The Côte Mâconnais is the southern part of Burgundy. Although the generic Burgundy appelations stretch out as far as Lyon going further down, let us be honest here. The bulk of Burgundian wines that everyone is interested in and talking about is made above Beaujolais. Hopefully attentive readers will recall that I had high praise for Beaujolais in the past. I believe that gamay-based wines can be too good and especially too unique and atypical to be simply pooled under the Burgundy–umbrella.
There actually is no clear border between the south of the Côte Mâconnais and Beaujolais. White wines made in the upper part of the Beaujolais, around Saint-Amour for example, are eligible for either the Beaujolais appellation or one of the white Burgundy ones located in the Côte Mâconnais. More often than not estates will prefer selling their white production as Saint-Veran, seeing as the overall reputation of Beaujolais is shoddy at best.
Saint-Véran is therefore an odd appellation. Whereas Burgundy is considered a patchwork of terroir, it is actually quite structured when it comes to the main appelations themselves with little overlap. Saint-Véran covers a lot of ground. When standing on the Roche de Vergisson it is difficult to see where the difference lies exactly. There is of course a gap between a Saint-Véran produced around Saint-Amour and one produced around Vergisson, but it is a lot less clear when comparing the latter with Pouilly-Fuissé for instance. It is this wide variety that leads to the impression of quality gaps within the same appellation and the subsequently reduced love for Saint-Véran with the general public. It’s a bit of a shame except for someone like me who likes to spend ridiculous amounts of time and effort in discovering something neat!
Domaine de la Croix Senaillet is one of these estates that does not seem like anything special at first, but after tasting through a couple of their wines recently I was surprised by the distinctiveness that they displayed with regards to their terroir. The two brothers who run the estate own about 30 different plots in the Côte Mâconnais but are at their best in Saint-Véran.
The wine to present today is Sur la Carrière 2012. Grown near an old quarry, you can expect a lot of chalk in the soil. This is immediately present on the nose, rich citrus with a certain lightness to it. It starts of slightly lingering on the same type of fruit, a bit riper maybe but on the palate the élevage in new oak kicks in and you get a more creamy sensation, honeyed fruit, breadth with a clear touch of minerality to the finish. It ends maybe a bit closed but it remains light, grounded in its flavour but sufficiently delicate. I think that this is a good example of what Saint-Véran can be, delicate freshness and minerality you would expect around Pouilly-Fuissé but more structured on fruit and richness, a neat wine!
Other Burgundy wines talked about: