November 16, 2013
Savigny Les Beaune
Savigny-les-Beaune is a large village in the Cote de Beaune sub-region of Burgundy, tucked away in a valley a few kilometers off the main highway north of Beaune. The name of the area has been altered throughout history, with the name Savigny les Beaune taking preference in the mid 1800’s. The last part of the name reflects the village’s location, just a short distance away from the town of Beaune. Not only is this slightly obscure village home to some brilliant terroirs at the villages and premier cru level, it also one of the region’s more prolific appellations, producing more wine annually than most in Burgundy.
The village of Savigny-lès-Beaune is stretched out along the small river Rhoin. Thanks to this little stream, that starts further up the valley in Bouilland, Savigny is greener than most of the other villages along the Côte d’Or. The valley created by the Rhoins provides large swathes of south-facing slopes on which to plant quality vineyards, a key component in Savigny’s large production. As it drops gently down to the east, the valley opens out onto the plain below, where there are many more acres of excellent viticultural land. There are 22 different 1er crus in Savigny, the most important of which brilliantly capture the site specific differences in characters. The wines of these vineyards are designated Savigny-lès-Beaune Premier Cru + vineyard name, or may labelled just Savigny-lès-Beaune Premier Cru, allowing the possiblity to blend wine from several Premier Cru vineyards within the AOC. Closest to the village itself are the premiers crus Les Guettes and Les Gravains, both south-facing and occupying different parts of the same slope. While the southern exposure virtually ensures good ripeness, the stony limestone soils prevent the wines from being overly rich. Across the small valley are situated Les Narbantons, just upslope from which lies La Dominode (actually part of Les Jarrons), and Les Peuillets. Although essentially contiguous, these vineyards vary markedly in soil composition and structure, with the well-drained, stony soils of Peuillets producing tauter, more sinewy wines than the dense, black-fruited examples originating from Dominode and Narbantons.
Almost all Savigny-les-Beaune wines are red, produced from Pinot Noir, with white wine taking up less than 10% of land and production. Traditionally, Savigny was known to produce a light and delicate red wine. They are similar in style to the red wines of Beaune yet, because the real estate lacks the fame of other Burgundy appellations, the wines themselves represent great value from the area. The better Savigny rouges, particularly the premier crus, can be extremely complex, and they can age and improve for years. Traditionally, many Savigny wineries also sold off their production in bulk to negociants. Today, most have adapted modern production techniques and raised the stature of Savigny’s wines. The reds have gained weight, in keeping with contemporary tastes, and more thought and care has gone into their production than ever before. Among a few great producers at the forefront of this movement is Domaine Pavelot.
Domaine Jean-Marc et Hugues Pavelot
Of all of the growers in Savigny, there are but a few that are considered among its elite; one of the first always mentioned is Jean Marc and his son Hugues of Domaine Pavelot. Of the nearly 180 producers who make and bottle wines from this area, the estate of Jean-Marc et Hugues Pavelot has earned fame as one of the finest in the village. Routinely worthy of accolades reserved for wines costing twice to three times what Savigny-les-Beaunes fetch, the wines of Pavelot are, according to Burghound’s Allen Meadows, “wines worth a serious look each and every vintage… and absolutely worth your attention”.
There have been Pavelots in Savigny for many generations, the domaine traditionally moving from father to son, and that tradition has continued. Hugues, the 4th generation at Pavelot, maintains the domaine today, taking over from his father Jean-Marc in recent years. Though he studied and worked in Beaune and Australia, Hugues maintains that his most important ‘school’ was his father Jean-Marc. Hugues, with plenty of help from his father, has maintained Domaine Pavelot’s stature as their wines continue to tower above their neighbors. These are known as pure, concentrated, fruit-driven wines with enticing sweetness and excellent balance. The premier crus reflect the respective characteristics of each vineyard, and are proven to be long lived every vintage.
The domaine has impressive holdings: eight plots of premier cru Savigny-les-Beaune, three of which are in the famed valley of Bouilland. For a long time, the main outlet for the Pavelots was the negociants of Beaune, even 15 years ago as much as 25% of their product left by this route. Today all stays within the domaine, ensuring outstanding wines from their pristine, old-vine vineyard parcels through a practice known as lutte raisonnee. Essentially a practice incorporating the most practical applications found in both biodynamic and traditional vineyard management, lutte raisonnee allows the flexibility to control vineyard abnormalities while avoiding undue applications to one’s soil. The emphasis at Domaine Pavelot is the work in the vineyard right from harvest to reduce yields from their various vineyards. Grapes are harvested manually and go through 5 days of cold maceration before traditional fermentation. They are not completely dogmatic in their approach, and should a wine need filtering or fining then it will be done. Through this practice, the Pavelot’s have consistently fashioned the most sought after, high-scoring, terroir-driven wines of the appellation. The father and son team of Jean-Marc and Hugues ensure a future of outstanding wines that have, in Robert Parker’s words, “for more than two decades been a source for fascinating, affordable, ageworthy reds”.
Domaine Pavelot Savigny Les Beaune 2010 ($44.95) $24 super special 10+ cases available
Burghound 88 points “Here the fruit is ripe though distinctly different as the Savigny style earth character is quite prominent on the somber dark pinot fruit nose. There is a velvety texture to the supple and relatively forward flavors that possess good concentration and fine balance on the sappy finish. This isn’t an especially elegant effort but it is certainly delicious and satisfying.”
Domaine Pavelot Savigny Les Beaune 2009 ($39.95) $27 special 4 cases available
Burghound 88 points “This is also aromatically quite pretty with ripe red berry and plum aromas liberally laced with ample amounts of Savigny-style earth that continues onto the round, supple and appealing flavors that culminate in a balanced and naturally sweet finish. Lovely and fashioned in Pavelot’s usual understated style. Drink: 2014+.”
Domaine Pavelot Savigny Narbantons 2010 ($64.95) $49 special 8 bottles available
Burghound 92 points “A admirably pure and well-layered nose of plum, black cherry and Savigny style earth merges into very rich and round flavors that possess excellent volume and plenty of mouth coating extract. The moderately firm tannins are well-integrated and there is so much concentration that this beautifully complex effort will drink well young or benefit from up to a decade of cellar time.”
Domaine Pavelot Savigny Peuillets 2010 ($59.95) $44 special 3+ cases available
Burghound 90 points “A more elegant and slightly fresher nose features a pretty mix of red berries along with hints of violet and plum. There is also more of a mineral character to the appealingly detailed, complex and delicious flavors that are shaped by more refined tannins while offering fine length. A classic Peuillets of finesse.”
Domaine Pavelot Savigny Serpentiers 2010 ($59.95) $44 special 11 bottles available
Burghound 90 points “The fruit is much darker compared to the nose of the Peuillets, with a somber mix of earth and sauvage hints added to the plum and cassis aromas. There is a subtle touch of minerality to the firm, mouth coating and plumy medium-bodied flavors that possess plenty of mouth coating extract before culminating in an energetic, focused and lingering finish. This is perhaps just a hair less elegant then I typically find it though by contrast it is indisputably more powerful.”
Other Savigny Les Beaunes Available Now
Bize Savigny les Beaune Bourgeots 2010 ($49.95) $39 special 2 cases available
Bize Savigny les Beaune Les Marconnets 2010 ($64.95) $49 special 13 bottles available
Bize Savigny Les Beaune Talmettes 2010 ($59.95) $49 special 2 cases available
Burghound 89-92 points “Here the nose is quite similar to that of the Serpentières with its violets and lavender scents that combine with notable earth and underbrush-infused red berry fruit aromas. There is good richness, size and weight to the round yet relatively refined medium-bodied flavors that possess a fine sense of balance on the mouth coating finish. I like the mouth feel and if this moderately structured effort can develop more depth in bottle, it just might catch the Fourneaux in time.”
Chandon Briailles Savigny les Beaune 2007 ($39.95) $31.90 special 5 bottles available
Burghound Notes “An extremely pretty, indeed unusually so for a Savigny villages, nose of earthy red berry fruit and a hint of spice leads to round yet detailed barely middle weight flavors that possess a mildly edgy but persistent finish. A delicious and relatively forward effort.”
Chandon Briailles Savigny les Beaune 2010 ($39.95) $34.50 special 20 bottles available
Burghound 87-89 points “A deeply pitched nose of Savigny-style earth, floral notes and fresh dark berry fruit aromas precedes the clean, fresh and vibrant middle weight flavors that are shaped by rustic but ripe tannins that are well-integrated on the tension-filled finish. This isn’t particularly refined but it’s solidly complex and well-balanced.”
Chandon Briailles Savigny Les Beaune Forneaux 2010 ($44.95) $36 special 22 bottles available
John Gilman 91+ points “In 2010, the Chandon de Briailles Fourneaux was destemmed seventy percent. This is a really lovely example of the vintage, bursting from the glass in a red fruity mélange of cherries, currants, blood orange, a lovely base of complex soil tones, coffee and a nice topnote of spice. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and very pure on the attack, with lovely transparency, a fine core of fruit, moderate tannins and lovely length and grip on the complex and beautifully balanced finish. Fine juice.”
D’Ardhuy Savigny Les Beaune Aux Clos 2010 ($37.95) $28 special 15 bottles available
D’Ardhuy Savigny Les Beaune Narbantons 2010 ($44.95) $36 special 2 cases available
D’Ardhuy Savigny Les Beaune Peuillets 2010 ($39.95) $29 special 2+ cases available
Francois Gay Savigny les Beaune Serpentiers 2010 ($49.95) $39 special 7 bottles available
Roche de Bellene Savigny les Beaune Vielles Vignes 2009 ($29.95) $24 special 12 bottles available
Guillemot Savigny les Beaune Les Jarrons 2010 ($35.95) $33 special 11 bottles available
Guillemot Savigny les Beaune Grands Picotins 2010 ($34.95) $28 special 12 bottles available
Jadot Savigny les Beaune 2009 ($39.95) $24 special 7 bottles available
Jadot Savigny les Beaune Les Lavieres 2009 ($39.95) $29 special 26 bottles available
Jadot Savigny les Beaune Les Vergelesses 2009 ($39.95) $29 special 18 bottles available
Jadot Savigny les Beaune Clos Guettes Blanc 2010 ($44.95) $36 special 3 bottles available
Wine Advocate 92 points “I am deeply impressed with the 2010 Savigny-Les-Beaune Clos des Guettes. It boasts tons of minerality and a cool, precise personality that begs for a few years of cellaring. There is more than enough fruit to balance the crystalline, saline notes in this highly expressive, packed white. I can’t wait to see how this ages. Anticipated maturity: 2014+.”
Jadot Savigny les Beaune Clos Guettes Blanc 2011 ($41.95) $33 special 2 cases available
John Gilman 90 points “The 2011 Clos des Guettes blanc is again a very pretty wine, with that telltale touch of pastry cream on both the nose and palate that indicates the malo was partially blocked here. The stylish and inviting bouquet is a lovely mélange of apple, orange, crème patissière, stony minerality and a touch of vanillin oak. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, complex and quite driven by its underlying minerality, with snappy acids and very fine length and grip on the youthful finish. This is very tasty, but will want a year or two in the cellar to fully blossom…”