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

Seeing Green in Saint Romain: Henri et Gilles Buisson

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

 

Buisson, Henri & Gilles 2012 St. Romain Blanc Sous la Velle

Sous Velle, comprised of limestone, clay, and marls produces Chardonnay which is vibrant and fairly muscular. (It is also home to a beautiful wild cherry tree whose blossoms perfume the air should you be lucky enough visit in the spring when it blooms.) The 2012 vintage is floral, yellow-fruited and a hint leesy on the nose with hints of nectarine and pear skin. On the palate the wine is amalgam of ripe pear, fine acids, zesty acidity, and has a savory sense of minerality. There's great energy here with a pungent core of stoniness beneath the fruit. Really fun to drink now with a roasted chicken or baked halibut, this should knit further with a couple years in the bottle and pair beautifully with a washed-rind cheese such as Epoisses or Grayson. John McIlwain

  • white
  • 23 in stock
  • $42.99

  • Organic

Buisson , Henri & Gilles 2012 St. Romain Blanc Absolu Sans-Soufre

The Buisson family is constantly experimenting in the vineyard and the cellar, pushing ever closer towards the goal of not using any chemicals or additives (pesticides, herbicides, sulfur, etc.) during any part of the winemaking process. Obtaining organic certification by ECOCERT in 2009 was a big step in the right direction, and their addition of the two Absolu cuvées to their current lineup of wines is a marked commitment to their efforts. The Absolu Saint-Romain Blanc is vinified the same way as their other cuvées but forgoes the addition of sulfur at bottling. This truly adds another dimension to an already thoughtful and delicious wine giving it an energy and texture that only comes from naturally made wines. Vivid fruit and nut aromas mingle with a delicate spiciness on the nose and the palate is sharp, a touch salty, and very fresh. It’s not often you are able to taste a sulfured wine alongside its sans soufre companion so that makes for a fantastic experiment! Tim Gagnon

  • white
  • 23 in stock
  • $52.99

  • Organic
  • No Sulfur

Buisson, Henri & Gilles 2011 St. Romain Rouge Sous la Roche

Working towards organics since the 1970s and certified since 2009, Domaine Henri & Gilles Buisson produces lovely wines from their home village of Saint Romain and beyond. The 2011 Sous la Roche Rouge comes from densely planted 50-year-old vines on the eastern flank of the south-facing amphitheater of vineyards above the town. The soils on this high elevation, steep parcel are a mix of marls and limestone better suited for Pinot Noir than the Sous la Velle parcel opposite. The 2011 is has the prettiness of the cool vintage, without the herbal quality of some of the other wines. The nose is a mix of fresh raspberry, pepper, and brambles while the palate displays more red fruit, black tea, smoke and earth notes. There's good energy without a sense of over-extraction. This is vibrant without the rusticity often associated with the appellation. Enjoy this now and over the next 3-5 years. John McIlwain

  • red
  • 34 in stock
  • $31.99

  • Organic

Buisson , Henri & Gilles 2012 St. Romain Rouge Absolu Sans-Soufre

With the same idea of creating chemical-free wines, the Buisson family crafts this delicious Saint-Romain Rouge the same way as they make their Sous La Roche cuvée. It is hand-harvested from 50-year-old vines, 90% destemmed, and is allowed to ferment naturally before being aged for twelve months in neutral oak barrels. No sulfur is added at any time during the winemaking process which yields an elegant, yet rustic wine that begs to be placed on your dinner table. It is rife with wild red berries and smoky spice on the nose that alludes to the berry fruits found on the palate. It has wonderful tension and structure suggesting that it’s capable of short term aging, maybe 3-5 years, but it is beautiful now. Tim Gagnon

  • red
  • 29 in stock
  • $49.99

  • Organic
  • No Sulfur
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