Saint Bris

Posted by admin | June 8, 2020 | Blog
St Bris

For every rule there’s an exception. Whether it’s “i before e except after c” or Oscar Wilde’s being able to ‘resist everything but temptation”, you’ll find interest and variety wherever there is an exception to a rule.

In the world of Burgundy wine, one of the great exceptions is found in the village of Saint-Bris-le-Vineux – the only place in Bourgogne where Sauvignon Blanc is grown. In a region where Pinot Noir and Chardonnay reign supreme, this exception is a particularly fascinating one. Maybe the origin of the Sauvignon tradition is Saint Bris’ proximity to Sancerre– the terroir of the zone being quite similar to much of the Eastern Loire– but Sauvignon de Saint-Bris has historically always held an important place in wine production in the Auxerrois..

Elden Selection’s relationship with Domaine Felix showcases some of the best examples of Sauvignon and the Saint Bris appellation. Herve Felix’s family have been winemakers in the area since 1692, so they know a bit about the grape.

First up, the Domaine Felix Saint Bris is fresh and lively, with notes of citrus and gooseberry. It has a bold attack and a vivacious mid-palate, fruity and herbaceous. Then there’s the Domaine Felix Saint Bris ‘Cuvee Sainte Claire’ which offers a slightly herbal hint of thyme. It’s biscuity too, yet still with the famous gooseberry. You get lime peel, pear and green apple, all underpinned by a smoky minerality. Elden Selections offers a fantastic value mixed case if you want to try both. 

And you should! It’s a fascinating opportunity to taste two totally different styles of Sauvignon Blanc.  It’s rare, anywhere in the world, for Sauvignon to go through malo-lactic fermentation. While Sauvignon expresses itself differently in every place that it is grown, afficianados love the lively, lemony gooseberry dimensions that consistently come through. And the Felix Saint Bris delivers.  But here, their ‘Cuvee Sainte Claire’ is a rare and wonderful look at Sauvignon that goes through full malo: richer, deeper, a homage to Burgundian winemaking.

Situated in the heart of the Auxerrois region, not far from Chablis, the village of Saint-Bris-le-Vineux sits atop a network of cellars and caverns, covering around three and a half hectares, and is well worth a visit as much for its historical significance as its viticulture.

The Sauvignon grape gives compact clusters with small and ovoid berries, a beautiful golden yellow when ripe, with thick film and melting pulp. Sauvignon is best drunk relatively young, unlike many other grapes. On this Burgundy terroir, it produces dry white wines, light, fresh and very pleasant. Sauvignon grapes grown in Burgundy soils can be very complex, a result of the various underlying Jurassic limestone ridges. 

The St Bris appellation was established relatively recently in 2003 and covers wines made from both Sauvignon Blanc and Gris, and grown in the communes of Saint-Bris-le-Vineux, Chitry, Irancy, Vincelottes, and Quenne, over around 130 hectares of the most perfect terroir and climate

Saint Bris is a small but perfectly formed AOC; one which produces wines for the connoisseur – one who can’t resist temptation, and who loves the exception that proves the rule. 

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