Arnaud Dubreuil at Domaine Philippe & Arnaud Dubreuil in Savigny-lès-Beaune.
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The six Savigny-lès-Beaune premier crus of Domaine Philippe & Arnaud Dubreuil look as if they have been placed there for educational purposes. Nicely lined up across the eastern part of Savigny-lès-Beaune, from one side to the other, from the bottom of the slope to the top, they illustrate the differences in character. Tasting the wines side by side will give you an idea of the impact of the variations in soil, exposure etc.

In terms of surface area Savigny-lès-Beaune is one of the major villages in the Côte d’Or. 358 hectares of vineyards in total. Like many other growers here Domaine Philippe & Arnaud Dubreuil has its vineyards in Savigny and the neighbouring villages. From 45 parcels in five villages – Beaune, Chorey-lès-Beaune, Aloxe-Corton, Ladoix-Serrigny and Savigny-lès-Beaune – Arnaud Dubreuil produces 15 wines.

The cabotte in Les Lavières, Savigny-lès-Beaune.– Growing up I wanted to become a horticulturist, a gardener, says Arnaud Dubreuil. As I grew older I found it more logical to take on the family domaine instead. I love working outdoors.

Domaine Philippe & Arnaud Dubreuil is a bit unusual in the sense that everything is sold directly to private customers. There is no export, no distributors or resellers. The only exception is a small portion of grapes sold to Bichot, the négociant, thanks to an old agreement.

– I took on the domaine in 2010, explains Arnaud Dubreuil. By then I had been working together with my father for ten years. My grandfather created the domaine in the 1950s. Then my father set up his own in the 1970s. When my grandfather retired my father brought together all the vineyards from the two domaines.

Savigny-lès-Beaune, Burgundy.Since then Arnaud Dubreuil has added another two and a half hectares to the domaine, making the total surface area 12,5 hectares. 80 per cent of the production is red wine, the rest is white. Domaine Philippe & Arnaud Dubreuil also shares its past with another Savigny-lès-Beaune domaine, Domaine Simon Bize.

Domaine Philippe & Arnaud Dubreuil in Savigny-lès-Beaune, Burgundy.– Bize is an old family, says Arnaud Dubreuil. My grandmother was a Bize. Patrick Bize was my father’s cousin. In the past Domaine Dubreuil and Domaine Bize were the same domaine.

– The great grandparents Bize had vineyards. My grandmother got some of them and that was what my grandfather started out with. He originally came from a village in the plains, not far from Beaune.

The most recent addition to the domaine is the grand cru, the white Corton, Les Grandes Lolières, which you’ll find in Ladoix-Serrigny.

– 2018 was the first vintage for me with this wine, says Arnaud Dubreuil. It’s a parcel I’m familiar with, because it was a colleague of mine who had it before. He retired and decided to get rid of his vineyards, so I was able to take on this one. I’m familiar with the wine, but I haven’t worked the vineyard before.

In terms of winemaking he has started out with the Corton in a similar way to his white Savigny-lès-Beaune, with slightly more (25 per cent) new oak to it.

Domaine Philippe & Arnaud Dubreuil in Savigny-lès-Beaune, Burgundy.– For a Savigny you can’t have a too long élevage, because you’ll lose the fruit, says Arnaud Dubreuil. The character of Savigny is the fruit, often very fine.

He also makes a white Bourgogne Hautes-Côtes de Beaune which comes from Les Perrières, a lieu-dit just above Savigny-lès-Beaune.

– It’s the last vineyard as you go up the hill. I have 17 ouvrées (0.73 ha) there. It’s a blend of pinot blanc and chardonnay. I have two parcels. One where the vines are 30 years and one where they are 70 years. The yield is lower in the older parcel, but the quality is higher. Together the two parcel make a nice blend with a good acidity.

In red there are another two regional appellations at Domaine Philippe & Arnaud Dubreuil. One Bourgogne from vines in Chorey-lès-Beaune and one Bourgogne Hautes-Côtes de Beaune from both Les Perrières and Mont Battois.

The church in Savigny-lès-Beaune, Burgundy.– The parcel in Chorey-lès-Beaune – Les Closeaux – is, despite having vines which are more than 50 years old, quite productive. It’s a nice wine, but nothing spectacular when it comes to structure. The Hautes-Côtes de Beaune is quite different. There you have structure and good extraction. It’s often on par with a village appellation Savigny.

Both the white and the red village appellation Savigny-lès-Beaune are blends of several parcels. The white comes from Les Planchots, Les Bourgeots, Les Vermots and Les Goudelettes.

– For the red I have parcels in Les Planchots and Les Bourgeots as well, says Arnaud Dubreuil. Then there are also parcels in Champs Chardons, Les Saucours, Les Liards and Les Goudelettes. From the 2018 vintage I have singled out Les Liards and made a separate cuvée out of it. For all my reds I use temperature-controlled, open wooden tanks for vinification and barrels for the élevage.

View over the Savigny-lès-Beaune vineyards in Burgundy.The six Savigny-lès-Beaune premier crus of Domaine Philippe & Arnaud Dubreuil – all red – are lined up from south to north across the commune. Les Narbantons is the southernmost of them all, next to the Paris motorway.

– Les Narbantons produces very fruit-driven wines, says Arnaud Dubreuil. The vines are not particularly old, but they are SO4 root-stocks and the wine doesn’t age very well. I’m thinking about uprooting part of it.

Les Serpentières never suffers from drought stress. There are underground springs there and when it rains there is water coming up to the surface.

Arnaud Dubreuil at Domaine Philippe & Arnaud Dubreuil in Savigny-lès-Beaune.– It’s a wine with lots of finesse. East of Les Serpentières you have Les Lavières, which is quite different. The name comes from laves, the flat stones you find there. You only have 30 centimetres of surface soil before you reach the laves.

Immediately above Les Lavières you have the small premier cru of Les Charnières. It is actually surrounded by Les Lavières on three sides.

– I have two small parcels there, says Arnaud Dubreuil. Just three ouvrées (0.13 ha) each. It’s the smallest appellation in Savigny. We are just four owners – me, Cornu-Camus, Capitain-Gagnerot and one more which I don’t have the name of since that parcel changed hands recently. Les Charnières usually produces a wine which is slightly more robust. More body. It is not a huge difference from Les Lavières, but there is one. The sub-soil is not at all the same.

– Just above you also have Les Talmettes and Les Vergelesses. Les Talmettes is a small appellation as well. Just four owners – Bichot, Chenu, Bize and I. It is just below the forest and the soil is very stony. In fact there is not much soil at all. It can be a problem in dry years, but the wines have more body. They are better suited for keeping. The tannins are tough when the wines are young, so they need time.

– Les Vergelesses is even higher up, where the slope turns towards Pernand-Vergelesses. In Savigny this is where you find the most full-bodied and powerful wines. There is very little soil there, so the vines have to fight for their existence.

© 2020 Ola Bergman