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Essential Winemakers of France ©Opening a Bottle

Saint-Aubin, Burgundy

Primary Grapes: Aligoté, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay

Primary Appellations/Cru: Saint-Aubin AOC, Santenay AOC, Grand Cru Corton-Charlemagne AOC

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American Importer: Zev Rovine Selections

 

     

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Why Maison en Belles Lies is Essential

Burgundy is not known for being playful. If you want light-hearted, the wines seem to say, head south to Beaujolais. We’re busy awaiting our fate in a rich person’s cellar.

However, in the wines of Maison en Belles Lies, we see this formula shaken up. A small, biodynamic estate run by winemaker Pierre Fenals in the village of Saint-Aubin, Maison en Belles Lies manages to convey an openness that I find welcoming and overdue in Burgundy.

Certainly, there are age-worthy wines being made — including a Grand Cru Corton-Charlemagne and a 1er Cru Pinot Noir from Maranges — but Fenals isn’t afraid to explore unusual-for-Burgundy blends (such as “L’Etrange”, see below) or tap into the orange-wine/amphorae trend (such as “Ambre”). Naturally, Fenals is an outsider: a Parisian who left the fashion industry in part because he came across a book on biodynamic farming at a flea market. Sometimes, you need an outsider to make sense of a place, and for newcomers to Burgundy seeking an entry-point, Fenals provides it. “First tastes” don’t get any better than the Bougogne Aligoté, one of my favorite French white wines, period. Numerous winemakers are embracing this once-neglected variety, but Fenals’ version has left me with the clearest picture of its potential, and it serves as an exquisite introduction to why Burgundy is so beloved.

Maison en Belles Lies outstanding Aligoté ranks as one of my favorite French white wines of all time. ©Kevin Day/Opening a Bottle

Maison en Belles Lies outstanding Aligoté ranks as one of my favorite French white wines of all time. ©Kevin Day/Opening a Bottle

Wines to Seek Out

While this is a small estate, the range of wines is vast, ranging from Beaujolais-Village to Aloxe-Corton. I’d recommend these three wines if you are just getting to know Burgundy.

Maison en Belles Lies Bourgogne Aligoté

This is a monumental wine; there is no other way of putting it. Its magic begins with the exotic nose that conjures memories of sweet white flowers, key lime, honeycomb and a handful of herbs. The quick-paced acidity wipes the slate clean with each sip, and a delicious, mouthwatering finish lingers like the scent of a jasmine.

Maison en Belles Lies Santenay Blanc

An excellent, straightforward example of Bourgogne Blanc at the village level. Aromas are suggestive of lemon peel, golden apple, coconut and savory herbs, with a juicy, enticing acidity.

Maison en Belles Lies “L’Etrange” Vin de France

Dubbed “The Strange,” this peculiar blend relies on Pinot Noir, Gamay and Chardonnay — a Passe-Tout-Grains with a cameo of sorts. Its lightness borders on the ridiculous, but the fine, lean profile is so precise, and the aromas so abundant, it is a hard wine to turn away from — even if it is a little strange.

Originally listed: November 2020.

Visiting Maison en Belles Lies

Visits are by appointment only. Contact the winery.


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