red burgundies that won’t break the bank t .he prevailing image of french burgundy wines, red or
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These reasonably-priced Burgundies arewines to drink now, for everyday dining. Ina single trip to the new, beautiful AstorWines & Spirits (399 Lafayette at 4th St.,NYC), we selected 15 Burgundies thatwould wholesale for about $72 to $240 percase of 12. By selecting the appellationscarefully, we could even find wines that areimported by some of the most reliablenames in the Burgundy business, such asNeal Rosenthal, Louis-Dressner, Kermit
Lynch, Polaner Selections, and RobertChadderdon.
The simplest and most affordable redBurgundies are those that use the region-wideBourgogne appellation. Today some of the bigBurgundy ngociant houses, such as LouisJadot, Labour-Roi, Faiveley, Louis Latour,and Joseph Drouhin, label these wines asPinot Noir to make them more accessible toU.S. consumers. These wines can come fromgrapes grown anywhere in the Burgundy
region. Suggested retail prices start at $9 a bot-tle, but can exceed $20 for serious grower-pro-ducer Bourgogne Rouge wines, such asDomaine A. & P. De Villaines.
One step upwards from genericBourgogne are the subdistrict appellations,such as Cte-de Beaune-Villages, Cte-de-Nuits-Villages, Hautes-Cte-de-Nuits, andHautes- Cte-de Beaune. (The latter two,the Hautes Appellations, cover the outly-ing districts of the fabled Cte dOr, andhave less status than the first two.)
The specific-village appellations of theCte dOr district and the CteChalonnaise district typically are as high asyou can reach in sourcing inexpensiveBurgundies. And in the Cte dOrhomeof the priciest Burgundiesyou usuallymust limit yourself to wines from the lesser-known villages, such as (from north tosouth) Marsannay, Fixin, Ladoix, Pernand-Vergelesses, Chorey-ls-Beaune, Savigny-ls-Beaune, Auxey-Duresses, Monthlie, St.-Romain, St.-Aubin, and Maranges. (All ofthese villages except Marsannay and Fixinare in the southern half of the Cte dOrthe Cte de Beaunewhose red Burgundiesare generally less expensive than those ofthe northern halfthe Cte de Nuits).
tasting cornerby Ed McCarthy and Mary Ewing-Mulligan MW
The prevailing image of French Burgundywines, red or white, is that they are expensiveand rare. The same image holds true for Bor-deaux, but to a lesser extent, since the Bordeaux regionproduces at least four times as much wine as Bourgogneas the French call it. Once you can get past the smallpercentage of expensive Grand Cru and Premier CruBurgundies, however, you can find quite a number ofred Burgundies in the $10 to $30 retail range.
Red Burgundies that Wont Break the Bank
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Once in a while, you might come acrossred Burgundies under $30 from more presti-gious Cte dOr villages, such as Nuits-St.-Georges, Beaune, and Chassagne-Montrachet. Occasionally, a Premier CruBurgundy can even retail under $30; forexample, we found two Beaune PremierCrus that we include in our reviews below.
Red Burgundies from the CteChalonnaise, just south of the Cte dOr,are generally earthier, less complex, andless delicate than those of the Cte dOr.On the other hand, they are great values;almost all of them, even Premier Crus,have a suggested retail of $20 to $30. Thethree Chalonnaise village-appellation redsto look for, roughly in order of their merit,are Mercurey, Givry, and Rully.
We recently blind-tasted many afford-able red Burgundies and included one odd-ball wine, Bourgogne Passetoutgrains, froma very reputable Burgundy producer,Hubert Lignier. Bourgogne Passetoutgrainsis a blend of Pinot Noir (at least one-third)and Gamay. These wines generally age bet-ter than Beaujolais, and in the hands of acapable producer, can be quite good.
Important Factors inChoosing BurgundyOur high impression of this lesserBurgundy (Bourgogne Passetoutgrains)underscores the utmost importance of theproducer in selecting Burgundy. The vin-tage ranks second in importance. Theappellation itself is far less critical than theproducer or the vintage.
Of recent vintages, both 2004 and2002, especially the latter, are very good forred Burgundy; 2002 promises to live formany years. The torrid 2003 vintage can begood in the hands of capable producers, butyou especially have to pay attention to pro-ducer in this vintage. Both 2001 and 2000
are just fair vintages, at best. The 1999 vin-tage is excellent, but somewhat precocious;in general 99 red Burgundies, like those of2000 and 2001, are ready to drink.
Rare Mix of Quality & ValueWe were pleasantly surprised by the qualitythat we found in this price category of redBurgundies. We believe, first, that youshould seek out the better producers, andthis task is made easier if you stick to well-regarded quality Burgundy importers suchas Neal Rosenthal, Louis/Dressner, KermitLynch, Robert Chadderdon, and PolanerSelections, or reputable ngociant firms suchas Joseph Drouhin and Louis Jadot. Seconda-rily, the vintage is extremely important forBurgundy: its no accident that our twohighest-rated wines were a 2002 and a 1999,two excellent Burgundy vintages. Our onlyconcern is the apparent global warmingthat has taken its toll on wines throughoutthe world; we have seen its effect on the2003 vintage in Burgundy (and elsewhere).More than ever, you should taste one bottleof wine before making large purchases. (See some of our selections on the following pages.)
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GROUP ONE: REGIONAL ANDDISTRICT-WIDE APPELLATIONBURGUNDIES
Domaine Lucien Boillot & Fils 2004Bourgogne ($22, Kermit Lynch):Vivid, fresh fruit flavors, mainly tartred berries and spice, plus livelyacidity; concentrated fruit on the fin-ish. This wine will improve with a bitof age; well-balanced, impressiveBourgogne! 91
Joseph Drouhin 2004 BourgognePinot Noir, LaForet ($14, DreyfusAshby): Black-fruit and spice aromasand soft, ample palate with fairly lowtannin; fresh, round, and upfront. Inmany respects, a textbookBourgogne. 87
Joseph Drouhin 2002 BourgognePinot Noir, Vro ($22, DreyfusAshby): Named after winemakerVeronique Drouhin, this is the firmsupscale Bourgogne. Soft, full andample, with loosely-knit flavors of red
and black fruits. Complete and well-balanced; a beautifully integratedBourgogne. 90
Domaine Lucien Jacob 2003Bourgogne Hautes-Ctes deBeaune ($20, Neal Rosenthal):Ripe, black fruit aromas and a signifi-cant tannin component, with flavorscharacteristic of the 03 vintage, butconcentrated fruit flavors linger onthe palate, suggesting potential toage. 88
Louis Jadot 2004 Bourgogne PinotNoir ($18, Kobrand Corp.): Tart redfruit (mainly cherry) flavors dominate;spicy and sassy in personality, withgood acidity; just a bit on the lightside; ready to drink now. 87
Louis Jadot2003 Cte deBeaune-Villages($20, KobrandCorp.): Penetra-
ting aromas of spice and red fruits, andthen surprisingly soft in the mouth, exc-ept for its firm oak tannins; quite deli-cious, but showing its 13 alcohol. 87
The Best Bang for Your Buck:We tasted the following inexpensive Burgundiesblind in two groups, according to the pricetier of the wine. As expected, the secondgroup (retailing between $21 and $29) wasmore impressive on the whole than the firstgroup, but we did have a few favorites in the less-expensive group as well. Wines arelisted aphabetically and include importerand suggested retail price.
tasting corner: red burgundiesby Ed McCarthy and Mary Ewing-Mulligan MW
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Hubert Lignier 2004 BourgognePassetoutgrains ($16, NealRosenthal): Lovely, earthy, mush-roomy, herbal and spicy aromas; redfruit flavors, especially raspberries,with a slight candied impression. Adelicious wine, vaguely reminiscentof cherry cola. We kept drinking thisone with dinner. 89
Catherine et Claude Marchal 2004Bourgogne Cuve Gravel ($23,Louis /Dressner Selections):Similar to the Boillot Bourgogne withits high acidity and rich, red andblack berry fruit, but just a tad riperand sweeter. A totally deliciousBourgogne, ready now. 90
Jean-Marc Pillot 2004 Bourgogne,Les Grandes Terres ($22, NealRosenthal): Spicy aromas combinewith earthy flavors and delicate fruitto make the Pillot Bourgogne justlovely to drink now; well-balanced,although alcohol (13) a bit high inthe balance; dry tannins complementthe red and black berry fruit flavors. 88
Domaine Jacky Renard 2003Bourgogne ($10, BayfieldImporting): As ripe and rich as weexpect a 2003 to be; not a berrywine, more like black plums; lacksthe delicacy of some of the moreexpensive Bourgognes, but a greatvalue! 86
GROUP TWO: VILLAGE-LEVEL AND PREMIER CRUAPPELLATION BURGUNDIES
Domaine Jean Chauvenet 2001Nuits-St.-Georges ($29, NealRosenthal): Good producer,mediocre vintage. The one wine inthe tasting that showed too muchoakiness, a cardinal sin for Burgundy.This Nuits-St.-Georges, typical of its
commune, is a big wine, but it lacksBurgundys charm and finesse; morelike a New World Pinot Noir. 86
Louis Jadot 2003 Beaune 1er Cru($29, Kobrand Corp.): Jadot invari-ably produces fine Burgundies fromthe Beaune commune; the only issuewith this Premier Cru is the hot 2003vintage, which tipped wines towardripeness, heaviness, high alcohol andunderripe tannins. With 13.5 alco-hol, this wine has lots of black fruitflavors, but only a bit of the racinessand delicacy typically found in Beaunewines from cooler vintages. 88
Louis Jadot 2003 Fixin ($21,Kobrand Corp.): Fixin, at the northernend of the Cte de Nuits, is anotherof the lesser-known Burgundy vill-ages whose wines are well-priced.Dark, chunky red berry, spice, andblack fruit flavors dominate; ratherbig-shouldered for a village Burgundy;more fruity than subtle. 88
Louis Jadot2003 Pernand-Vergelesses($24, KobrandCorp.): More tan-nic and riper th