Burgundy Bliss under $40

Sloping vineyards are signature of classic Burgundian terroir

“From an overall quality perspective, I would go so far as to say that out of the triumvirate of 2009, 2010 and 2011 that 2009 is in third place, 2011 in second and 2010 is in first. – Burghound on the 2010 vintage in Burgundy

The wines of Burgundy are complex, compelling and at times, mezmorizing.  Nothing quite compares in aroma and flavor to a great red Burgundy, especially those of the recent 2010 vintage.  These wines have a respected reputation deriving from a region of small vineyards of mixed ownership and a relatively modest scale of production.  When winemakers talk about Burgundy, they generally speak of terroir (the compilation of vineyard soil, slope, orientation, nuance of climate, etc).  The combination of soil quality, slope and climatic condition essentially determines whether the wine will be categorized as Village, Premier Cru or Grand Cru.  Burgundian grapes which thrive at the summit of selective slopes will have completely different personalities than those born in the valleys below.

Vignobles_bourgogneThe Burgundy region is merely a couple of hundred miles northeast of Bordeaux and just as Bordeaux wines are identified by “Chateaux,” Burgundy wines are typically classified by “Domaines.”  Sommeliers and restaurateurs gravitate towards Burgundy because it is one of the world’s most versatile and complex wines that pairs beautifully with a variety of cuisines while satisfying the most discerning palates.  Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes dominate this legendary strip of land, both achieving their greatest elegance when planted in the region’s cool climates.  Although Burgundy is home to some of the most expensive wines in the world, there are quality producers who deliver wines of wonderful value.  In this article, we highlight two red Burgundy wines from the 2010 vintage that express the vibrant fruit, earth and spice of the region.  Both of the wines listed below exude true Burgundian finesse without the hefty price tag.

juillot-mercureyDomaine Michel Juillot Mercurey Premier Cru ‘Clos des Barraults’ 2010 ($34)

Deep within Mercurey you will find the Michel Juillot Estate which is nestled within the famous Cote Chalonnaise region of France. The Michel Julliot Estate has existed for four generations and cultivates vines producing a large selection of the best “climats” Mercurey has to offer.  Michel and Laurent Juillot’s wines are offered in several Michelin star restaurants and by the many prizes and medals they have been awarded, the Estate’s production singularly demonstrates a philosophy of quality upheld by a family of wine makers who not only admire, but also respect their terroir.  Although the region is not home to any Grand Cru vineyards, this Bourgogne territory produces tremendously high quality pinot noir at exceptional values.  Aside from Michel Juillot, other top producers from the Mercurey region of the Cote Chalonnaise include Domaine Faiveley and Domaine De Suremain.

Juillot’s Clos des Barraults truly boasts the qualities that make the 2010 Burgundy vintage so spectacular.  Located in Juillot’s top parcel, delicate pinot grapes grow on 40+ year old vines which are planted in clay and limestone soil.  After spending 18 months in oak barrel, the wine is deep in ruby color with pretty violet-blue highlights. Delicate yet apparent aromas of cherry and currant hit the nose.  This is an earthy yet elegant wine which infuses the palate with bright raspberry and figs, followed by tobacco leaf spice. A bit tight at first but quickly develops into a revitalizing wine of complexity and energy.  Juillot Barrault has a reputation for aging well for a decade or more.  At the modest price point of $34, we recommend buying two bottles – one for now, the other for later.  830 cases produced.

Decanting time: 15-30 min

Drinking window: 2013-2020

Recommended Food Pairing: Spice Crusted Duck Breast with Orange-Honey Glaze and Cumin Scented Carrots (Chef Eric Ripert)

Recommended Glassware Pairing: Riedel Burgundy (Pinot Noir) Glassware (Set of 2 $69)

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photo-87Domaine de Montille Bourgogne 2010 ($35)

Domaine de Montille is not only one of the greatest domaines in Burgundy, but one of the greatest domaines in all of France.  Proudly referring to Volnay as their hometown, the de Montille family roots can be traced back to the 17th century.  Wisdom and elegance are tasted in each and every one of their stylistic wines, whether the wine is from a Grand Cru or, in this case, simply Bourgogne.  Hubert de Montille is a purist, so the family tends to avoid recipes in their winemaking, and instead prefer to adapt from year to year.  They are firm believers in respecting the authenticity of terroir by making wines of moderate alcohol, elegance and refined aromatic purity.  According to Etienne, “my father is a man of character and taste.  He very quickly understood that what he wanted to do was to make wines that he loved, not necessarily wines that would sell easily.  His wines are not technical or round.  On the contrary, they are authentic and improve with time, even if, on occasion, they can seem pretentious in their first flush of youth.  The wines of Hubert de Montille have personality.”

The Domaine de Montille Bourgogne is a light-to-medium bodied wine with multi-dimentional structure.  Nuances of ripe nectarine, cranberry and plum balance effortlessly in the glass.  Tannin emerges a bit more in each sip, as well as chamomile, mushroom and bitter herbs.  What is most noteworthy of this value Burgundy is it’s impeccable purity and balance despite it’s young age.  Of course it will taste better in the years to come, but nonetheless, it is drinking most beautifully now.  250 cases produced. RMH

Decanting time: 15-30 min

Drinking window: 2013-2020

Recommended Food Pairing: Chicken Bouillabaisse (Chef Eric Ripert)

Recommended Glassware Pairing: Riedel Burgundy (Pinot Noir) Glassware (Set of 2 $69)

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