Capitain-Gagnerot Saint Romain 'Au Bas de Poillange' 2011
This parcel of Saint Romain ‘Au Bas de Poillange’ is relatively new to the Maison Capitain, and it has become the pet project of Patrice’s son, Pierre-Francois, who works it with strict organic methods. What’s most interesting is that the Capitains know well the minerality of the Corton Mountain. But this Saint Romain is something new, something all its own. Floral with racy stony freshness, and a crisp acidity over density, this is a lovely wine. It’s a tiny production of about 3000 bottles a year.
Anybody who has followed us since our start in early 1996 knows the Maison Capitain-Gagnerot in Ladoix-Serrigny. We have seen three generation now. Roger Capitain was our first mentor in Burgundy, and we learned our craft leaning against a wine barrel, soaking up his wisdom and discussing his inimitable wines. His sons Patrice and Michel, and now Patrice's son Pierre Francois (the whole family, really), carry on a tradition that is most easily described as a style. There is no mistaking a Capitain wine. Once you know it, you can pick one out just in the bouquet. It's a purity. And it's our benchmark in Burgundy.
COTE DE BEAUNE
Saint Romain stands at the foot of an impressive rock outcrop, with a magnificent view out over the Saone River valley and across the vineyards below. Because of this commanding position, there have been settlements on this spot since early pre-historic times. And so some of the earliest plantations of vines were in this protected narrow valley, just off-line from the main escarpment of the Côte d’Or to the west of Auxey-Duresses. Above and beyond the village are vineyards classified Hautes Côtes de Beaune. Appellation Saint Romain can be either white or red, and the grapes are the traditional Burgundian Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Produced in the commune of Saint Romain, the appellation Saint Romain has no premiers or grands crus. However, many wines mention the name of the single-vineyard (climat) from which they originate.
There are several distinct soil zones in the valley leading up to the village of Saint Romain. Coming up the valley from Auxey-Duresses, vines on the left are apt to be Pinot Noir. On the right in a south-facing amphitheater, you find the majority of the village vineyards. And here there is a distinct difference in soil make up, with the hills flanking to the left being better for Chardonnay. Traditionally, Saint Romain was white, but producers have found parcels that work well for Pinot, so that today white accounts for about 55% of the production.
Chardonnay benefits from a rich vein of limestone here (calcaire actif) that gives Saint Romain whites a distinctive freshness in their minerality. Lemony notes are frequently lime tinted. And white floral notes are common.
Pinot Noir shows itself as ruby red in youth with red fruit notes of raspberry and cherry. These wines drink well young, especially in riper years, with forward fruit and spicy mineral notes. They have aging potential up to 10 years.
Notably higher (at between 350-410 meters) and cooler than the rest of the Cote d’Or, these vineyards have the potential to produce a style of Burgundy all their own. With a very interesting mix of geologic strata based on lias from the earliest Jurassic period, we get swirls of limestone and marl, notably calcaire actif that is particularly interesting for Chardonnay and produces a specific minerality completely different from other zones of white Burgundy production.
Red wines - Pinot Noir
White wines - Chardonnay
Production surface area
1 hectare (ha) = 2.4 acres
Reds: 39.22 ha
Whites: 57.03 ha
The freshness in the minerality of Saint Romain white makes it a perfect aperitif wine. But it also lends itself to preparations similar to those you choose for Chablis. Escargot, goat cheese, shellfish in general and oysters in particular. Saint Romain reds can be elegant and velvety, but are often most appreciated for the lustiness of youth. Perfumed and spicy, it goes well with white meats and veal, and roasted birds.
The following are village climats:
- Au Bas de Poillange
- Combe Bazin
- En Chevrot
- En Gollot
- En Poillange
- La Croix Neuve
- La Périère
- Le Dos d'Ane
- Le Jarron
- Le Marsain
- Le Village Bas
- Le Village Haut
- Sous la Velle
- Sous le Château
- Sous Roche
2011 is notable not just because it was an early harvest, but because of its wacky weather. While the East Coast of the US was sweltering in 100°+ at the end of July, Burgundians were wearing sweaters wondering what the heck was happening. We'd just been through a couple of weeks of way-too- much rain and sub-70° temperatures that had followed three months of no rain and the sort of heat you would expect in August. It was an early spring jump-start for the vines, which flowered precociously. First calculations had the harvest beginning in the latter half of August. Bountiful fruit set beautifully, with just a touch of millerandage to give the grapes space to grow and keep the bunches well aerated. At that point, there was no risk of mildew, and treatments could be kept to a minimum. Aside from cursing the expected early harvest (meaning, no vacation this year), the growers were thrilled. But as the rain continued into August, followed by a worrying stormy period, suddenly everyone was looking at the sky. No one was worried...not yet. But we really needed some sun soon. The harvest projection got pushed into early September. But even early September is early. So a lot of intuition went into determining the date of the harvest: to wait or not to wait? This was the question that all of Burgundy was asking in the last weeks of August. The harvest was ultimately spread out across several weeks, with parcels harvested as they came to maturity. Sunshine and dry conditions in September rewarded those who were patient.
The whites have aromatic purity, with clear, frank aromas of citrus fruits and delicate floral notes. A good level of acidity makes the wines fresh and expressive. Good balance, pleasant roundness, and a notable expression of terroir. Maturity will bring complexity to these wines, but they are enjoyable young.
These are seductive wines with a intense color. There is a broad range of aromas: fresh red fruits with soft, spicy notes. Good balance with round supple tannins. The potential for laying down the wine will vary depending on the appellation and the producer. However, this is a very pleasant and charming vintage which will be enjoyable young.