Cellier Saint Benoit Savagnin Sous Voile NV

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Grapes: Pinot

Region: Arbois, France

Vintage: 2020

Viticulture: Organic conversion

Soils: Marl

Vinification: Direct press, the fermented in barrel without sulfur. Flor develops and protects the wine from oxygen

Aging: 6 years in barrels under flor

Fining or Filtering: None

Sulfur: None

Notes from the Importer: Benjamin’s paternal great-grandfather founded the domaine, or rather the farm, because for the majority of domaines in the Jura at the time, grapes generated only part of the income. There were dairy cows as well, and their milk was sold for the production of Comté. It was only in the early eighties that Benjamin’s father was able to fully focus on the vineyards. He sold his grapes to the Fruitière Vinicole d’Arbois —fruitière is the local name for cooperatives. In 2002, he made his first domaine wine, a Vin Jaune. In 2004, he left the fruitière and vinified 2 of his 6 hectares. The remainder of the grapes were sold to other domaines or négociants.

Benjamin, who was born in 1995, was a mediocre student in middle school, and he did not like helping out in the vineyards either. “It was back-breaking work,” he says. “It was hot in the vineyards. I didn’t understand why I couldn’t just hang out with my friends at the local swimming pool.” Nor did Benjamin have a clue what he wanted to do later, and therefore, what to study. Frustrated, his father didn’t leave him a choice. He enrolled Benjamin in the technical high school in Beaune to study viticulture and winemaking. Astonishingly, after just a couple months, Benjamin was first in his class. “When we saw this,” his mother says, “we thought the school had sent us the grades of another child.”

“It was because everything had a practical implication,” Benjamin says. “Math, chemistry, technical subjects, they all had a direct consequence on the vines and the wines. Everything made sense.” Benjamin became obsessed. He shared a room at school with Guillaume Overnoy (Pierre’s great-nephew) and César Deriaux of Domaine de Montbourgeau. “While they slept, I studied late into the night with a little student’s lamp.”

After his baccalauréat, Benjamin stayed in Beaune to pursue a license (BTS) in viticulture and enology. His first internship, in 2014, was with Charles Lachaux. His second was with Amélie Berthaut. He was working in her Vosne-Romanée Les Petits Monts when he learned of his father’s passing.

We visited Benjamin in Pupillin to taste the baby 2019s and were very impressed. He was cautious about what he hoped to achieve. The vineyards had been farmed conventionally. There was so much to change. Like his father had, he had only vinified 2 hectares, a small production made even smaller by frost. It would not leave a lot of money for all of the necessary investments.

But on our visit in July 2020, we were astounded. Much like when he went to school in Beaune, Benjamin had gone all in. And it wasn’t just the land: his first vintage, now in bottle, was brilliant.

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