Seiichi Saito of Petit-Roy makes great Burgundy... and Bugey!

Seiichi Saito Loves Altesse: Two Limited Bugey Vintages from Burgundy's Petit-Roy (PLUS an unbelievable Chignin from Berthollier)

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Do you know Seiichi Saito? Of Chinese heritage but raised in Japan, he owns the exciting and young Burgundian "micro-négoce," Petit-Roy. Seiichi first came to Beune to study winemaking in '06, and in 2008, he made it his permanent home. He's had quite the career since, working for some of the most coveted domaines in Burgundy. According to Becky Wasserman & Co., he's had stints at Bize, Mugnier, Rousseau and Leflaive. The talented winemaker even co-opened a very popular restaurant, La Lune, in Beaune. It was after all this that Seiichi decided to create his own wine label. Today, Petit-Roy is a name Burgundy lovers across the globe trust for great Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Aligoté. That said, production is small and stock vanishes quickly. Chambers has sent a couple of offers highlighting Seiichi's style. Both times, the wines on sale were bought up remarkably fast.

Seiichi Saito, of Petit-Roy (Becky Wasserman & Co. Site)

You might know all these details about Seiichi's story, but there is a part you most likely don't...

This man makes a beautiful Altesse - from organic fruit grown on the slopes of Bugey's famed Montagnieu hillside... an area not exactly close to Beaune. My brain exploded when I found this out. In a short email exchange with Seiichi, I asked, "Why Altesse?" He loves the grape, he told me. Even with all his experience and success in Burgundy, his appreciation for this little known variety brought him into the Alps, and, of course, he wanted to vinify it like he would a Bourgogne Blanc. You can take the vigneron out of Burgundy, but you can't take Burgundy out of the vigneron, I've often noticed. This afternoon, we're extremely proud to offer a side-by-side, both the 2018 and 2019 vintages, of this incredible Altesse cuvée.

A two hour drive to Montagnieu (Google Maps)

Seiichi explained that the '18 was aged for 9 months in barrel and saw no filtration. He described it as a food wine, in a "natural" style. The '19, on the other hand, was aged for 12 months in barrel, and saw a light filtration. To the winemaker, this vintage is "refined and long." For the most part, this what I tasted: 

The 2018 is mineral and grassy on the nose. Aromas of crushed raw almonds, dried apricot, and lovely, earthy, wet clay add depth and stunning character to its bouquet. On the palate, orange pith, lemon peel, and white tea develop on day two - after stronger flavors of fresh citrus and crisp apple on day one. There is a candied sweetness on the finish that rests on the back of the tongue while the wine's determined-yet-balanced acidity persists around it. More rustic than the '19, more crunchy and gritty, but just as compelling.

The 2019 is more savory on the nose, with a lace of elegant richness presenting a combo of warm herbal tones and attractively fragrant floral notes. Lime zest, mint, oyster shell and pear add to the wine's aromatic complexity. On the second night, a wispy, flinty smoke appears. The palate is spicy, with freshly ground white and black pepper, hints of pine, and sparky limestone dancing above flavors of orchard fruit and healthy, tart lemon. The '19 has more density on the tongue than the '18 and its finish displays just a touch of creaminess, cut with fresh acidity.

Regardless of their differences, when either wine is compared to the Altesse of Patrick Charlin or Franck Peillot, both icons of Montagnieu (where Altesse is known as Roussette), Seiichi's have more snap. They aren't as golden and plump. They aren't as aromatically ripe. They accentuate the natural mineral power of Altesse while showcasing the tension between acidity and tenderness on the drinker's palate. There is an exactness to them. Trimmed of extra fat, they display gorgeous strength. As it almost always goes with great wine, the last glass from both bottles were the best. Both of these vintages will age well for the next 3 to 5 years, but likely even longer!

Bugey might be microscopic to some wine enthusiasts, but in recent years it has been attracting very high-level talent and it has proven to be a hotbed for creative and thoughtful winemaking. Though Petit-Roy will always be known first for its remarkable Burgundy wines, it is a testament to the quality of Altesse and Bugey that such an esteemed vigneron should come to the hills of Montagnieu to pursue a passion. In my last email to Seiichi, I asked him about his future in the Alps. I haven't heard back yet, but I'm dying to know, and once you taste the wines from today's offer, you will be too! The stock below is all we can get... so grab what you can! David Hatzopoulos **Please note, the wines will be available at the store on 4/5/22**

Along with the Altesse vintages from Petit-Roy, I wanted to highlight the delicious 2020 vintage of Jacquère from Chignin produced by Denis & Didier Berthollier. My fiancée and I enjoyed (and finished) a bottle on Friday night... so clean and crisp, with awesome fruit and great swish. If we had two, we probably would have finished another... Enjoy! It's in stock and ready to pop!

No Longer Available

Petit-Roy (Seiichi Saito) 2018 VDF Altesse Bugey - Montagnieu

From organically grown Altesse on the slopes of Montagnieu in the Alpine region of Bugey. Soils are marl and limestone. This is Petit-Roy's only venture outside of Burgundy. Seiichi explained that the '18 was aged for 9 months in barrel and saw no filtration. He described it as a food wine, in a "natural" style. Its mineral and grassy on the nose. Aromas of crushed raw almonds, dried apricot, and lovely, earthy, wet clay add depth and stunning character to its bouquet. On the palate, orange pith, lemon peel, and white tea develop on day two - after stronger flavors of fresh citrus and crisp apple on day one. There is a candied sweetness on the finish that rests on the back of the tongue while the wine's determined-yet-balanced acidity persists around it. More rustic than the '19, more crunchy and gritty, but just as compelling. David Hatzopoulos

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $29.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur

Petit-Roy (Seiichi Saito) 2019 VDF Altesse Bugey - Montagnieu

From organically grown Altesse on the slopes of Montagnieu in the Alpine region of Bugey. Soils are marl and limestone. This is Petit-Roy's only venture outside of Burgundy. The '19 was aged for 12 months in barrel, and saw a light filtration. To Seiichi, this vintage is "refined and long." The 2019 is more savory on the nose, with a lace of elegant richness presenting a combo of warm herbal tones and attractively fragrant floral notes. Lime zest, mint, oyster shell and pear add to the wine's aromatic complexity. On the second night, a wispy, flinty smoke appears. The palate is spicy, with freshly ground white and black pepper, hints of pine, and sparky limestone dancing above flavors of orchard fruit and healthy, tart lemon. The '19 has more density on the tongue than the '18 and its finish displays just a touch of creaminess, cut with fresh acidity. David Hatzopoulos

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $37.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur

Denis & Didier Berthollier 2020 Chignin Jacquere Vieilles Vignes

From the hillsides of Chignin in the Combe de Savoie, this  Jacquère is made with 50 year old vines. The Berthollier brothers come from a long line of winemakers and we're proud to carry this lovely 2020 bottling. The color is bright yellow in the glass. On the nose, bright lemony fruit and spicy herbs are accented by pepper and salinity. A touch of peach blossom adds a delicate touch. The palate is zingy with limestone and tangy stone fruit. With air, the wine takes on exceptional weight, gaining a terrific swish. Outstandingly drinkable - be careful or you'll finish it all in one sitting! David Hatzopoulos

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $21.99

  • Organic