumulative rainfall would not be enough to see the crop through to harvest, however.
The heat waves continued through the rains, and so the risk of fungal disease, usually associated with wet conditions, dried up. But temperatures spiked and dry conditions set in again. The grapes ripened in a full-blown heat wave. Winemakers had to keep a close eye on sugar levels, as the risk was that ripeness could gallop away at the last minute.
And then, just about the time when it looked like an over-ripe mid-August harvest was imminent, it rained again. And the producers were able to let that water absorb into the fruit, increasing the volume of juice that was ultimately harvested in the first week of September.
2022, both white and red, are showing real depth and ripeness. And while there was once again very little malic acid, the tartaric acid holds the balance and structure together. Early tastings in the barrel show enormous charm and vitality. Very promising.
COTE DE BEAUNE
A close neighbor of Montrachet, lying between Chassagne and Puligny, and in places touching on the grand cru vineyards themselves, Saint-Aubin is a wine-growing village in the southern part of the Côte de Beaune in the heartland of the great white burgundies. The neighboring hamlet of Gamay may have given its name to the Gamay grape. The appellation was granted recognition in 1937. The words “Côte de Beaune "(rouge) may be added to the name of the village, or the wine may be labelled as "Côte-de-Beaune-Villages ".
The appellation Saint Aubin covers the village of Saint Aubin and Gamay, and includes 30 premiers crus vineyards. The soil is deep in most parts of these vineyards, and gives a vigorous, full-bodied Pinot Noir, robust yet refined. Tender and fruity, the village wine reaches its peak after 3 to 5 years in the cellar.
White Saint-Aubin can often be as noble as its more famous neighbors of Puligny-Montrachet and Chassagne-Montrachet. When young, it combines aromas of white flowers, flinty minerality, nuttiness and orange blossom. Richer fragrances come with age, beeswax and honey, almond paste and spice. This is a firm wine which becomes fleshier and fuller with time. It has potential to be a wine with real breeding.
Red Saint Aubin is usually dark garnet or crimson color. Its aromas are of blackcurrant, black cherry and often blackberry. These are set off by spicy coffee notes, and can take on very earthy tones. In the mouth it is fat and silky with a lively finish. Older wines are supple, warm and long.
White grapes grow on white clays with a high limestone content ; the reds prefer brownish clays. The slopes are steep in places and face east or southeast. Altitude varies between 300 and 350 meters.
Reds - Pinot Noir
Whites - Chardonnay
Production surface area
1 hectare (ha) = 10000m2= 2.4 acres
Whites: 113.12 ha (including 87.55 ha Premier Cru)
Reds : 49.69 ha (including 35.64 ha Premier Cru)
Saint Aubin whites are a subtle balance between elegant freshness and a rich but not excessive fatness and body, which gives it a fluid, juicy mouth-feel. Wine like this is great with firm-textured fish and grilled or steamed shellfish. It would also go well with free-range, dense-fleshed poultry.
Saint Aubin reds have surprising depth, real earthiness that often verges on Pinot Noir notes of manure. You are looking to match this traits with flavorful meats like roast beef or pork, glazed or bwell-basted poultry, rich full-fat cheeses, or sautéed foie gras. Richness in general goes well with this type of tannin.
On the label, the appellations Saint Aubin' and Saint Aubin 1er Cru may be followed by the name of a specific vineyard, known as a climat.
The following climats are classified as premier cru:
Bas de Vermarain à l'Est
Derrière Chez Edouard
Derrière la Tour
En la Ranché
En Vollon à l'Est
Le Bas de Gamay à l'Est
Les Combes au Sud
Les Murgers des dents de chien
Les Travers de Marinot
Sous Roche Dumay
Sur le sentier du Clou
The following climats are village wines from a single-vineyard, known as a lieu-dit.
Au Bas de Jorcul
Bas de Vermarain à l'Ouest
En Vermarain à l'Est
Le Banc de Monin
Les Travers de chez Edouard
Sous les Foires