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Saint-Aubin Premier Cru

Saint-Aubin Premier Cru wines are those produced under the strictest conditions of the Saint-Aubin appellation, in the Côte de Beaune sub-region of Burgundy.

Around three-quarters of the wines made in Saint-Aubin are premier cru, produced from nearly 320 acres (130ha) of officially classified sites on sheltered, limestone-rich hillsides. This is a particularly high proportion of premier cru land to find in any one commune – topped only by Beaune and Vougeot.

The high percentage of premiers crus in Saint-Aubin is a direct consequence of the local topography. Saint-Aubin is nestled in a narrow sub-valley of the Côte d'Or escarpment, and good vineyard sites here are more limited than on the gentle slopes and plains just to the east. However, the land that is suitable is capable of producing wines of high quality. The slopes surrounding the village form a natural amphitheatre – its sides arcing from south-west to south-east – interrupted only by the village of Gamay (after which the Gamay grape variety is named). This topography affords the Saint-Aubin's vines prolonged daily exposure to all available sunshine – a vital bonus in Burgundy's marginal continental climate. The local soils and sub-strata are also well suited to both of the grape varieties grown here (Chardonnay for whites and Pinot Noir for reds).

The vineyards just east of Gamay village are particularly suited to Chardonnay, as they occupy the western side of the Mont-Rachet – the hill that gives its name to Burgundy's famous Montrachet Grand Cru white wines. The only significant difference between the two sides of the hill is their aspect. The eastern half of the Mont-Rachet faces south and south-east, capitalising on the ripening rays of the sun in the morning and early afternoon. The western half misses out on this early sunshine, but it stays sunlit until the end of the day – an advantage in cool years in particular. However, a major drawback is that the west-facing vines are unprotected from the sometimes oppressive heat of the afternoon sun.

Because of its high suitability for growing Chardonnay – and the increasing popularity of the white wines from neighbouring Puligny-Montrachet and Chassagne-Montrachet – Saint-Aubin has made an about-turn in its grape variety of choice. It used to be famous for its rustic reds (which comprised three-quarters of its production), but now white wines make up nearly 80% of the appellation's output.

The official classification of the Saint-Aubin's premier cru climats dates back to February 1977. The fact that it was one of the earliest in the area may explain the large number of its premier cru sites. Had the land been rated in the context of the superior sites just down the valley in Puligny and Chassagne, the bar might have been set a little higher.

Saint-Aubin's 30 premier cru climats are:

- Bas de Vermarain à l'Est
- Derrière Chez Edouard
- Derrière la Tour
- Echaille
- En Créot
- En la Ranché
- En Montceau
- En Remilly
- En Vollon à l'Est
- Es Champs
- La Chatenière
- Le Bas de Gamay à l'Est
- Le Charmois
- Le Puits
- Les Castets
- Les Champlots
- Les Combes
- Les Combes au Sud
- Les Cortons
- Les Frionnes
- Les Murgers des Dents de Chien
- Les Perrières
- Les Travers de Marinot
- Marinot
- Pitangeret
- Sous Roche Dumay
- Sur Gamay
- Sur le Sentier du Clou
- Vignes Moingeon
- Village

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