Big shot venture capitalists from Silicon Valley and millionaire investors from Bejing might be scooping up properties left and right in Napa and Bordeaux, but the romance of small, family-owned winemaking is alive and well in Burgundy. Check out Domaine Benson.
Domaine Besson is a perfect example, with a history extending back to 1902 and spanning four generations of winemaking. In 1902, Eugène Besson planted 7.58 hectares off vines in Chablis. Today his grandson, Alain, owns the Domaine. Alain’s daughter Camille received her diploma of oenology in 2013 and leads their winemaking efforts.
If big, tropical style Cali Chardonnay is your thing, look elsewhere.
These wines are all about pure elegance – but don’t let that fool you into thinking they lack complexity. This is stony, minerally, super-clean and complex Chardonnay at its best. Light yellow, almost transparent in the glass, but quite fleshy in the mouth, with delicate layers of lemon, lime, grapefruit and pear framed by that distinct Chablis flinty minerality. They produce a range of wines from the basic Chablis to Premier Crus and Grand Crus. Every one shows great personality and depth.
Like most Burgundy growers, Alain holds a hearty respect for the land. He uses a minimum of sprays and fertilizers and takes a non-interventionist approach to farming. He secured some fantastic parcels over the years, expanding to 21+ hectares of Chablis, Petit Chablis, Chablis Premier Cru and Chablis Grand Cru. They produce two Grand Crus, one from Vaudésir and the other from a tiny plot of vines smack dab in the middle of the legendary Le Clos vineyard.
The best Chablis vineyards are loaded with the famous kimmeridgian soil which has millions of seashells and tiny marine fossils preserved in its chalky white limestone. This gives the Chablis appellation its trademark flinty minerality and a fleshy density. It also adds something elusive, almost like there’s fresh baked bread or an almond croissant hiding somewhere nearby.
It’s not easy finding Burgundy wines that offer such balance between quality, quantity and value. Since discovering this producer on a trip to Europe in 2015 we have imported several of their wines and every time a new shipment lands in the warehouse we share some triumphant high fives. Domaine Besson represents one of our best discoveries and we are always super excited to share their wines with our customers.