The domaine was established by Henri Prudhon who was born and raised as a vigneron in the village of Saint Aubin since his birth in 1921. He and his wife, Marguerite, combined forces upon their marriage in 1945, putting their small vineyard holdings together to form the Domaine Henri Prudhon. Monsieur Prudhon was a force in his village, serving for many years as the Mayor of this lovely hamlet set just to the west of Puligny and Chassagne along Route Nationale 6. Their son, Gerard, born in 1949, joined the family enterprise and it was Gerard who decided, in the early years of the 1980s, to begin bottling the wines of the estate rather than selling off the fruits of their labors to the local negociants. Gerard, too, maintains the family’s interest in the affairs of the village, being elected multiple times Mayor of Saint Aubin. Gerard’s two sons, Vincent and Philippe, have now taken over the direction of the domaine, working under the watchful eye of Gerard who has instilled in his children the deep respect for the finest of Burgundian traditions.
We had the good fortune of appearing on the scene simultaneously with the expansion of the domaine and the decision to bottle and market the wines at the estate. Thus, the Prudhons have been our principal source for the wines of Saint Aubin from the outset of our career. Fortunately, Gerard Prudhon also increased the family holdings and expanded into the neighboring villages of Chassagne Montrachet and Puligny Montrachet which enabled us to increase our coverage in this sector of the Cote de Beaune. It is a particular pleasure to work with the Prudhon family. Their vineyard holdings in Saint Aubin are significant and, as a result, working with virtually the entire range of their wines enables us to develop a profound understanding of the tantalizing terroir of Saint Aubin and to display it in both red and white wines. If one bemoans the fact that so much of Burgundy is dear, then one has only to settle into this delightful geographical niche of Saint Aubin and indulge in the wines of this modest but oh-so-competent family to discover exceptional value.
The domain encompasses 14.5 hectares of vineyards and produces on the order of 90,000 bottles of wine annually, eighty-five percent of which is exported outside of France. The vineyards are managed with the objective of intervening as little as possible in the natural vegetative cycle. The vines are planted to a density of 10,000 per hectare; the Chardonnay is pruned in the Guyot fashion and the Pinot Noir follows the Cordon de Royat method. Harvest is manual and the objective of the domaine is to collect grapes when they achieve a balance, as perfect as possible, between sugar and acidity. At harvest, the white grapes are pressed in a pneumatic pressoir and then are racked into barrel to undergo both fermentations: alcoholic and malolactic. The cellars at the Prudhon domaine are quite cool and the fermentations usually extend for a long period of time. The reds are destemmed and experience a cold maceration of just a day or two; then, the alcoholic fermentation proceeds for an additional ten to twelve days with pigeage and remontage occurring throughout, although the Prudhons purposely do not seek to achieve a “super-extraction” preferring to express the finesse and complexity of their particular terroir. Very little new oak is used when aging the red wines; the percentage of new oak on the white wines depends on the particular cuvée with specific reference to the structure of the wine and the quantity produced; as little as 10% new oak may be used but no more than one-third is ever utilized.
|Bourgogne Aligote: Prudhon’s exemplary Aligote comes from two plots—one in Saint-Aubin and one in Puligny-Montrachet—totaling just under a half-hectare. The vines are between 30 and 60 years old. The wine is aged in stainless steel and bottled on the early side to preserve freshness. Its direct, zingy, and palpable mineral drive and an attractive fruit presence complement its bright and racy character.|
|Bourgogne Blanc “En Jorcul”: “En Jorcul” is a well-situated lieu-dit which abuts the appellation of Saint-Aubin on its western edge, just past “Le Ban”, and where the Prudhons own 0.8 hectares of vines. The wine is fermented and aged in barrel, but no new oak is employed, thereby allowing the minerality to take center stage, with a vivid, limestone-drenched nose, and a beautifully harmonious mouthfeel—driven, but not dominated, by vigorous acidity, and with a saliva-inducing interplay of fruit and mineral.|
|Saint Aubin Blanc Le Ban: This village level white is sourced from multiple parcels that cover 2 2/3 hectare; the bulk of the vineyards are hillside situated and are found in the southwestern quadrant of the village. The age of the vines varies from 10 to 60 years (as of 2011). The soil is clay and limestone and the exposition is south-southeast. No new oak is utilized on this cuvée and the elevage is about eight months long.|
|Saint Aubin Blanc 1er Cru Les Castets: This parcel is a mere 1/3 of an hectare and is planted to relatively young vines (15 years as of 2011). The vineyard is in the southwestern part of the village on a hillside slope overlooking the town and facing east-southeast. Elevage in barrel for the Les Castets is twelve months with about 25% new oak being used during that period. The wine is particularly rich and fruity perhaps without some of the complexity of the cuvées from parcels situated farther east.|
|Saint Aubin Blanc 1er Cru Sur le Sentier du Clou: The Prudhons have both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir planted in this lieu-dit. There is almost a half hectare planted to Chardonnay on this hillside site that sits northeast of the village. The vines are 35 years old and face east-southeast. An elevage of twelve months in barrel (approximately 25% new oak) precedes the bottling. The age of the vines and excellent exposure produce a wine of precision and character with firm minerality and broad shoulders.|
|Saint Aubin Blanc 1er Cru Les Perrieres: This half hectare parcel of 35 year old vines also sits to the northeast of the village slightly lower on the hill than the Sentier du Clou. The soil here is intensely stony. This was the very first of the 1er Cru whites to be bottled at the domaine in the early 1980s. The wines sees 12 months of elevage and about 20% of the barrels are new. The “Perrieres” is an ample wine with formidable complexity.|
|Saint Aubin Blanc 1er Cru Sur Gamay: As the name implies, this parcel of approximately ¾ of an hectare sits on a hillside overlooking the neighboring hamlet of Gamay (directly east of Saint Aubin and a neighbor to Puligny). The vineyard is a mix of 20 year old and 60 year old vines. The soils are classic clay and limestone and the vineyards face southwest. As with the other 1er Cru whites, this wine ages in barrel (20% new oak) for 12 months before bottling. The “Sur Gamay” yields a complex wine that often requires several years to express its full character marked by notes of honey and minerals.|
|Saint Aubin Blanc 1er Cru La Chateniere: A tiny parcel of about 1/10 of a hectare that sits on a very steep slope above the hamlet of Gamay facing southwest on clay and limestone soil. The vines are quite old (40 years as of 2011). Effectively, this is a “micro-cuvée” as less than three barrels are produced annually (about 800 bottles); thus, the new oak exposure is highest here (one-third). Perhaps the most classic wine of the appellation … a pure-bred!|
|Saint Aubin Blanc 1er Cru En Remilly: From a parcel about a quarter hectare in size, planted on a plateau just above the Grand Cru of Chevalier Montrachet in Puligny; vines of 25 years (as of 2011) with a south-southeast exposure on intensely stony soil. An exceptional wine that proves the quality to be found in the wines from this sometimes-ignored village.|
|Saint-Aubin Blanc 1er Cru “Les Murgers des Dents de Chien”: The Prudhons own just one-fifth of a hectare in this amazingly situated premier cru. Also a mere stone’s throw from Chevalier-Montrachet, “Les Murgers des Dents de Chien” sits just to the north of “En Remilly” and just below “Sur Gamay” on the slope—the most prime real estate in Saint-Aubin. As is typically the case, this bottling is less exuberant and forward than “En Remilly” in its youth, with a quiet, deep minerality, and a bit less sumptuous fruit character, but holds great, great promise.|
|Chassagne Montrachet Blanc 1er Cru Les Chenevottes: From the lieu-dit in the most northern sector of Chassagne, bordering Puligny and close to the Grand Cru Criots Batard Montrachet. The vines here are 40 years of age (as of 2011) and have a south-southeast exposure. The wine is aged on the fine lees for twelve months (sometimes more) before bottling. It is an ample and persistent wine that ages particularly well.|
|Puligny Montrachet Les Enseigneres: This parcel is almost one hectare in size with one part planted to 30-year old vines and a second part planted to vines in excess of 80 years of age! A splendidly sited lieu-dit that sits just beneath the Grand Cru Bienvenues Batard Montrachet. This wine is aged in barrel (20% new oak) for 15 to 18 months before bottling. Another of the exceptional values offered by this gem of a domaine.|
|Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru “La Garenne”: “La Garenne” sits high on the slope, just above the great Puligny-Montrachet premier cru “Champs Gains,” and bordering Blagny to the south. This represents Prudhon’s smallest holding, a parcel of 60-year-old Chardonnay vines on less than a tenth of a hectare (!). As befits its premier cru status, the “Garenne” is broader than “Enseigneres”, with a richer, more viscous texture, but still with a characteristically scintillating acidity. Because they produce only two barrels per vintage, this wine sees 50% new oak, but the sheer grandeur and density of the wine prevents it from being at all obtrusive.
|Bourgogne Rouge Les Charmeaux: This cuvée is drawn from several parcels in Saint Aubin that comprise about 7/10 of a hectare. The vines are a mix of young (10 years) and old (40 years). Clay and limestone soils with a western exposure in the western most sector of the village of Saint Aubin. The wine is aged in small barrel for eight months but no new oak is used.|
|Saint Aubin Rouge Les Argillers: The Prudhons own several parcels in the village appellation that extend over 2 1/3 hectares and sit in the southwestern part of the village. The vines are between 30 and 60 years of age with a south- southeast exposure. There is an elevage of 15 to 18 months in barrel (virtually none of which is new). A classic version of this appellation with considerable spice, excellent red fruit and subtle tannins.|
|Saint Aubin Rouge 1er Cru Les Frionnes: Like the Perrieres in white, the Frionnes in red was the first of the 1er Cru Saint Aubins to be bottled for sale directly from the domaine in the early 1980s. The vines are from a one hectare parcel on a hillside vineyard situated between Saint Aubin and Gamay. The vine age is 45 years on average (as of 2011) and the exposure is east-southeast. The Prudhons give this intensely fruity wine less aging in barrel (virtually no new oak) and bottle this cuvée just prior to the next year’s harvest.|
Saint Aubin Rouge 1er Cru Sur le Sentier du Clou: This wine is from some of the oldest vines in the estate, planted between 40 and 80 years ago (as of 2011). The parcel is about 1.5 hectare in size and sits on a hillside between Saint Aubin and Gamay with an east-southeast exposure. There is an elevage of 15 to 18 months (with very little new oak used). Perhaps the most serious and complex of the red wines of the domaine with a character dominated by red fruits and spices supported by substantial backbone.
|Saint Aubin Rouge 1er Cru Les Rouges Gorges: This wine is produced from two separate parcels: one on a hillside above the hamlet of Gamay and the other from a parcel between Saint Aubin and Chassagne Montrachet. The average age of the vines is 50 years (as of 2011). A classic wine of this sector with compelling notes of animal and wild berries. The elevage is about 18 months before bottling; again, very little new oak is used.|
|Chassagne Montrachet Rouge Les Chambres: From a parcel of one-third of a hectare in the heart of Chassagne on the eastern side. The vines are 40 years old (as of 2011) and they sit with an east-southeast exposure. The cuvaison is about two weeks long and the elevage lasts for 15 to 18 months. Very little new oak is used. This is an assertive wine with strong scents and flavors that tend to the “sous bois” and leather/animal; powerful with a solid backbone of tannins; a humble, honest and satisfying wine. We buy the entirety of this cuvée (approximately 780 to 900 bottles).|
Those who decry the lack of access to fine Burgundy at palatable prices need look no further than Domaine Henri Prudhon in Saint-Aubin. While it is undeniably true that the prices of many wines from the most battled-after growers have reached the level of pure commodity, there are still areas of this hallowed region where one can find great Burgundy at affordable prices—villages like Saint-Aubin, with vineyards on a high slope, in a cool microclimate, mere paces away from grand cru turf.
Those who decry the lack of access to fine Burgundy at palatable prices need look no further than Domaine Henri Prudhon in Saint-Aubin. While it is undeniably true that the prices of many wines from the most battled-after growers have reached the level of pure commodity, there are still areas of this hallowed region where one can find great Burgundy at affordable prices – villages like Saint-Aubin, with vineyards on a high-slope, in a cool-microclimate lying paces away from grand cru turf.
2015 Domaine Henri Prudhon Saint-Aubin La Chatenière 1er Cru The 2015 Saint-Aubin La Chatenière 1er Cru has a pretty bouquet of orange blossom, white peach and a little bruised apple, all nicely defined and displaying a subtle mineral edge. The well-balanced palate is sappy and saline in the mouth, offering a fine line of acidity