Exploring Bourgogne (1) Domaine Verret, Saint-Bris

Domaine Verret
14 route de Champs – 89530 Saint-Bris-Le-Vineux
Tel. +33 (0)3 86 53 31 81

The Verret family have been winegrowers in Saint-Bris since 1750. It’s an interesting part of Bourgogne, close to Auxerre and not far from Chablis. I visited with Bruno Verret, who farms 66 hectares of vines, which is very big by the standards of this region, in Saint-Bris and Irancy. As well as making wines from these two AOPs, he’s also making Bourgogne Aligoté, Crémant and some Chablis. The winery is in the building that used to house the old Saint-Bris cooperative, which closed in the 1950s.

Bruno Verret

The appellation of Saint-Bris was created in 2003 and consists of just 161 hectares. This is the only appellation in Bourgogne where Sauvignon is allowed. Irancy is also small, with 315 hectares of vineyards, planted to Pinot Noir plus up to 10% Cesar. Cesar is less interesting now because the Pinot Noir ripens regularly, whereas in the past it was used to add some extra depth to wines that might otherwise have been rather lean.

I was curious about Bruno’s fondness for Aligoté. What makes it such an interesting variety? ‘It’s a grape that has a lovely diversity of terroirs and producers,’ he says, ‘with lots of different forms of elévage. Everyone has their own style. And Aligoté is accessible for consumers in taste and price.’

Vineyards in Saint-Bris
Limestone soils

‘Aligoté has always been important for the domaine,’ he adds. It represents 20% of their production. ‘As we are in the north of Bourgogne, we make Aligoté with a nice freshness.’ Verret have 14 parcels of Aligoté of different ages and on different terroirs, and currently they blend them. Bruno is thinking of taking a couple of the more special plots and making bottlings of these climats. They can’t use the term ‘Saint-Bris’ on the Aligoté, though. Aligoté is considered just a regional level grape in Bourgogne, with the exception of the Bouzeron AOC in the Côte Chalonnaise. Before 2003 they could use Coteaux de Saint-Bris or Coteaux de Citry for Aligoté, but now that Saint-Bris is an AOP there are limitations about how the name can be used.

Aligoté has been planted in some nice places, historically. In Corton Charlemagne they had some Aligoté co-planted in the vineyard, which would be included in the wine, adding freshness. ‘In my Aligoté, I begin harvest with it and end harvest with it,’ says Bruno, ‘with the other grapes in between. We need freshness, but also fatness.’ He thinks that Aligoté can be aged. ‘It ages in the same spirit as the Chardonnays according to the terroir.’


Domaine Verret Bourgogne Aligoté 2022 France
12% alcohol. Clay/limestone soils. Stainless steel, wild fermented. This is layered and quite complex with nice citrus and pear fruit with some stony mineral notes. It’s really expressive with nice lemony acidity, nice weight on the mid palate and a mineral, tapering finish with lovely delicacy. Such a fine expression of this variety. Not flashy, but really fine. 92/100 (€7 from the domaine)

Domaine Verret Bourgogne Aligoté 2021 France
12% volume. A complicated vintage because of frost and then mildew. Lovely aromatics here: some apricot and honey with citrus and some spice. Lovely ripe, open, quite exotic fruit with lovely openness: apricot, table grape and even some melon. Quite distinctive. 90/100

Domaine Verret Bourgogne Aligoté 2020 France
12% alcohol. This has lots of interest. It’s quite mineral and stony but there’s nice development with a touch of melon and spice as well as linear citrus fruit. Has a stony edge with lovely fruit and hints of cabbaged and herbs. Stylish. 90/100

Domaine Verret Saint-Bris Sauvignon 2022 Saint-Bris, Bourgogne, France
12.5% alcohol. From the plateau. Stainless steel. Stony, pure and quite mineral with a nice green tinge to the sweet pear and citrus fruit. Has nice acidity and complexity with a spicy citrus finish. Nice balance. 91/100 (€10)

Domaine Verret Saint-Bris Sauvignon Veaupiary 2020 Saint-Bris, Bourgogne, France
This is Sauvignon Gris. Fermented in older oak. Smoky, mineral and spicy with nice density to the citrus fruit with some pear and white peach, too. There’s lovely complexity here with some volume in the mouth. Has a slight nuttiness on the finish, but also nice spiciness. 92/100 (€13)

Domaine Verret Bourgogne Côtes d’Auxerre Chardonnay 2020 France
12.5% alcohol. St Bris, blend of plots of Chardonnay, one-third in oak. South-facing. Creamy and textured with some nice citrus fruit, as well as some apple. Has a fine spicy edge to the fruit with good definition. Under the fruit there’s some minerality and salinity, and it finishes long. 91/100

Domaine Verret Bourgogne Côtes d’Auxerre Chardonnay Les Gaudiers 2019 France
100% old barrels. Special climat, where it took the vines five years until their first harvest. This is taut and linear with lovely minerality. Crystalline citrus fruit with a saline, mineral core and some ripe pear and white peach fruit, held in check with keen acidity. Alert, alive and quite profound. Lovely balance and intensity here. Finishes long and mineral. 94/100 (€15)

Domaine Verret Coteaux Bourguignons Rosé 2022 France
13.5% alcohol. Gamay rosé. Pale pink colour. Fruity and expressive with bright cherries and plums as well as some mandarin and lime. Nice freshness here with a sweet core to the fruit and then some bright acidity and a stony, mineral finish. 90/100

Domaine Verret Coteaux Bourguignons 2022 France
13% alcohol. Gamay planted in Irancy. Destemmed and then fermented and raised in stainless steel. This is joyful, supple, rounded and fresh with juicy cherry and berry fruits and just a touch of crunchy structure. Very pure and fine with amazing freshness and lovely fruit. So pleasurable with a sweet core to the fruit, but also great definition with good acidity. 91/100 (€7.50)

Domaine Verret Bourgogne Côtes d’Auxerre Pinot Noir 2021 France
12.5% alcohol. From Saint-Bris. There’s a stony, mineral edge to the nose here with sweet cherries and plums. The palate has lovely acidity and structure, with a mineral edge and some chalky notes, as well as sour cherry and redcurrant fruit, finishing fresh and bright. So lovely. 92/100 (€10)

Domaine Verret Irancy 2021 Bourgogne, France
13% alcohol. There’s a slight beetroot and earth edge to the sweet cherry and berry fruit here. Stony and vivid, with sweet berries and plums, with some sour cherry on the finish. Lively and juicy with nice acidity and freshness. Very expressive. 91/100 (€15)

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