The Lovely Curiosity of Saint-Bris

The wine is too obscure to be made with anything other than artisan passion, but it lacks the breed and concentration of great Loire Sauvignon made in Sancerre… and is more of a curiosity (being technically Burgundian but made from a decidedly non-Burgundian grape) than anything else. – Jancis Robinson, The Oxford Companion to Wine, Second Edition

I recently became interested in Saint-Bris, an appellation in Burgundy that has the distinction of being the only place in Burgundy allowed to make wine from 100% Sauvignon Blanc. While Jancis’s entry in the Oxford Companion may hit the mark about its relative obscurity, it unfortunately leaves us guessing about the quality, not to mention value, of Saint-Bris wines. Saint-Bris is not found on all store shelves, and though I had wanted to compare three to four, my search of Boston wine stores yielded only two. The Domaine Goisot is officially from the Saint-Bris AOC; the Simonnet-Febvre is a Vin de Pays de L’yonne.

These two wines rank among the most restrained and understated wines I can remember having. You would almost guess that they are not Sauvignon Blanc. To quote Jancis again, there is no “cat pee on a gooseberry branch” here.  They share a flinty minerality that brings to mind the land and that infamous French terroir. The nose of the Goisot has lots of lemon, where as the Simonnet-Febvre is more lemon-lime and grass (and after being open for more than a day, some nuttiness). The Goisot has refreshing acidity balanced by a round ripeness, making it very enjoyable and the favorite of this comparison. By contrast, the Simonnet-Febvre is intensely tart and juicy. Both are really lovely and are great on their own or with food. And at about half the price of a typical Sancerre, this little appellation is worth checking out.

2008 Domaine Goisot Sauvignon de St. Bris Moury is available at Gordon’s Fine Wines for $15.19.

2007 Simonnet-Febvre Sauvignon Blanc Vin de Pays de L’yonne is available at Brix Wine Shop for $13.99.

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Katrin is one of the co-founders of Wine Dine With Us. She enjoys sharing her love of wine on the blog, and is particularly fond of wines from Argentine, Alto Adige, and Germany. A lifelong environmentalist, Katrin has become increasingly interested in issues of sustainability in wine and food, local food production, biodynamics, and organic agriculture. When not drinking wine and writing about it, she is a nonprofit professional, specializing in fundraising and special events.


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