For many Americans, living the ‘French dream’ means living in a swanky Parisian apartment or turquoise Mediterranean waters; but for Chris Santini, the small Burgundian village of Auxey-Duresses was just the ticket. Living in a town with a population of just 300, Santini works part-time managing Kermit Lynch’s Beaune office, and part-time making wine at his namesake project, seeking to bring a little bit of Burgundy back to his old stomping grounds of the United States.
Chris Santini comes from French and American blood, with roots in Tunisia, Corsica and the USA where he grew up. Spending every summer in France as a child, he decided to work his first harvest in Provence at age 20. He fell in love, and after finishing his Oenology studies at the University of Beaune, he spent years working all over Burgundy for both big domaines and small, where he eventually landed his dream gig – working for the legendary (and infamous) American wine importer Kermit Lynch.
‘The Auxey-Collective” started as a négociant winemaking project, in a cuverie located 10 kilometres from the city centre of Beaune, an ancient walled town at the very centre of Burgundy wine mecca, Côte-d’Or. Santini’s spirit mirrors his wines, courageous and lively, having never started with a business plan, nor any kind of plan at all really, besides making wines he wanted to drink himself and making them naturally and accessible to all (in both taste and price) and having fun in the process.
His focus is on producing “vins de soif” – wine made to quench your thirst and be consumed with fervour. The fruit is sourced from interesting and unique terroirs that are off the beaten track in Burgundy, Beaujolais and vinous French country.
After years of travelling and tasting with Kermit all over France, he got the itch to start making wine again and released his first commercial vintage from his friend Christophe Pacalet’s cellar in 2013. Since then he has moved to his own space in Auxey-Duresses, a hundred year old cuverie that has never seen commercial enzymes or yeasts. He coined his winery ‘The Auxey-Collective’ as his cuverie is home to a collection of young winemakers producing their wine there under the same curved roof as the Santini brothers. They now call this added endeavour, begun with the 2016 vintage, “The Santini Collective”.
His focus is on producing “vins de soif” – wine made to quench your thirst and be consumed with fervour. The fruit is sourced from interesting and unique terroirs that are off the beaten track in Burgundy, Beaujolais and vinous French country. They partner with honest and environmentally conscious growers to bring in organic fruit with their ultimate goal to produce accessible, naturally made, easy drinking wines – the same types of wines their Corsican and French ancestors have been slurping for generations.
All the wines are vinified with native yeast and have no sulphur added until bottling. No other additives or manipulations are used at any time and the wines are bottled unfined and unfiltered. So far vinification on reds has been done entirely using whole cluster fermentations with the goal always to be terroir driven, light but aromatic, fruit driven wines. Chris favours infusion over extraction techniques avoiding aggressive pumping and heating during vinification. Whites and reds are aged in a combination of old barrels and fibreglass tanks. All the wines are made in extremely small quantities. This is a rare find.