I'VE BEEN WAITING OVER TWO YEARS TO TRY THESE RED BURGUNDIES
Samantha had been telling me how bad things were for wine growers in Burgundy. Due to hail, floods, frost and other calamities, these farmers would only be able to produce a fraction of their normal output. Not just in one year, but three or four consecutive vintages.
And then there was Covid.
The growers we work with are not employees of Parisian insurance companies or big corporations; they are farmers who probably inherited their land from their fathers and grandfathers. Making 25% of normal production means they may not be able to service their bank loans. Two or three years of this may mean they have to sell their family plots to pay their taxes.
And here we sit bitching that we didn't get a full allocation for our customers. Due to the pandemic, when our tasting room was dark for two-and-a-half years, we didn't open many red Burgundies (or any other iconic wines) as we would have if we were hosting the expected full-houses at our Friday night tastings.
This was good for our Burgundy customers, because it meant there would be fewer depletions of Chambolle-Musigny and Gevrey Chambertin and Pommard. Since we needed every bottle for our retail customers, we could manage pretty well without the pent-up demand that unleashes itself after every Friday tasting.
But now it's different. There is renewed interest in red Burgundies as the holidays approach, and there are a lot of our customers who will be attending our red Burgundy tastings, so what will happen to our stocks when we can't replenish them?
This, I know, sounds like a rather crude get 'em while you can ploy, but the shortage is real--not just a temporary supply-chain issue. In preparation for our first big red Burgundy tasting after our re-opening, I ran through quite a few wines I needed brushing up on. Some are extremely limited and I expect they'll be sold out soon.
Earlier, I posted my thoughts on some of our more affordable red Burgundies. READ HERE
Now I'm profiling wines I researched for our Burgundy tasting. Here are my notes:
I was rather surprised when I first drank this wine. Expecting a light-bodied afterthought, I was met instead with a full-bodied, in-your-face, ripe Pinot, a lot bigger than I thought it’d be.
$33.99 per bottle
There is a lightly wild aspect to the aroma, call it feral. This medium-weight red Burgundy doesn’t try to be the flashiest guy on the block, even though there is generous fruit in the bottle. All in all, you know you are not in Kansas when drinking this wine.
$44.99 per bottle
Domaine Bruno Clair made its stellar reputation for producing the finest Marsannay in its appellation. After acquiring great parcels in other parts of the Côte d’Or, the domaine just keeps increasing its prestige with every vintage. Fill your nose with the deep Burgundian aroma and you’ll know this right away this isn’t from the Russian River Valley. Medium-to-full bodied, with a satisfying texture framed by firm tannins and a light oakiness in the finish. Most impressive are the deeper cherry flavors in the wine.
$111.99 per bottle
We’ve been enamored of this Kermit Lynch standard for the entire history of our store. Darker colored, with a richly viscous appearance, the flavor is equally rich, with good weight and generous flavors framed by firm tannins. The forward cherry flavors are especially tasty in the finish.
$57.99 per bottle
Narbantons has historically been my favorite bottling from Camus-Bruchon because of its accessible forward generosity. The 2019 is another wonderful creation. Pretty, translucent appearance and an equally pretty perfume of characteristic black cherry. The juicy, fruity flavor is nothing short of delightful. Enjoy this now or hold for five or more years.
$45.99 per bottle
There are a myriad of layers in the complex aroma—lightly smoky, bacon, stewed tomatoes, cocoa, perhaps—in this old-school Burgundy. Developing quickly, the wine is showing some complex savory notes, finishing dry.
$45.99 per bottle
I don’t quite know what to make of this wine, but I can’t turn it away. The aroma is one of the more intriguing features of this wine, one that cannot be pinned down to merely cherry or plum or wildness. Round in the mouth, the flavor is equally complex, finishing with some firm tannins. It remains a mystery whether age will bring out more of the beauty or the beast.
$82.99 per bottle
Rossignol’s newest village Volnay is showing pretty well at this young age, but will benefit even more with a few years’ bottle age. The clean aroma is just the beginning; full-bodied in the mouth, with a solid core of fruit. The finish is a bit tight, but some airing and perhaps time in the cellar should relax this wine quite a bit.
$85.99 per bottle
Bouvier usually produces fruit forward Noir-ish Burgundies, both from its Bourgogne rouge and this old vine wine. Imported by Kermit Lynch, this vintage is less in-your-face than most, a situation that requires a bit of airing to bring out the aroma, which is clean right now. Tightly structured, yet correct with a steely structure, this wine should improve over the next five years, releasing some of its bound up goodness.
$36.99 per bottle
Situated near the northernmost hillsides of the Côtes du Nuits, Fixin usually offers perfunctory reds, but in this case, a surprising amount of in-your-face fruit. The dark, opaque color gives way to an aroma of stewed cherries, followed by a generous mouthful of bold, very full-bodied fruit. Surprisingly deep and giving for a Fixin.
$67.99 per bottle
The extra couple of years of bottle age have allowed this wine to develop some secondary aromas and flavors. Medium weight framed by firm tannins, this wine offers more soulful character than younger wine off the shelf.
$81.99 per bottle
Why is Gevrey Chambertin one of the most reliable appellations of Burgundy? Who knows for sure, but Domaine Tawse is certainly demonstrating the greatness of its village wine with this bottle. The perfume is pretty and clean, the generous flavor is made up of solid black cherry flavors, giving the wine a most satisfying character.
$74.99 per bottle
Marchand-Tawse has been a favorite producer of our Burgundy-loving customers for many vintages, and this village wine demonstrates why. A deeper aroma keeps reeling you in, and the flavor doesn’t disappoint, either. It is a fairly big wines with a ripe slightly saline finish.
$71.99 per bottle
Of the many great parcels of this estate, Pezerolles has a special place in Etienne De Montille’s heart. There is a lightly woodsy aroma here, followed by complex juicy flavors. The volume is weighty, but appropriate for an elite bottling. A very solid effort by this legendary producer.
$136.99 per bottle
The nose needs a little airing to allow the reduction to resolve, but once it does, there is a solid flavor with a bold finish.
$91.99 per bottle
I must admit, I am attracted to this appellation for its red wines as much as its more famous whites. The reason is its sheer prettiness. This version has a transluscent ruby color, with a very pretty perfume suggesting light red and black cherries. Round in the mouth, with a medium-to-full weight, there is a flavor that reminds me of a hard candy of my youth, maybe cherry, maybe strawberry. A firm tannic grip in the finish frames the fruit quite well.
$61.99 per bottle
This wine demonstrates the power of Pommard, the most forward of all red Burgundies south of Beaune. Opaque in appearance, and equally dense in flavor, it is a ripe, developing wine that offers a new feature with every sniff, every sip.
$67.99 per bottle
There are always elevated expectations when approaching Grand Cru Burgundies, and I am happy to report that Marchand-Tawse’s 2018 red Corton lives up to them. Nearly opaque in appearance, and sporting a lovely black cherry aroma and flavor, the wine possesses plenty of depth, with firm tannins framing the wine. What sets it apart, though, is its long, long finish—a lingering flavor of perfectly ripe Bing cherries.
$144.99 per bottle