The exhilarating 2021 whites (and a red) from Domaine Henri & Gilles Buisson

6/6/23 -

We have officially fallen in love with Burgundy wines from the excitingly lean and "old-school" 2021 vintage. You can look up why the vintage is considered so special, but the general theme is cooler weather than 2017, 18, 19 and 20, and a throw back to light, balanced, and low-alcohol Pinots and Chardonnays of yore. We should add that the wines are singing! Ageworthy? Indeed they should improve and we are quite certain '21 will go down in history as one of the very best vintages of the recent past, especially if you ask the winemakers (sometimes reviewers go for the big vintages, but time will show how special 2021s are!), but boy are they drinking beautifully right now! 

A fine example of the balance and beauty of the 2021 vintage would be the wines from Domaine Henri & Gilles Buisson in St. Romain. We recently tasted a line-up of whites and were quietly blown away by the precision and mineral length of their cuvées. I would personally be happy to drink a bottle daily if I had the funds, but even then I would be limited to perhaps the end of the year due to the short supply of 2021s! 

Right this way!

The Buissons have been ensconced in St. Romain for hundreds of years but the domaine dates back to just after the Second World War. Farmed organically by their father starting in the 1970s, today they hold EcoCert certification - no small feat in a hamlet as cold and tucked away as this. They have just shy of twenty hectares today and produce a range of St. Romains as definitive as one is likely to find. St. Romain itself sits high in the hills just to the west of Meursault. The appellation has traditionally been considered second-tier terroir due to both its isolation and the fact that the cooler clime meant later ripening vines and wines that could feel thin or austere. But in the era of climate change and rising temperatures, St. Romain is experiencing a renaissance. 

Today we are offering three single-vineyard 2021 whites that we tasted with our friend Tobias from Rosenthal Wine Merchant, along with a 2020 red. Though we didn't have a chance to taste the red, I asked about it, referencing my experience of reds from '20 (generally hit or miss for reds in my opinion, but the hits are delicious!). I got the sense that the profile was relatively full and dark-fruited, with more black cherry than strawberry, consistent with many 2020 reds I've had. Given the climate in St. Romain, there is also balance with the red, so it's overall concentrated but not too big. I'll certainly be grabbing a bottle and perhaps more after that! The whites are intensely mineral, and with terrific acidity and structure that should allow for 5-10 years of improvement in the cellar. You may find it difficult not drinking them now though - these are truly delicious wines!

-Eben Lillie (with borrowed text from CSW alumni Sam Ehrlich and John McIwain)

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