Opinion, Tasting Events

#MWWC19 CHOICE – How to Choose a Burgundy?

wine-stain1-3-300x300This is my (long overdue) second submission to the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge (my first was #MWWC6 – Mystery back in January 2014).

If you enjoy a variety of writing styles and subjects, all linked in someway to wine, then follow the central MWWC Blog founded and run by Jeff aka The Drunken Cyclist.

This month’s theme was set by Elizabeth of Travelling Wine Chick who won #MWWC18.

Many things have been said about Burgundy, many of which are true, but not all of them are true all of the time. 

One that remains a permanent feature of the region is complexity.  Burgundy is a veritable minefield, leaving many people – even knowledgeable wine aficionados – somewhat bewildered – there’s so much CHOICE!  And given many of the prices, the wrong choice could prove costly and disappointing…

Even more than Bordeaux, Burgundy wines are sold on the strength of their appellation. But with so many producers in each appellation, is this a reliable guide to quality? In a word: no!  Because there are so few quality checks to make the grade in each appellation, producers can trade on the name without necessarily concerning themselves with quality. For me, this is the main drawback of the whole AOC system.

But what about upsides?  Many wine aficionados regard (especially red) Burgundy as the Holy Grail of wine, something that transcends a mere beverage and becomes life-affirming.  I sometimes wonder if mastering the complexity is part of the attraction, whether that’s joy at an achievement or membership of some elitist club (those that get Burgundy).

Question: As it can take a life’s work to become intimately familiar with the area, how else could one navigate a way through the minefield of Burgundy?

Answer: Trust an excellent wine importer or wine merchant to advise you and help you with your choice.

Almost a year ago I was privileged to attend an excellent Burgundy tasting, courtesy of Le Caveau, a wine importer, wholesaler and online retailer based in Kilkenny.  I enjoyed every wine I tried, at quite different price points.  However, looking back on my notes it is obvious which wines were among the best, as I was almost struck dumb – my tasting notes for some are incredibly short and to the point.

For illustration, here are just a few of the excellent wines I tasted, with Le Caveau’s notes and my own.

Domaine Larue Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru “La Garenne” 2010 (2013: €49.90, Le Caveau)

Garenne 2Le Caveau: Light intensity on the nose with baked apple, spice, a touch of fudge or caramel. Dry, light bodied, open, fresh acidity, finishes with a really fresh grip of minerality. Med + finish length.

Frankly Wines: Nectar of the gods.  What do I need to sell to afford more of this?

Henri et Gilles Buisson Meursault “Les Chevalières” 2011 (€51.25, Le Caveau)

Meursault 2Le Caveau: 60 + year old vines in the lieu-dit of Les Chevalieres. A little muted on the nose at first, but the palate blossoms with ripe, peachy fruit, white flowers, gently toasted bread crusts and grilled almonds. Rounded, slightly buttery and ripe, with a long persistent acidity and finish.

Frankly Wines: Special, on another level from most other white wine.

Maison Ambroise Nuits-St-Georges “Haut Pruliers” 2010 (€46.35, Le Caveau)

Nuits-St-Georges 2

Le Caveau: Les Haut Pruliers vineyards are located on a very steep slope, just above Nuits Saint Georges 1er Cru ‘Pruliers’, at the top of the Nuits hill and at the limit of the forest. Hauts Pruliers has an enticing nose of lightly spiced, creamy black berries. The multi-layered palate shows great complexity, with flavours of red and black berries mingling with more serious gamey notes.

Frankly Wines: F**k me, that’s what it’s all about!




So as you can see, when it comes to both your trusted merchant and reviewer of fine wine, choice is very important!

34 thoughts on “#MWWC19 CHOICE – How to Choose a Burgundy?”

  1. Love it. Best tasting notes I have seen in ages.
    Guess I was lucky to be around when you could visit Burgundy and buy some big names for not too much. Sadly fashion means I can’t any longer. So you’re right finding new or unknown producers is a route to securing my personal favourite wines. A trusted merchant is invaluable.

    1. My only visit to the region was a brief overnight stop in Chablis on the way back from Alsace – I know Bordeaux far better. The wines I listed aren’t cheap, but (for the Irish market) represent good value, which is not something often said about Burgundy!

  2. Sorry, trying to type a comment on the phone… Having trusted wine merchant is invaluable when it comes to all wines – and I agree that Burgundy might be even double that, as one simply can’t afford ($ literally) to make a mistake…

  3. Fantastic! I attended a Maison Trimbach Grand Cru Riesling vertical tasting last Monday at TexSom including 12 wines dating back to 1976. I noticed 2 things about my notes: 1) the more I got into the tasting and enjoying the wines my notes got shorter; 2) I think my last few were pretty much the same as yours on the Maison Ambroise Nuits-St-Georges “Haut Pruliers” 2010. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Sounds like an amazing tasting! I love Trimbach but haven’t tasted their very top wine yet (though have a couple stashed away). Did try their Vieilles Vignes Riesling recently which was great!

  4. Ha ha I had the same experience with a Vosne Romanee at a Burgundy wine school in September where my tasting notes were “Very nice”. I think I was channelling the power of understatement as it was utterly delicious. Thankfully my wife was more effusive so borrowed some of hers!

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