aint-Vérand is in the very south of Burgundy, the part of the Mâconnais bordering on the Beaujolais. This small village at the top of a steep hill with not even 200 inhabitants has given name to the appellation of Saint-Véran, an appellation producing white wine only from chardonnay grapes.
In the past this part of Burgundy was producing white Beaujolais. Then in 1947 the winegrowers in Saint-Vérand, Chânes, Chasselas, Leynes and Saint Amour joined forces and created the Amicale des
Producteurs de Vin Blanc. In 1953 they were joined by Davayé, and then in 1969 by Prissé, both producers of white Mâcon-Villages. The aim for this organization was to lay the groundwork for creating a new appellation for their wines.
In 1971, after more than 20 years of preparations, the appellation Saint-Véran saw the light of day. The name of the appellation is spelt without a "d" at the end, while the village spells its name Saint-Vérand. It was originally the bishop of Cavaillon that in the sixth century gave his name to the village. It later became Saint-Véran des Vignes. Then during the French revolution it was briefly called Arlois, after which the old name was brought back and shortened to Saint-Vérand.
The Saint-Véran appellation is not limited to Saint-Vérand. It covers a total of 679,71 hectares over six communes – Davayé, Prissé, Chânes, Chasselas, Leynes and Saint Vérand. The appellation forms two separate blocks, one of each side of the Pouilly-Fuissé appellation that stretches throughout the communes of Chaintré, Fuissé, Solutré- Pouilly and Vergisson – one to the north of consisting of Davayé and Prissé, and one to the south consisting of Chânes, Chasselas, Leynes and Saint Vérand.
Both the Beaujolais-Villages and Beaujolais appellations spill over into the Saint-Véran communes. Saint-Vérand, Leynes and Chânes all have large portions of Beaujolais-Villages and there is some Beaujolais in Chasselas. The decline in interest in recent years for Beaujolais has led to a considerable fall in land prices. It is not unusual to see vineyards left to grow wild. The vines are not tended and grass and bushes are slowly taking over. Today the price per hectare for Beaujolais-Villages land is only one fifth of the price for Saint-Véran and quite often if you want to buy Saint-Véran land you are forced to buy a chunk of Beaujolais-Villages as well. That is the only way for the seller to get rid of it.
In Saint-Vérand itself there is only 25 hectares of Saint-Véran vines. Only Chânes with its 15 hectares is a smaller producer of Saint-Véran. Prissé is the giant with a surface area ten times the size of Saint-Vérand's.
In terms of character, soil and exposition the Saint-Véran wines can be divided into three groups. Wines from Davayé and Prissé are usually grouped together – powerful and rich wines with mineral and floral undertones. Chasselas, Leynes and Saint Vérand form another group – limestone soil that is the geological continuation of the vineyards found below the Roche de Solutré and the Roche de Vergisson, producing powerful wines. More so in the case of Leynes and Saint Vérand, while the wines from Chasselas tend to be more on the fruitier side. Chânes forms a group on its own with siliceous, marly limestone soils resulting in round and fruity wines.
© 2013 Ola Bergman