This second generation old estate is located in the town of Davayé, in southern Burgundy. The winery was founded by Maurice Martin in 1969. His son Richard took it over in 1990 and was joined by his brother Stéphane in 1992. While Richard takes care of the vinification and the sales, Stéphane is in charge of the vineyard. They sell 80% of their production in bottle and 20% to negociants. Currently, they export 40% of their wine outside of France.
"Domaine de la Croix Senaillet" takes its name from a cross that had been given by an ancient mayor of the village called Benoit Senaillet. The records show that the mayor donated the cross to Davayé in 1866 to replace the one that was destroyed in 1793 during the French Revolution. According to the common believes, the cross that was blessed in 1867 would protect the inhabitants of the village and everyone that would pass by.
VINEYARDS PASSING FROM FATHER TO SON
Maurice Martin settled in Davayé and then fully devoted his life to the vines from 1969. Due to his unfailing doggedness, a really strong character, with his wife and family to back him up, without whom nothing would have been possible, the family estate slowly grew. Today it covers a unique stretch of 60 plots of vines with an average age of around 30 years old on all the slopes of the village.
After training hard at ground level his sons, Richard and Stéphane Martin, took over the estate in 1992, bringing with them new blood, new ideas and a single watchword; quality. Stéphane’s responsibility is the vines - he allows the soils and terroir to come through and give their best, resulting in grapes that are of the finest that the Saint-Véran Cru appellation can give. The cellar - that was built in 1989 - was modernized in 2000-2002, then in 2007-2008 with the supervision of Richard.
Richard’s approach to vinification is refined year after year. Today his and Stéphane’s style, the alliance of a feel for the earth and a dynamic commercial outlook, is what makes the Domaine de la Croix Senaillet unique.
The vineyards are located on the south/southeastern slopes of the Solutre and Vergisson rocks. The estate spreads over 60 parcels in the town of Davayé and measures 22 hectares total (54.3 acres): 17 ha in St Véran, 5 ha in Mâcon, less than 1 hectare in Pouilly-Fuisse. The soil is both chalk and clay. The vines are 40 years old on average. In order to increase the quality of the grapes, Stephane has decided to use "culture raisonnée", which means that they watch carefully and daily the vineplant, checking for the sanitary level in the vineyard and use very small amount of pesticide and chemical products if necessary.
Saint Veran's AOC represents 696 hectares (1,726 acres) in total. The total production for the AOC is around 42,775 hectoliters (474,089 twelve-bottle-case equivalent)
The approach is essentially pragmatic: better fruit to develop better wines. Since the 90s, the Martin brothers, supporters of sustainable agriculture, protect their vines with a minimum treatment strategy to maintain healthy vines, no pollution, with respect to long-term vision. Thus, conversion to organic viticulture began in 2003 in a personal way becoming official in 2006 with a commitment from a certifying body. From 2010 all of the vintage is certified wine from organic grapes. This method without synthetic pesticides or chemical fertilizers, can fully complete the environmental objective of the field. A glance in the vineyards shows that earthworms and insects citizenship around the different species of plants that grow near the vines. In viticulture, the preventive work is crucial, says Stephen. Based on observation, the soil depth work on strengthening the resistance of plants on the control of yields, the use of natural products..., the approach strengthens year by year the expression of terroir in wines: the whole meaning of Appellations of Origin, claimed the estate.
"Following on from their impressive set of 2011s, Domaine de la Croix Senaillet have another excellent portfolio in 2012, the first vintage to be certified biodynamic by ECOCERT. The fruit here was harvested from September 7-28. Winemaker Richard Martin told me that he found his 2012s to be richer than the 2011s, although the introduction of biodynamie meant that he now has to keep a closer eye on pH levels. The best wines from Domaine de la Croix Senaillet cluster around Saint Véran, in particular Les Rochats and the standout Sur La Carrière. - Neal Martin"
- Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate (Issue 215, October 2014)