Must-Have Wine: Maison Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey Saint Aubin Le Banc 2008

On my first trip to Burgundy some 20 years ago, I discovered the appellation and white wines of St. Aubin.

I had, by stroke of luck, managed to secure an appointment with Marc Colin Sr., on reflection a career-changing turn of events that inspired me to expand my Australian wine distribution business to importing from France and subsequently from all over Europe, not only broadening my outlook on wine but instilling the sense of discovery and passion that has driven me ever since.

Colin took me for a walk right throughout the fabled vineyards of Chassagne, Puligny and Le Montrachet to which I realised when at the top of the Le Montrachet slope; the adjoining higher vineyard was in fact St. Aubin “en Remilly”.

Sensing my heightened curiosity, Colin then proceeded to show me all the St Aubin vineyards and explain to me their different characteristics, as best as my cellar French could interpret.

At the time, St. Aubin was arguably the most underrated and undervalued appellation in all Burgundy, perhaps because it did not have the coveted word ‘Montrachet’ attached. However, it appeared to me that the quality of the white wines were comparable to Chassagne-Montrachet, and not just at the villages level, but equal to premier crus that sold for considerably higher prices.

St. Aubin is still relatively unknown outside the circle of aficionados who obsess with burgundy and all its idiosyncrasies and variabilities. Prices for St. Aubin have also remained relatively lower, in fact significantly lower than Chassagne-Montrachet, Puligny-Montrachet and Meursault, and yet there is a clear trend among the burgundy experts with their scores for St. Aubin only 1 or 2 points behind, sometimes equal, to these higher realms in the white burgundy hierarchy.

Thus I am at a loss to explain the discount that St Aubin sells at, even more so when I revisit some of the Domaine Marc Colin St Aubin premier crus wines that have aged admirably for 10 years and more, again seemingly outperforming the higher ranks.

One of my recent discoveries, or re-discoveries in a way, came thanks to Henry Hariyono at Artisan Cellars in Singapore, who shared a bottle of Maison Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey St Aubin ‘Le Blanc’ 2008, with me - yes quite a mouthful to pronounce.

Pierre-Yves is one of the elder Colin’s sons and up until 2005 was the winemaker for Domaine Marc Colin. Pierre-Yves married Caroline Morey, of the famed Domaine Jean-Marc Morey, hence the Colin-Morey for their new micro-négoce that they established in 2001.

Colin has since divided his estate among the next generation. Pierre-Yves combines the parcels he inherited, augmented by the grapes he purchasers from trusted growers under Maison Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey.

Pierre-Yves has quickly established his own style, and a departure from the Domaine Marc Colin approach with tighter, purer wines that have a palpable energy and tautness to them.

Henry, (Artisan Cellars) who is obsessed with burgundy, gets quite excited when discussing the minutiae of Pierre-Yves’ winemaking, pointing out technical and ideological detail such as using larger 350-litre oak barrels for maturation, as opposed to the traditional 228-litre, and that he does not stir the lees, preferring a longer period on the lees but also no filtering of the wines.

Should you be a burgundy nut, or on the way to being one, then you need to go to http://www.burghound.com to get the real juice on Maison Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey wines, for I am just a mere voyeur, but Allen Meadows the Jedi master on burgundy.

And to the bottle Henry and I shared, 2008 is a vintage somewhat passed over and underrated and yet already starting to shine in the bottle. Certainly Pierre-Yves made stunning wines in 2008, my note on the Maison Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey St Aubin “Le Blanc:Very expressive in citrus, leaning towards mandarin and kumquat, hints of pears and a scent or sensation of talc along with minerally chalky notes, also blanched almonds and a touch of oak combining in an attractive yet restrained perfume. Excellent thrust of tangy lemon and citrus engulfs the mouth, very taught and invigorating, almost in a Chablis sort of way, but softer and textural and yet intensely spicy horseradish-like-spice-warmth, amazing energy in the length and carry of acidity, finishes with a hint of nougat richness but still bristling with youth and bony, stony minerally tailing.

This is certainly a much purer, leaner and more poised chardonnay than what some may be used to from a white burgundy. It is delightful to drink now, or should I say we polished off a good part of the bottle in a blink, but it would be better for 3 to 5 years or more ageing.

I do have to warn you though, it will not be easy to find. Henry has since sold or drunk all of his, although I believe they do have some Maison Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey St Aubin "Les Champlots" premier cru 2008, at S$80. He also has several cuvees of the excellent Hubert Lamy St. Aubin wines, so check out www.artisan-cellars.com

You will however find the new release 2009 Maison Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey wines at his US New York-based agent Skurnik Wines. Visit www.skurnikwines.com or use this link

Good hunting, and if you find the Maison Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey, please share with us in comments.

(Curtis Marsh – The Wandering Palate, our veteran sommelier and independent wine and food writer, has over 30 years experience in hospitality, wine and media.)