Somewhere in the northern outskirts of Burgundy, near the Chablis in Auxerrois, there’s a little-known place called Saint Bris. This area has been making wine quietly since the 12th century, mostly whites like Chardonnay, Sauvignon, and Aligoté. The lineage is well documented, and the Goisot family themselves can trace back 7 generations. Unfortunately, after phylloxera struck, the vineyards suffered and were reduced to less than a third of what they once were. Although many vines were replanted in the 1920s, Saint Bris didn’t make the cut as an official Appellation when the system was instilled in 1935. It’s only recently been recognized (as a part of Burgundy) thanks to the efforts of farmers like Ghislaine and Jean-Hugues Goisot. Their goal is to elevate Saint Bris into its own, independent Appellation.
The Saint Bris is a naturally hospitable habitat for white wine. The Jurassic soil is rich in limestone and marl, the cool climate amid the rolling hills preserves moisture and prolongs the vine growth, supporting a longer fermentation period (which these guys follow). Everything seems meditative, carrying a sense of centeredness and calm.
I was introduced to this wine by Anne Thompson at BISq in Cambridge. This new wine bar, under the direction of Kai Gagnon, is tucked away at the back of the restaurant, and feels like I’m having my own private party every time I step in. Knowing that I’m in good hands makes it easy to relax and ask questions about the wine, learning not only about what I’m drinking but about Kai’s taste, too.
I’m drinking Fié Gris, she tells me. Awesome, another grape I’ve never tried! Since it’s my first encounter, I’m not really sure how to describe it. But understanding Kai’s list as focused on persistence and subtlety (mainly in Northern France & Germany), and thinking of the other grapes grown in Saint Bris, it seems leaner than a Chardonnay and instead of the herbaciousness of Sauvignon, it smells like dried roses and apricots and had this peaceful vibrancy like a Tibetan Singing Bowl. I really can’t think of another way to say this- it is sensationally pure.