Domaine Françoise & Denis Clair is located in the village of Santenay. Denis Clair, quick with a laugh and a textbook bon vivant, created the domaine in 1986 with 12 acres of Pinot Noir vines in Santenay coming from Denis Clair’s family, who were vignerons there for many generations, selling most of their production to négociants, until Denis set out to bottle his own wine. Over time they added parcels of Chardonnay, mainly from the neighboring AOP village of St.-Aubin (2 1/2 miles to the northwest) – the birthplace of Francoise. In 2000, their son and current winemaker Jean-Baptiste joined the family business and they have since then expanded production. The family now farms 37 acres (65% red and 35% white) and produces approximately 75,000 bottles annually at their winery in Saint Aubin.
Most of the Clairs’ 9 hectares of Santenay vines are for reds. The soil here is terre blanche—limestone and crushed limestone, along with some clay, but deeper and with a higher percentage of clay than those of Saint-Aubin. The couple used proceeds from their terrain in Santenay to buy and rent Chardonnay parcels in Saint-Aubin, where they own 5 hectares.
No herbicides or pesticides are employed. The soils are worked with a plow so that they can limit their use of weed killer. An effort is made to work as organically as possible, but in very rainy years, like 2012 and 2013, some synthetic sprays are employed. The wines are fermented using only indigenous yeasts. The reds are punched down and pumped over. All of the wines go through malolactic fermentation. The whites are fined and lightly filtered. The reds are lightly filtered, if necessary. Only one bottling is done per year at the domaine, normally 15 to 18 months after the harvest.
"A very united, generous family with good taste and beautiful vines on the best terroirs of Saint-Aubin and Santenay. All of this explains the success this domaine has achieved over some twenty years." — Bettane et Desseauve Le Classement des Meilleurs Vins de France 2010
Wine AdvocateThe 2016 Santenay Clos Genet unfurls in the glass with notes of cassis, smoky plums and forest floor. On the palate, it's medium to full-bodied, deep and nicely concentrated, with a lovely core of wild, briary fruit, fine structuring tannins and racy acids. This is an excellent Santenay village that carries a decidedly modest price tag.