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.