Seeing Green in Saint Romain: Henri et Gilles Buisson

6/27/15 -

(Bottling their wines since 1947 and farming organically since the 1970s, Henri et Gilles Buisson represents the new old school.)

When you drive south from Beaune, the famous red wine vineyards of Pommard and Volnay stretch out on the slope to your right, while to the left you’ll find famed white wine communes of Meursault, Chassagne-Montrachet, and Puligny-Montrachet -- it’s quite a tableau. But when you make the turn for Auxey-Duresses, things take on a more rural cast, with forests beyond the vines on both sides of the village. From here, one leaves the main road and heads to a wilder patch of Burgundy. Up a winding road in a somewhat narrow valley you will find the village of Saint Romain. Situated high above the Côte de Beaune vineyards, the commune produces quality Burgundy, though decidedly racier and somewhat humbler in profile.

One of the domains farming these cooler high altitude vineyards is Henri & Gilles Buisson. The Buisson family has been in the valley since the 12th century and began bottling their wines under their own name in 1947. Since the 1970s son Gilles has farmed the vines more or less organically, with grandsons Franck and Frédérick building on his work and gaining Ecocert certification in 2009.


The vineyards are beautiful and the wines follow suit. The selections presented today are from two parcels in a south-facing amphitheater-shaped vineyard above the village. Sous Roche (pictured above), the steeper lieu-dit located on the eastern shoulder of the valley, is densely planted to Pinot Noir with vines averaging 50-years-old. The soils are limestone and marls, while the southwest-facing aspect encourages early flowering. Opposite on the western flank of the vineyard is the Sous la Velles lieu-dit (pictured below), planted entirely to Chardonnay with vines also averaging 50 years of age. Here there is more clay mixed in with the limestone and marls making for a punchy, almost muscular style of white Burgundy.


As rigorous as the farming is, the wine-making is decidedly hands-off. After sorting the grapes twice, there is partial stem inclusion, and fermentations commence with native yeasts. Malolactic fermentation is natural and long, elevage takes place over ten months, and only a touch of new oak is employed – thus, the wines have precision and energy.


We are also pleased to present the regular bottling and no-sulfur Absolu bottling from each vineyard side-by-side, making this is a rare opportunity to taste the difference that sulfur makes in wines from the same producer and vineyard. When visiting Buisson in April, we tasted back vintages of the Absolu and the wines were mineral, incisive, and had aged well despite the absence of sulfur. Though since the weather is a bit torrid at the moment, please note we would advocate for fall-shipping for these sans-soufre bottlings. John McIlwain

You have successfully subscribed!
This email has been registered