When it comes to my most beloved wines, red Burgundy is very high on the list. Nowhere else in the world does Pinot Noir achieve the magical, ethereal quality that it does in this part of France. All that magic though, comes at a price. The reputation of certain villages, vineyards and producers has driven up the costs of all the wine from the region, even though the quality level across the board varies greatly. I never feel certain when buying an unknown bottle of red wine from Burgundy, that I'm going to get what I've paid a premium for, and no other wine region has so often disappointed me. So when I saw this bottle at Costco in the $60 range, I was intrigued. Would I be in love, or bitterly heartbroken?
There are many reasons why Burgundy quality varies so much. As I've said before, in Burgundy, the vineyard is king. The priciest wines will name a vineyard specific to a village, specific to a region of Burgundy. Pinot Noir is a difficult grape to grow and make into great wine and most vineyards in the region have several owners. This goes back to a set of inheritance laws where a parent's land holdings get passed down not to just one child, but split equally amongst all. A farmer in Burgundy may be responsible for just a single row of vines in a vineyard, selling their grapes to someone else to turn into wine. Wine producers who buy grapes to make wine are called Negociants, while Domaines are wine producers who grow their own grapes. Neither is a signifier of quality, there are excellent and terrible wines coming from both systems. Nor are they mutually exclusive, some Domaines are also Negociants, making wine from grapes they've bought as well as from those they've grown. It can be very confusing, and by virtue of being from Burgundy, particularly from the prestigious regions, villages, or vineyards, the prices can be exorbitant.
Tonight's wine is from the village (or commune) Vosne-Romanee in the Cote de Nuits. It's made by a Domaine, which means that the winemaker was also in charge of the growing of the grapes, 100% Pinot Noir, sourced from any of the vineyards in that village.
Brickish garnet in the glass, the primary fruit was cherries, but that was just the tip of the iceberg. There was earth, mushrooms, a touch of barnyard, great acidity and fine tannins that gave the wine structure. It was both wonderfully complex, yet very easy to drink, seeming to be at it's peak. If I could afford it, I'd buy a case. This is the stuff I wish I could drink every night.
Labels: Burgundy, France, Pinot Noir, Wine, Wine Review