Domaine Serrigny, Savigny-les-Beaune

Domaine Serrigny label

Country & RegionFrance, Burgundy
ProducerMarie-Laure Serrigny
Foundedlate 19th century

Domaine Serrigny is a family operation deep in the hollow of Savigny-les-Beaune. The household is on the hill behind the local château, and when you pull out of their road you can look down and see the seigneur’s crazy collection of mothballed fighter jets. He’s got them lined up on the chateau’s lawn, an eclectic display of man’s bird of prey.

Domaine Serrigny dates from the late 19th century. It’s made up of 7 hectares of vines (17 acres) and is run today by Marie Laure Serrigny. She’s the fourth generation, and she took over the estate in 1995 with her younger sister Francine. They tended the vines, made the wine, and together did all the myriad of things involved in running a domain until late in 2016 when Francine succumbed to a long battle with cancer.

Marie Laure Serrigny of Domaine Serrigny

Gilles Mathieu, a member of Jean-Pierre’s team over at Domaine Joseph Voillot, grew up in Savigny and had known the Serrignys all his life. He pretty much insisted that I visit, which I did early in February of 2016 without high expectations. The appellation is dominated by a handful of players and there was no press to speak of on the Serrigny wines.

Francine met me in her little courtyard on a wet afternoon. She wore boots, jeans, an old fleece over a sweater, and she had a tired air of savoir faire. There was no pretense about this grower. Marie Laure, dressed much the same, made an appearance to say hello and left for more pressing matters. The office Francine took me to had the look of a room that had been well used a generation ago. A fax machine still sat in the corner, plugged in. She opened a 2014 Bourgogne Blanc, and from the first scent of orchard fruits and minerals and honey I was carried away. Gilles arrived as the second wine got opened, his bald pate gleaming from the rain and his magnificent, sweptback moustache flaring like wings from his cheeks. As night fell, Francine’s boyfriend Jean-Luc Rousseau came in from the vines. He worked for many years in the cellar at Vougeraie, but came over full time to Serrigny in 2015. A reputed soccer goalie in his youth, he’s an enormous man with a great spread of arms, and he came into the dark room cold, wet, tired, and grateful for a glass. We sat around an old oak table in that modest office tasting what was an eye-opening range of old-vine wines from two vintages as the three friends caught up and warmly exchanged opinions on the wines. Among French growers, this was a common occurrence. For an American, it was a privilege. And not everything in Burgundy had been discovered, that was clear that evening, and that was pretty exciting. It was still possible to stumble upon two hardworking sisters who maintained a fax machine, did pigeage by foot, and made killer wines.

Gilles Mathieu

Domaine Serrigny farms small parcels in Auxey-Duresses, Côte de Nuits-Villages, Corton Charlemagne, Meursault, Monthelie, and Pernand Vergelesses, but the historic heart of the holdings are in Savigny. The farming culture is lutte raisonnée, i.e. sustainable, and the approach in the cellar is quite traditional. The parcel and the maturity dictate de-stemming entirely or partially (old man Serrigny never de-stemmed); the cap is still broken up by foot; and all of the élevages take place in older barrels for fourteen months (sometimes less for the whites, sometimes more for the reds) before racking to steel where the wine rests for several more months. No fining for the reds, and bottling with only a light filtration.

Domaine Serrigny bottles

Another salient fact is that Marie Laure works with some very old vines. These perforce give low yields, and it’s an exceptional vintage here that gives as much as 40 hectoliters per hectare. She’s not afraid to wait for good ripeness either. Her Pinots express fruit, spice and elegance, with excellent acidities and tannic structures (thanks in part to the old vines and limestone soils). Her Chardonnays are plump, toothsome renditions underpinned with driving acidity. These are wines made with a modest yet sure hand, which in all things wine is the most honest of hands. Average production is 2,500 cases.

The hail of 2013 damaged 80% of the Serrigny vines. The frost of May 2016 wiped out roughly 70% of the domain’s crop. Any plans that Marie Laure might have had to buy an automated system of pigeage went out the window. Tradition, chez Serrigny, endures.

Photo of Gilles Mathieu courtesy of Sébastien Erôme; the one of Marie-Laure and of the bottles courtesy of Jeff Bramwell.

The Wines

Bourgogne Blanc
ChardonnayA wine from two communes: an acre in Savigny-les-Beaune’s Les Perrières lieu-dit planted in 1991; and two acres in Meursault (in Herbeux and Malpoirier), where the vines average 40 years of age. These mature vines coupled with the pedigree of the terroirs make for a Bourgogne Blanc with intensity and substance, one punching well above its weight. Elevage takes place in older barrels for twelve months, followed by four in steel (essentially the same treatment used by the Bachelet boys at Bachelet-Monnot).Tech sheet here.
Savigny-les-Beaune blanc ChardonnayThree parcels produce this wine: Les Connardises, Les Bas Liards, and Les Pimentiers, planted in 2010, 1989, and 2008 respectively and totaling just over an acre and a half. Elevage is the same as for the Bourgogne Blanc. Production averages 375 cases. Tech sheet here.
Savigny-les-Beaune rouge
Pinot Noir Marie-Laure’s Savigny rouge comes from less than three acres spread among the parcels of Aux Champs Chardons, Aux Fourches, and Les Planchots. Production averages 500 cases. Tech sheet here.
Savigny-les-Beaune 1er cru La Dominode
Pinot Noir Serrigny’s 1.3 acres of vines in Dominode, a subzone of the premier cru Jarrons, are now about 100 years old and grow adjacent to those of Bruno Clair. About half of the grapes are normally de-stemmed for fermentation. The soils here are sandy and make for a supple wine with exceptional finesse and length. The name probably comes from the Latin “Dominus,” owner, master, or lord, implying that back in the day this site belonged to the Lord of Savigny. Tech sheet here.
Savigny-les-Beaune 1er cru Les Peuillets
Pinot Noir The domain has just over two acres of vines in Peuillets ("peu-yā", with a long 'ā') planted in 1965. Like the grapes from Dominode, usually about half of these are de-stemmed. The soil here is much more influenced by limestone and the wine is consequently more mineral and “lifted” in profile than the Dominode. Tech sheet here.