Why Marc Colin is Essential
Selected by Ashley Hausman MW
When I first stumbled upon Domaine Marc Colin in the oft-overlooked pocket of Saint-Aubin — which sits beyond the celebrated Premier and Grand Cru vineyards of Chassagne and Puligny in the Côte de Beaune — I was enchanted… and in a bit of disbelief.
It was early in my career, and Burgundy felt untouchable. Even when I could afford a modestly priced Bourgogne, it felt like so many other wines in the world could deliver more for less. With time and exposure to grander Burgundies through work, that chasm only seemed to widen. Until I met the Colins.
Here were these exquisite white (and some red) Burgundies with all the complexity of its neighbors at oftentimes less than half the price. I thought I had discovered a secret no one else really knew. Recent years have ushered in even more prohibitively priced bottlings throughout Burgundy — an understandable outcome of rising global demand and lower supply due to hailstorms and frost-ridden vintages. As a result, I am no longer alone, as everyone is looking to the outskirt villages for a Burgundy fix — places like the Mâcon, Auxey-Duresses, the Auxerrois, Santenay, Chablis, Haut Côte-de-Beaune and -Nuits, and yours truly: Saint-Aubin.
As is the story for many in Burgundy, the Colins are part of a much bigger winemaking family tree under the same name, making a region already confusing to understand that much more befuddling. But here is the skinny: Bernard and Michel Colin-Deleger are Marc's cousins. Michel is the father of Bruno and Phillipe, who both inherited a good many parcels but with particular emphasis in Chassagne-Montrachet. Marc Colin went on to establish his own domaine in 1970 in the heart of Saint-Aubin with vines he and his wife Michèle inherited. They have since had four children. One son, Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey, split to do his own thing in 2005 (his nowthe-prestigious eponymous domaine). Another son who assisted him for years, Joseph, took his inheritance in 2017 to establish his own label. It is their two other children, Caroline and Damien, who run the roost at the family domaine now. The estate now has about 12 hectares spread over Saint-Aubin predominantly with a couple key holdings in Chassagne-Montrachet, Puligny-Montrachet and Santenay (another haven for attractively priced gems).
Saint-Aubin feels almost other worldly when you stand in the vines, as they cling to the steep hillsides in nearly every orientation — gazing east, south, west, even north for some sites. Here, nearly 75% of the sites are Premier Cru designated. They don't follow the main artery, or escarpment, that so many others do in the Cote d'Or. Rather, Saint-Aubin is tucked away like a treasure to the west of Chassagne-Montrachet. In proper Burgundy fashion, the vineyards come to have their own defining feature and personality from the more austere, buttoned-up bottles from Montceau 1er Cru to those with more expansive presence on the palate, such as the revered En Remilly or Chatenière.
The Colin family has had an integral role in shaping Saint-Aubin and establishing its potential, paving the way for other greats who have followed. These wines are singular and truly exceptional on the palate. They engage in a push-pull of tension that compels so many to white Burgundy with a certain je ne sais quoi that is distinctly Marc Colin. Even with rising prices, they offer some of the best values in all the land.
Appellations/Cru: Saint-Aubin AOC,
American Importer: Shiverick Imports (East and West Coast), Old World Wine (Rocky Mountains)
Originally listed: September 2021
Wines to Seek Out
Over the years, the Colin family have gone from a lutte raisonée approach (mindful, reasoned tactics in viticulture that tries to refrain from any synthetic inputs) to a more rigorous organic philosophy. They opt for native yeast fermentations and modest oak (approximately 10-25% new). Their wines can be described as more reductive and gunflinty in their expression, with minimal lees movement and overall rackings. After about a year in barrel, they are transferred to stainless steel for about three to six months before bottling.
Domaine Marc Colin Bourgogne Blanc
It is thought that the best producers in Burgundy don't cut corners when it comes to their 'simple' Bourgogne, and that is certainly the case for this wine. Time and again, it over delivers for the money and gives even the snobbiest of Burgundy aficionados the feeling of fortune when it hits the palate. These grapes have integrity: some brush shoulders with Chassagne while many coming from remnants of various Saint-Aubin plots (ya gotta do something with those awkward fractions that can't quite take up a whole barrel!). This wine includes grapes from vines that are more than 50 years old. A stunning starting point to understanding Domaine Marc Colin’s approach.
Domaine Marc Colin Santenay Blanc
As Saint-Aubin begins to garner more attention from the critics in the age of lower and lower yields, prices slowly inch up each year. So even when 1er Cru from Marc Colin isn't quite what Wednesday night ordered, perhaps their Santenay will do the trick. This is a great example of how a winemaker can have their imprint on a wine no matter the source. The Santenay Blanc has more nerve and gusto than most in its league. It carries that nutty, flinty undertone that emanates from so many of the domaine's wines.
Domaine Marc Colin Saint Aubin 'Cuvee Luce'
A gateway to the appellation, this cuvee gives one a solid sense of what it means to be from Saint Aubin. A medley of four cooler, village-level parcels, here acidity is a key feature — zesty lemon peel and a hint of mint to keep the sides of your tongue buzzing. A perfect introduction to the producer and place.
Domaine Marc Colin Saint Aubin Blanc 1er En Remilly
There are dozens of 1er Crus to choose from when it comes to Marc Colin, but if you want to try one that is considered the belle of the ball, then you might want to seek out some En Remilly. It certainly has the staying power if you are trying to find some ageworthy Burgundy as well. En Remilly is perched on the hillside bordering Chassagne- and Puligny-Montrachet, but itshares the soil type of Chevalier-Montrachet. The wines are as broad as they are chiseled, allowing for texture and tension that is mesmerizing on the tongue. They showcase the trademark yellow fruit and flint notes that hallmark so many of Colin's wines.
Domaine Marc Colin Santenay Rouge V.V. Les Champs Claude
Colin may not be known for their reds, but when you have access to Burgundy that is made from Pinot Noir vines planted in 1901 for roughly $50 — well, you pay attention. The most striking thing about this wine is its delicate framework and chalky texture folded into lush and heightened red fruit. This wine simply shimmers.