White Burgundy Values!
- Melanie Wong
Sunday afternoon eight of us sat down to evaluate 12 white burgundy wines of recent vintages. "Value" is not a word often associated with wines from Burgundy, yet I found six of these I'd recommend as good buys at their price points. Here are some brief notes in order of price:
2002 Chablis Cote de Lechet 1er cru, La Chablisienne (Costco), $17 - Light straw hue, floral aromas and flavors mingled with banana, lemon curd and minerals, riper and broader expression than typical with oak influence obscuring any flinty/steely elements, some creamy/buttery notes of partial MLF, rounded mid-palate yet not that complex at this stage, made in a new world more forward style without the verve of classic chablis, moderate finish. VERY GOOD/ BEST BUY
2003 Bourgogne Blanc, Domaine Roulot (importer: Kermit Lynch, Berkeley), $29 - Guy Roulot is one of the giants of Meursault and it's rare to taste one of his masterpieces for under $80. In the very hot 2003 vintage, his entry level Bourgogne blanc is a ringer for very good quality Meursault AC and can best many premier crus from less esteemed producers. Medium straw hue, very ripe and fruity nose some minerals, buttered pears, brioche and vanilla oak shadings, fat entry, medium-full body with remarkable concentration yet very finessed, beautifully integrated now with slightly warm alcohol, not complex or layered but hits a single deeply resonant and masterful note that speaks volumes. EXCELLENT minus/BEST BUY
2002 Ladoix 1er cru "Les Grechons", Betrand Ambroise (importer: Bobby Kacher), $29 - This is a little known premier cru in the shadow of its grand cru neighbor that in Ambroise's hands is referred to as mini-Corton Charlemagne. Medium yellow hue, overtly charry new oak nose of medium toast leading to bountiful candied fruit and chalky minerality, somewhat closed on the palate with less apparent oak and better integration than the nose, heavy and chunky personality, full fanning finish. EXCELLENT minus
2000 Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos, Auffrey (importer: Kermit Lynch, Berkeley), $55 - This was my first experience with Auffrey, who appears to be a traditional style of producer. Our group was polarized on this wine with one oak-phobe declaring it his favorite of the day while someone else found it uninteresting and lemon Pledge-like. At nearly six years of age still extremely youthful, tight and compact on the nose and palate, taut and vibrant acidity for a steely, flinty and lemony tart impression at this stage, highly extracted and weighty but not expressive now, no overt oak, well-balanced with a notably long and clean finish. EXCELLENT
2002 Chassagne-Montrachet 1er cru "Les Chauminees", Marc Colin-Deleger (importer: Kermit Lynch, Berkeley), $67 - My favorite producer of C-M didn't let us down. Lemon yellow hue, initial nose of toasted brioche opens with aeration to reveal exotic tropical fruits, lemon zest and stony terroir notes, totally seamless on the palate with ripe and intense fruits in perfect balance with medium-high fruity acidity and moderate alcohol, restrained and deep personality, complicated and beguiling with deep swathes of fruit and minerals gliding to a long lingering finish. EXCELLENT plus
2002 Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru, Rapet et Fils (importer: Wine House, San Francisco), $70 - Another first taste experience with a producer, and it will not be my last. In an Olympic trial of Corton-Charlies, I'm confident this wine could stand its ground with more expensive producers charging up to twice the price. Medium straw hue, generously proportioned nose with layers of citrusy fruit, chalky minerality and floral vanilla highlights, terroir-driven personality with judicious use of new oak, heavy-bodied with excellent carriage and poise, many dimensions of very rich and nuanced flavors growing deeper and more complex with time in the glass, great balance and harmony of dense fruit extract, mouthwatering acidity, moderate oak tones and medium alcohol in check, voluminous and mouth-filling, very complete and satisfying through full and long finish. OUTSTANDING minus/BEST BUY
i know there are lots of folks who have come to turn their noses up at chardonnay and relegate it to picnic wine status. yet the roulot, the CM, and the CC we tasted here hint at the magnificence possible from this grape when placed in the hands of those who have tended it longest. i have always felt that these can be the greatest dry white wines in the world.
so rather than write off an entire varietal after having one too many oak bombs, let us hope that the new world's wine producers continue in their efforts to find organic expressions of the fruit of their vinyards.
i think the 'chablisienne' offers a good opportunity to try a more classic style of chardonnay at a very comfortable price point and with broad availability. i've seen it at a couple costcos for 17 bucks.