Saint Bris le Vineux (map) is located in Auxerrois, in northwestern Burgundy , the part of Burgundy closest from Paris . This small wine region with old roots lies in the shadow of the Chablis area , which is very close ( Chablis proper is located 15 km northeast ) . To reach Saint Bris , you can take the N 6 highway to Auxerre , a very nice road along the Yonne river and drive further south along the Cure river . About 3 km south of Auxerre , take left on road D956 and you reach the village . Its name says a lot about its roots : "vineux" means winy.
Vineyards are said to exist in this area as early as in the 12th century, mainly to produce white wines . Replanting in the 1920's was centered on mostly white varieties, Sauvignon, Aligoté, Sacy and Chardonnay.
We visit Domaine Ghislaine and Jean-Hugues Goisot, managed by passionate winemakers who devote their energy to gain recognition for the Saint Bris wines and its specific grape variety , the Saint Bris Sauvignon . Mrs Goisot receives us and leads us down the steep hard stone stairs to the vaulted cellars under the house , to go taste the wines . The old stone stairs are a first wonder . They have witnessed centuries of casks being pulled up and down to the cellar . The central notch on each step is where the rope was inserted, so as not to be stuck or damaged under the cask in the operation. See the picture on the left, same patina than on church front steps...
Then we get to the cellar, in fact a succession of dimly-lit vaulted cellars filled with casks and where the temperature is quite cool . The tasting room is in one of the cellars . The whole cellar, which seems unchanged since that time, except for the electricity, dates from the 14th century. Monks were making wine in the area between the 11th and the 14th century in the region, with bases ( abbeys ) in Citeaux, Saint Germain, Pontigny.
Jean-Hugues Goisot himself has 7 generations of vintners behind him, that he can clearly trace in documents . There was a time when a much bigger wine production came out of this area : Before the phyloxera, the Yonne departement had 40 000 hectares of producing vineyards. Today, Chablis, which has on its Appellation area most of Yonne's vineyards, has 3600 hectares of vineyard surface.
The Saint Bris area had at some point, after the phyloxera debacle, thousands of cherry trees planted where the vineyards once stood. Now a reverse trend is happening and new vineyards are planted back .
Mrs Goisot explains us that the Saint Bris terroir was left in the dark somehow when the Appellation system was put in place and when the INAO chose the different districts deemed ggod enough to be selected . But in recent years in Saint Bris, and particularly at Goisot, they took upon themselves to build anew and, slowly but surely, worked to improve quality with self imposed rules, and to gain recognition of their terroir. The goal being to convince the INAO to consider a separate appellation for Saint Bris ( which lies today in the generic Burgundy Appellation ) .
This was not easy, a sort of uphill battle with uncertain results. The difficulty was to have the other estates work in the same direction, and also limit the yields to 40-45 ho/hectare. In spite of similarities between Saint Bris valley and Chablis, Saint Bris has differences, of which the geological composition of the soil. Here the soil has more limestone and chalk. Succumbing to the attractive power of the nearby star-region, most Saint Bris owners used to buy vineyards in the Chablis area when they could . Here at Goisot they kept investing on St Bris only, with the goal to concentrate their efforts on the beautiful potential of this terroir.
Today, Domaine Goisot owns 27 hectares : Sauvignon Blanc , Sauvignon Fié Gris , Chardonnay , Pinot Noir and a few rows of Cesar , a marginal grape variety.
Vineyards are planted at a 10 000 vines/hectare ratio now on Goisot. This is rather high when elsewhere around here, it is usually a maximum of 8500/hectare. But Before the phyloxera, it was commonly 14 000/hectare around here. Wine authorities will be convinced by the results on the wine itself that this choice was good, the Goisots think . Work in the vineyard is important at Goisot . Scraping makes roots go as deep as 5 to 10 meters down . In other vineyards were no such work is done, you see sometimes roots showing at the surface between the rows . Not very good for the wine as these roots sip all the rain and flowing water . No fertilizers , no weed-killers , no insecticides here .
__1 Red : Bourgogne Cotes d'Auxerre "Corps de Garde" 2002 . Pinot Noir . Very nice Pinot Noir . Another northern red at his best . She says best would be to begin drink it in 2006, when it will begin to open , and that it can wait till 2012-2015 . I'm already seduced by what I have in the mouth today . I'll buy 6 . Prices of the different wines here at Goisot is between 5 and 10 Euro.
__2 White : Bourgogne Aligoté 2003 . A little "gras" and spicy.
__3 White : Bourgogne Cotes d'Auxerre "Corps de Garde" 2002 . Chardonnay . Powerful aromas . More than 30-year-old vines. Wine not fully opened yet , she says . Needs more time .
__4 White : Bourgogne cotes d'Auxerre "Biaumont" Chardonnay 2002 . Biaumont is the name of a "climat" . A "climat", in Burgundy, is a vineyard spot with specific orientation and soil . Biaumont has a
southeast orientation and whole shells in the soil. Gras in the mouth, intense . Still a year or two to have a pleasure wine.
__5 White : Bourgogne Cotes d'Auxerre "Gordonne" Chardonnay .This "climat" is a south oriented spot with small pieces of broken shells in the soil . Brings a very different Chardonnay wine . Like the others , very clear white wine. Mineral nose . More saline . Les "gras" and more straight than Biaumont.
__6 White : Saint Bris 2003 Sauvignon Blanc . Saint Bris Appellation has been obtained for Sauvignon.
__7 White : Saint Bris 2003 Corps de Garde "Fié Gris" . At goisot they have a passion for history and have discovered that this old grape variety had a long presence in the area . Other than here , it only existed in the Loire valley . We said that we had ourselves discovered it at Jacky Preys in the Valencay area . They presented the idea to INAO, about reintroducing the Fié Gris, and had the authorization to give it a try ( authorization being needed as it was labelled as Saint Bris ). With time , they feel that this grape variety is even more noble than the Sauvignon Blanc . It allows a long evolution of the wine in the cellar, wich is a change from the Sauvignon Blanc . The wine : Flowers, fruits , exotic fruits, plus the terroir imprint . Rare to have it all . Very clear wine . Very refined .
Exported . Phone : +33 (0)3 86 53 35 15 . email : firstname.lastname@example.org Among the importers , Garnet Wine & Liquors ( NY, NY ) .