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From a viticultural standpoint, Santenay can be somewhat unforgiving. Along with its little sibling Maranges, Santenay sits at the very south end of the Cote de Beaune where the hills start to bend west and open up. The resulting wind-swept valley has always been colder and later-ripening than their northern neighbors and so in tough vintages the wines could be stingy. Additionally, the hill is high and steep and the vineyards have thin rocky topsoil that is difficult to work. But as a result of these challenges, the wines have always been affordable. Furthermore, there is a transparency in Santenay, even in warm vintages. I learned a lot about the ideas of minerality and vineyard character that are so key to understanding Burgundy by drinking Santenay early in my career. Today, I'm very excited to present the 2019 vintage from Domaine David Moreau as an example of top-class Santenay at a reasonable price.
David Moreau is a second-generation grower in the heart of the village. His grandfather created Domaine Jean Moreau in the 1960s and ran the estate into his eighties, until his grandson was ready to join him (David's father had never had any interest in winegrowing). After the customary stint at the Lycee Viticole in Beaune and an oenology degree in Dijon, he completed internships with three absolutely top-flight estates in France: Hubert Lamy in Saint Aubin, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti in Vosne and Chateau de Beaucastel in Chateauneuf-du-Pape. He followed these up with an additional stage at Neudorf in New Zealand, at which point he joined his grandfather in Santenay.
Today he farms nine hectares, most of it red, spread across Santenay with a bit of Meursault and Maranges. The estate is farming organically (uncertified). The vineyards are filled with vibrant diverse cover crops and then tilled or untilled depending on the natural vigor of the parcel and the vines. In the cellar, the wines are fermented using only indigenous yeasts and the wines are aged with a minimum of new oak, ranging from ten to thirty percent depending on the cuvée.
The overall impression I had of these wines when I tasted through recently was one of deep respect for vineyard expression. These wines feel exceptionally pure. It also didn't hurt that these are from the fairly incredible 2019 vintage. I've talked about '19s extensively in previous emails but the short version is that the wines combine incredible full red Pinot fruit with a great deal of acidity. Rarely have I come across young Burgundies wines that are this much fun. David's wines are no exception. These are juicy delicious wines and distinctly Santenay. Particularly at the Premier Cru level, there is a chalky dusty quality that warms my heart.
I hope that you will take advantage today, for these wines will not only be terrific this fall as the temperature continues to drop but will reward patient drinkers who put aside a few bottles for the years ahead.
**THIS IS A PRE-ARRIVAL OFFER. WINES WILL BE AVAILABLE NEXT WEEK!**
From 45 year old vines just opposite Santenay, on marl and limestone. This is an excellent Bourgogne, the fruit a piercing bright red (cherry and raspberry) and that pinpoint acidity that makes 2019 so distinct. It's got real weight and presence and can easily stand up to village wines that cost thirty percent more. Sam Ehrlich
This is the first of two absolutely brilliant village wines. Cuvée S is a tribute to David's mother Simone. It comes from two parcels both planted in the mid-1960s in rocky alluvial soils. This is a really lovely wine, lifted and airy in texture, with a touch of spice to add complexity. Great energy here - this is excellent. Sam Ehrlich
Les Hâtes is considered a distinguished village-level parcel (Moreau's fomer mentor Olivier Lamy also vinifies this and bottles it) and tasting this one can see why. There is buoyant red berry fruit, with floral accents and a dusty mineral edge, all wrapped around a great spine of acidity. Outstanding value and will age well to boot. Sam Ehrlich
From 35 year old vines, planted in red clay over limestone, this is classic sturdy Santenay, with spicy red fruit and a meaty savory note that cries out for medium rare beef and gratin Dauphinois. There is plenty of structure here to allow for upwards of ten years' improvement in the cellar but that shouldn't dissuade you from opening one now. This is a terrific wine to have on hand as we watch the thermometer fall. Sam Ehrlich
Though not to be confused with the famed Beaune 1er Cru Clos des Mouches, this is no less deserving of attention and much less expensive! The vines were planted in the mid-1960s after being abandoned completely in the wak of phylloxera. There is little top soil here, hard fractured limestone underneath and great exposure that keeps the site well-aerated and dry. This is velvety and understated, with cool stony mineral notes and fantastic length. Another tremendous value. Sam Ehrlich
Though not to be confused with the famed Beaune 1er Cru Clos des Mouches, this is no less deserving of attention and much less expensive! The vines were planted in the mid-1960s after being abandoned completely in the wak of phylloxera. There is little top soil here, hard fractured limestone underneath and great exposure that keeps the site well-aerated and dry. This is velvety and understated, with cool stony mineral notes and fantastic length. Another tremendous value.