Tour with me from north to south through this blessed strip of earth to find out what each village delivers to your glass.
Photo courtesy of Neil Faz via Flickr/cc
Marsannay is the only Burgundian village granted a rosé appellation. There’s also white, but Marsannay’s main focus is red. The wines are frank, meaning rough around the edges. The color is copious and the aromas are packed with earth and game. Drink most within a few years of vintage.
Pour: Domaine Collotte 2009 Marsannay Cuvée Vieilles Vignes
Dense and layered nose: forest floor, boysenberry and super-ripe black plum. Chunky tannins, marked acidity and lingering finish.
A sleeper appellation, Fixin produces masculine reds. Whites are made but are even further off the radar screen. These reds are “working class” compared to the “white collar” wines one town south in Gevrey-Chambertin. They show lots of bravado (solid body with broad tannin) and “cologne” (sweaty flannel and creosote).
Pour: Domaine Pierre Gelin 2009 Fixin
Blackberry and mulberry flavors bump against roasted wild boar accented with lavender. Medium-bodied, the tannins are strapping and the acidity is boisterous.
THIS is Grand Cru central, with more Grand Crus than any other village in Burgundy. Gevrey combines the best of the Côte de Nuits’ most finessed appellations with the greatest flavor intensity of the most pungent ones. There’s a wine profile and price point for everyone, as long as you want red. No white wine here!
Pour: Denis Bachelet 2007 Gevrey-Chambertin Vieilles Vignes
Quintessential. Black cherry, mushroom and tobacco leaf with coca inflections. The tannins are suave, the acidity is vivacious and the texture is succulent.
Morey dances in the curtains while neighbors Gevrey and Chambolle take center stage. Still, Morey’s roster boasts more Grand Crus than Chambolle. The wines most resemble Gevrey yet are firmer with greater acidic backbone and grippier tannins. There is also a clear emphasis on earth and minerality. Look for fruit elsewhere.
Pour: Domaine Forey 2008 Morey-St-Denis
Mineral, gamey, intense, focused. Everything that embodies Morey.
My favorite and a rare Morey Blanc. Dujac also makes a village level wine, but splurge for the Premier Cru. It’s a mid-weight Chardonnay replete with pit fruits, grapefruit pith, tarragon and generous minerality delicately balanced with new oak.
In Chambolle, the fruit character is decidedly red and the personality is unmistakably feminine and bewitching. Tannins turn silky and acidity integrates entirely into the background. Chambolle-Musigny can break hearts!
Pour: Domaine Hudelot-Noëllat 2008 Chambolle-Musigny
Impressively pure aromas of morello cherry and lingonberry delight the nose. The restrained core offers supple tannins and mid-palate creaminess while finishing moderately long.
Only reds from the Clos Vougeot may be Grand Cru, and the clos is, effectively, the appellation. The issue is that authorities won’t dissect this walled-in vineyard. In a region where the subtle temperature difference afforded by a ditch changes the AOC, how can 50 contiguous hectares be classified as Grand Cru? Vougeot wines resemble Gevrey’s with bacon and roasted nut accents.
Pour: Domaine René Engel 2004 Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru
Tobacco and crushed leaves accompany forest fruits and mushroom and lead to a long finish. Compact and palate-coating, the fine tannin and buoyant acidity keep this muscular and weighty wine bright.
Vosne-Romanée and Flagey-Echézeaux
Like ballet dancers, the wines of Vosne-Romanée are lithe, sensual and purposeful. Interestingly, Vosne-Romanée possesses a spiciness that is not wood-derived. Next door, Flagey-Echézeaux houses two Grand Crus that show more forceful structure than Vosne wines.
Pour: Domaine Michel Gros 2008 Vosne-Romanée
Raspberry, roses and licorice prevail. Finely integrated high acidity is accompanied by succulent tannins and a fairly long finish.
Nuits-St-Georges and Prémeaux
Nuits-St-Georges poses plenty of juxtapositions. Glorious wines claim their roots here, yet near-swill is made, too. The wines resemble those of Gevrey yet show more funk and more rigorous tannins. Nuits-St-Georges wines are usually drunk young; if you have a Premier Cru, set it aside for a while.
Pour: Henri Gouges 2006 Nuits-St-Georges
Massively earthy and lightly rustic with iron undertones, this is textbook Nuits-St-Georges. For a village wine, this offers impressive balance and the first hints of maturity.
Photo courtesy of ijulien via Flickr/cc
Check back in a few weeks to see what the villages of the Côte de Beaune deliver to your glass(es).