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Domaine Henri et Gilles Buisson

"Who is Burgundy’s next superstar? Who’s the next Roumier, Rousseau or Coche? Domaine Henri & Gilles Buisson" One of 6 producers - Further inroads into Burgundy 2020, Neal Martin, Vinous. 

The Buisson family has been tending vines in Saint-Romain since the 11th century. The family started buying up vineyards around Beaune in the 1920s. Henri and Marguerite Buisson owned the domaine in the 1950s (Henri actually began bottling in 1947) and their son Gilles and his wife, Monica, took over in the 1980s adding illustrious vineyards in Corton, Pommard, Meursault, Volnay and Beaune to the estate’s base holdings in Saint-Romain. Gilles began handing over to his sons, Franck and Frédérick, in the early 2000s. Big brother Franck looks after the business and operational side of things, little brother Fred makes the wines.

Born in 1985, Fred has been working in the family cellar since 2006. Before that, learning his trade from some of Burgundy’s best – with Anne-Claude Leflaive in 2004, Jean-Claude Boisset and Gregory Patriat in 2005, and Ludivine Grivot, Hospice de Beaune winemaker, in 2007. Though still very much involved father Gilles is nowadays happy to leave him in charge of day to day operations. Fred prefers to work as naturally as possible and is his approach is all about careful, gradual adaptations and refinements each year. In 2006 he implemented a gravity-feed system for the processing of the fruit. Since 2010 he has also been experimenting with the effect of sulphur on the family’s wines, the result of which is that Buisson now produces two sans soufre cuvées – something unique to them in Saint-Romain. His experiments with different barrel sizes has led him to the conclusion that he prefers 350l barrels for his chardonnay, which he thinks give just the right amount of tension and precision. 228s make the wines too rounded 500ls too hard and unrefined.

The Buisson estate has been biodynamically certified since 2018. Within the appellation of St-Romain, the Buissons’ vineyard area covers seven climats – five white, two red. From two of these, they also produce a red and white no-added-sulphur cuvée, Absolu, otherwise made in exactly the same way as their conventional cuvées from the same sites. The St-Romain appellation represents about a quarter of the vineyard land the Buissons farm. Rather than being situated on the main Côte d'Or escarpment, as most of the other Côte de Beaune wine villages are, Saint-Romain is located about 3km west of Meursault and just north of Auxey-Duresses in its own south-facing cul-de-sac-style valley. Saint-Romain is one of the highest-elevation villages in the Côte de Beaune. This has given it a reputation for producing less profound wines than, say Meursault or Puligny, but what with the effects of global warming, this simply doesn’t seem to apply any more. On the west-facing shoulder of the valley, where the celebrated climats of Sous la Velle and Sous le Château are located, the soils have a higher proportion of marl along with the typical creamy limestone; here the Buissons grow chardonnay. on the opposing side, where the broad stretch of the Sous Roche climat meets Combe Bazin, the soils have a higher content of iron in the clay, which is more favourable to Pinot.

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