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Burgundy does two things very well: Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
There are a few other varieties permitted under Burgundian wine law: the white Aligoté grape, the white Sauvignon Blanc grape (grown only in the Saint-Bris appellation), and the red Gamay grape. Gamay is used widely in Beaujolais (which is part of Burgundy) and occasionally in a Bourgogne Rouge or a Bourgogne Passetoutgrains.
These “other” grapes are used only rarely, and you will almost never find grape varieties listed on bottles of Burgundy. You can be confident that, if the wine is red, it’s probably 100% Pinot Noir, and if it’s white, it’s probably 100% Chardonnay.
If you really want to dive into the world of Burgundy wines, this Astor Center class is the perfect place to start: Wine Workshop: Burgundy for Beginners
1. Mercurey Rouge 1er Cru “Les Champs Martins,” Dom. M. Juillot – 2009
This wine is fresh and assertive on the nose, and charming on the palate. As ample as one could wish, with well-integrated wood and toasty flavors, this is a remarkably harmonious wine. Mineral-laced redcurrants fade to dark licorice flavors. Absolutely a classic vin de garde – wine to keep… or to pair with interesting dishes, like savory duck or goose. This Pinot Noir was matured for 18 months in Burgundy oak barrels, 30% new.
2. St. Romain Blanc “Combe Bazin,” Dom. Rougeot – 2009
This captivating white comes from a third-generation vigneron dedicated to creating expressive Burgundy. Through a brilliant golden robe, youthful aromas of pear, quince, apple, vanilla, and lemon curd emerge, inviting a second sip. This is the perfect wine for special-occasion fish dinners.
3. Chablis 1er Cru “Montmains,” Dom. Goulley – 2005
From a stellar, ripe vintage, this deep golden Chardonnay hits all the right notes. Ripe golden apple on the palate and nose are fleshed out against a honeyed, leesy character. Mineraled acidity keeps it distinctly Old world Chablis. Serve with buttery poultry or fish, especially with crushed toasted hazelnuts.
4. Meursault, Moissenet-Bonnard – 2007
This Meursault from Moissenet-Bonnard is defined by elegance, floral fruit, and minerals. The aromas are fresh and enticing, making this a great Burgundy to enjoy in its youth.
5. Beaune Blanc “Lulune,” Dom. des Mariaudes – 2009
The vineyard name comes from the ancient Celtic settlement (later Gallo-Roman) formerly situated at the top of a hill within the Beaune appellation near Pommard. The soils there are quite porous, made of calcareous clay interspersed with limestone. This is a racy Chardonnay, filled with sunshine-ripe golden apple, citrus, and the barest tinge of roasted nuts.
6. Mâcon-Villages, Poulet Père & Fils – 2010
Brilliant gold in color, the white floral aromas seduce on this full-bodied Chardonnay. A mélange of muscat and lemongrass open on a lush, full palate, while balanced acidity adds structure and a clean finish. Serves best at a cool 51 – 54 degrees. A white that will go well with chicken and apple sausages, sautéed onions, fish and of course, youthful to aged chèvre. The beautiful, hand-drawn label was done by French artist, Pierre LeTin. From granite-flecked vineyards of Chardonnay growing in abundant sunshine. The grapes are hand-harvested, fermented in temperature-controlled tanks
7. Bourgogne Rouge “Le Chapitre”, René Bouvier – 2009
The best under $20.00 red in the store!
Pinot Noir is versatile, joyful and one of the most pleasant reds that work beautifully with so many different foods (or by themselves as cocktail wine). The aromas that leap from this glass possess clove and black cherry and raspberry notes, alongside hints of anise seed. Additionally, the palate shows elegance that leads to a structured and dry finish. Coming from vineyards in Gevrey-Chambertin and Fixin, this Bourgogne rouge has the pedigree of a much more expensive wine, brought to you by the classicist producer René Bouvier. Bargain traditional Burgundy in my book. Pop the cork, pour a glass and take your time as this contemplative wine develops as it passes from the glass, past your lips and down your gullet.
8. Pernand-Vergelesses Blanc, Rollin – 2006
Some of the most astounding white Burgundy these days comes from lesser-known villages; for proof, taste this Chardonnay from Pernand-Vergelesses. The bouquet is impressive all by itself, showing cream notes, leesy lemon aromas, and minerals.
9. Bourgogne Passetoutgrain, Dom. Magnien – 2009
A red wine that masterfully blends the vivaciousness of Gamay with the subtlety of Pinot Noir. This agreeably fruity wine is perfect for all seasons, all moods, and all situations. The domaine works entirely by hand, without chemicals, in order to preserve the microorganisms in the soils. The goal is a balanced, expressive wine that highlights the fruit first and adds complexity thereafter.
10. Pommard 1er Cru “Les Epenots”, Moissenet-Bonnard – 2007
From one of the highly regarded Cru vineyards with aromas of pink peppercorns, spiced roses and wild berries. This Pinot balances elegance and rustic nature, with a velvet texture and lingering finish that allows this to be enjoyed with classic French cuisine like strong earthy cheese.
11. Saint-Aubin 1er Cru Vieilles Vignes, Jean-Claude Bachelet – 2009
I really think that Saint-Aubin is such an overlooked region in Burgundy. I can’t understand why….the wines are delicious & affordable! The reds can sometimes be compared to reds from Chassagne-Montrachet, bearing an earthier more brooding characteristic. You really see that in this wine. First out the glass is a dusty minerality rounded out by dark rustic berries & black plums….the longer you let it sit in your glass the more it evolves! It’s still light bodied, has hints of mixed herbs on the palate & finishes with tannins that beg for a meal. I’m thinking herb-roast quail.