SAINT VERAN. 1978 – ALEXIS LICHINE
by Paul Kalemkiarian Sr | February 1983
A Saint Veran wine comes from the region of Macon, in southern Burgundy. It is a satellite of the famous Pouilly-Fuisse wines. In 1971, it gained its own designation, and now seven villages in this area (Chanes, Saint-Amour, Saint-Verand, Prisse, Chasselas, Leynes, and Davaye) are allowed to label their wine Saint Veran. Like its sister wine, it is made entirely from the Pinot Chardonnay grape and resembles it very closely, at a much more sensible price. (The popularity of Pouilly-Fuisse has skyrocketed, and so has the price beyond the “good value” level).
In my search for an outstanding example of wine from this area in the proper price/value ratio, I found most of the wines available were regional labels. (Versus estate bottled and labeled. Regional wines are purchased in bulk by wine merchants, bottled and labeled with their “seal of approval” and marketed with their reputation). I was particularly pleased with the fact that this Alexis Lichine selection won out. He is one of the deans of French wine. Based in New York, but spending more time in France at his Chateau Prieure-Lichine, he is more a student of wine than a merchant. He said: “Foremost among my aims is the desire to transmit to others the infinite pleasure of the marriage of food and wine – a marriage which I regard as one of the highest, most civilized expressions of nature”. An author and lecturer, Alexis Lichine was described by Newsweek as “No individual has played a bigger part in educating the American palate”. The offering of this 1978 Saint Veran is testimony to his expertise.
Pinot Chardonnay, the noble white grape of Burgundy, produces somewhat different wines in the various areas it is grown. Differences of soil and vinification traditions are some of the reasons. Chardonnay from the Macon tends to be softer and fruitier than Chablis, and not as steely. It differs from the famous Cote D’Or chardonnays by not being as big and bold.
This Saint Veran is golden yellow in color, with a deep varietal aroma of aged chardonnay, and showing complexity. It is full bodied, with a hint of acidity that is refreshing. The flavor is long on the palate, and it finishes clean. Well balanced. Serve chilled with seafood or poultry.
Cellaring Notes: Has seen the age it should. It is at its peak. Consume during the next 12 months.