We found Sylvain Pataille by chance at the 2010 Grand Jours de Bourgogne Exhibition at his stand in the hall featuring producers from Gevrey and Marsannay. There, we bumped into some friends from the trade who spoke excitedly about this producer Sylvain Pataille from Marsannay. They said, "you must try his wines" and so we did. It did not take long to find Sylvain's stand as a crowd 2 man-deep had gathered at his stand. In the middle stood this cherubic curly haired gentleman busy pouring wines into glasses held out by a swarm of outstretched arms and I jostled for a pour as well and gosh they were right. The wines are delicious and it wasn't even from a great vintage.

Sylvain Pataille makes wines exclusively from the terroirs of Marsannay-la-Côte. After studying in Bordeaux, he became a very successful consulting enologist who counts several super-star domaines as his clients. He started his own domaine with one hectare with his first vintage being in 2001. Today, he farms 10 hectares producing up to a dozen cuvees from Aligote to Marsannay Blanc, Rouge as well as Rose.

Sylvain's vinification philosophy is be as natural and as simple as possible. Natural yeasts are used, no enzymes added and fermentation temperatures of around 32°C maximum. The wines are vinified in a mix of stainless-steel and fibre-glass before going into oak casks. Sylvain likes his wines to show their fruit and possess their individual character. His wines offers great pleasure and give wines made from more prestigious sites a serious run for the money. 

He is a warm and affectionate guy who welcome you with open arms. All we can say is that he was filled with enthusiasm about his wines and his vineyards. He is obviously very proud of his work and the quality of his wines. When he showed his wines from barrel, they were masculine, bold, powerful and full of fruit. Yet it was not over extracted and the different cuvees showed different characteristics. These wines are serious enough to demand at least a few years in the cellar to show its full potential and Burgundy lovers will drink very well with his range without paying a pretty penny for his wines. I am also quite certain that they will do quite well in a blind tasting against more expensive bottles made from more prestigious vineyards. Since 2010, his fame has spread rapidly and he has gotten the attention of the wine press. 

It is perhaps interesting to note that the wines of Marsannay once enjoyed an excellent reputation, with certain vineyards having a classification equivalent to certain Grands Crus before the 19th century. However, the widespread planting of Gamay between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th ruined its reputation. Things started to change after World War Two with the reintroduction of Pinot Noir coupled with intensive work in the vineyards and greatly improved wine making techniques. With a new generation of dedicated winemakers like Sylvain Pataille and several others producing great stuff from Marsannay, the appellation is rapidly reestablishing its former glory.

It is also worthy to mention that the winegrowers in Marsannay, have applied to modify the classification of some of its plots; taking advantage of this to deepen their understanding of the appellation' soils and subsoils. This means that some of Sylvain Pataille's vineyards in Marsannay may be re-classified as Premier Crus and given their choice location. So start stocking up on the wines from the top producers in Marsannay before prices start to climb when the re classification takes place.