This is my (long overdue) second submission to the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge (my first was #MWWC6 – Mystery back in January 2014).
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)
Le 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)
Le 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)
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!