Jérôme Fornerot at Domaine Jérôme Fornerot in Saint-Aubin.

ince last year Domaine Jérôme Fornerot has more than doubled in size. This Saint-Aubin domaine has gone from seven and a half hectares to close to 17 hectares.

– I have taken on all the vineyards my father had, explains Jérôme Fornerot. Unfortunately he passed away just after harvest last year. The domaine is now 60 per cent red and 40 per cent white.

His domaine is young, but the name is old. There has been Fornerots in Saint-Aubin for more than 500 years, but Domaine Jérôme Fornerot only saw the light of day in 2004.

Saint-Aubin, Burgundy.– I worked at my parents domaine for ten years. Then I did my military service somewhere halfway through that period. But I did not quite feel there was a future for me at the family domaine. I did not see myself being able to try new things or develop anything there.

Around this time he came across Domaine Jean Meney in Santenay. The owner had mainly been selling in bulk and around 2000 the market was down, so he felt it was time to retire.

– In 2004 selling wine was difficult. Initially I took on four and a half hectares of his vineyards, mainly in Santenay and Maranges. Three years later I took on the remaining two hectares of the domaine. In 2014 I bought some parcels of Hautes-Côtes de Beaune located here in Saint-Aubin and the year after I bought two parcels of village appellation Saint-Aubin. In total I had seven and a half hectares by then.

Saint-Aubin, Burgundy.– I had a very tough start. In 2005 half of the domaine was hailed and I lost 80 per cent of the harvest in those parcels. 2004 was a very difficult vintage to sell. There was more hail in 2007. Less than in 2005, but there was still damage. The market was down in 2008 and 2009. In 2010 we had more hail.

The Bourgogne blanc of Domaine Jérôme Fornerot is a blend of grapes from Santenay and Saint-Aubin. Two thirds from the former village and one third from the latter. The Bourgogne rouge is only from Santenay.

– The vineyards for Bourgogne blanc in Santenay and Saint-Aubin are different in character, says Jérôme Fornerot. The Saint-Aubin parcel has redder and rougher soil, while the Santenay one is sandier and deeper, and more marly. In Santenay the parcel is just below Les Charmes. It produces a white which is quite elegant, with a nice acidity and good maturity.

Jérôme Fornerot at Domaine Jérôme Fornerot in Saint-Aubin.Up until the arrival of the Domaine Jean-Charles Fornerot vineyards this year Jérôme Fornerot had relatively few Saint-Aubin vineyards. On village appellation level there was just the white Champ Tirant, which now has been joined by the red Les Argillers and the white Le Banc. All three are west of the village, further up the valley towards La Rochepot.

– Champ Tirant is just below Les Castets, says Jérôme Fornerot. It’s clay and limestone. Very white soil and the bottom part is basically just rocks. I planted these vines in 2014.

Premier cru Saint-Aubin used to be equally rare at the domaine. There was the red Sur le Sentier du Clou and tiny quantities of two white – En Remilly and Sur le Sentier du Clou, one barrel of each – bought from his father.

Les Charrons, Santenay, Burgundy.– They are very different, En Remilly and Sur le Sentier du Clou [in white], says Jérôme Fornerot. Sur le Sentier du Clou has minerality, but with roundness. En Remilly is supple and rich, with a touch of citrus. The soil is deeper in Sur le Sentier du Clou. En Remilly, where there is much less soil, suffers in dry years. I have been using 100 per cent new oak for En Remilly. The wine can support the wood. There is a good balance.

Red Saint-Aubin, both village appellation and premier cru, has to a large extent gone out of fashion. Three quarters are white and there are still vineyards being replanted. Pinot noir is being uprooted in favour of chardonnay.

Saint-Aubin, Burgundy.– You have parcels in Saint-Aubin which were planted after WWII up until the 1970s when there was a greater demand for the reds, says Jérôme Fornerot. Even if the whites were better people here planted pinot noir. Those vines are now becoming old. They are suffering from diseases and they are producing less. Today, even if you have a very good red Saint-Aubin no-one is prepared to pay for it.

Jérôme Fornerot points out certain parts which are superior for red Saint-Aubin. There is the slope between the village of Saint-Aubin and the hamlet of Gamay, where you have lieux-dits such as Sur le Sentier du Clou and Les Perrières. Up behind Gamay you also have Les Champlots and Sur Gamay.

Saint-Aubin, Burgundy.– If you have a good parcel and take it easy with the extraction you can make a very nice red Saint-Aubin, says Jérôme Fornerot.

The Santenay reds are different, considerably more sturdy. The two village appellation Sanatenays of the domaine – Sous la Roche and Les Charmes – are on opposite sides of the village. The premier cru, Santenay Beauregard, is on the Chassagne-Montrachet side of the village.

– In Beauregard you have the windmill at the bottom of our parcel, says Jérôme Fornerot. The vines are close to 60 years old and the yield is still good. Always good maturity there. Yo have stony red soil, with a band of rock in the middle. The rock is never far away. You touch it all the time when you plough.

Sous la Roche is at the top of the slope, just above the premier cru Beaurepaire. Jérôme Fornerot has a big parcel up there. One hectare of pinot noir and a small parcel of chardonnay, which produced its first harvest in 2018.

– The pinot noir vines are 50 years old. The yield is not very high. It is part clay, part red stony soil. This is also a place where you should avoid too much extraction. It is all about suppleness and fruit.

– Santenay Les Charmes is quite the opposite. This one has marked tannins. It is a wine where you can use extraction. It has more body and you need to let it age for a few years in bottle. Les Charmes is just below Clos Rousseau. Two thirds are old vines – 70 years old – and the rest is young vines – 15 years old. While Sous la Roche is red fruits this is back fruits. Les Charmes has more character.

© 2019 Ola Bergman