About a week or so ago I wrote a post about some delicious, delicious red Burgundies I shared with some staffers of the Nota Bene. However, that was only half the story, as along with the three excellent pinots we tried three chardonnays.
I think a lot of people, when they think about Burgundy, see in their mind’s eye big jug wines labeled “Burgundy.” (An aside: I was looking up Carlo Rossi’s Burgundy to see what grapes go in it but was unsuccessful. I have no clue what goes in their Burgundy, and apparently no one on the Internet cares enough to do the research!) This is horrible, and my hat goes off to those wine drinkers who appreciate well-crafted, artisanal pinot noir-based Burgundies from Burgundy, France.
But that’s not all this wondrous region has to offer. I would argue that some of the world’s greatest white wines–and definitely the world’s greatest chardonnays–come from Burgundy. Those white Burgundies I’ve tried have all been vastly superior–to my palate, at least–to those super-oaky butterballs that California seems to churn out with a vengeance.
To each his own, though, right? This might be the case, but in my age demographic (20-30, generally) white Burgundies get ignored. This can be chalked (heh) up to four broad reasons:
- When people think of Burgundy, they think of horrible jug wines.
- When people don’t think of Burgundy in terms of jug wines, they think that all Burgundies are red.
- Many people are turned off by the “butterball” super-oaky style of chardonnay championed by Californian winemakers.
- White Burgundies can be friggin’ expensive.
I’ve already addressed numbers one and two. As regards number three, white Burgundies are as a general rule much less oaky than California wines. However, they do exist on a stylistic scale ranging from lean and mean to round and supple, which makes Burgundy a veritable playground of chardonnay.
If you’re reading this blog you’ve probably seen or at least heard of the movie Sideways, which chronicles the last hurrah journey of two friends through the Santa Ynez Valley. It is filled with fine wine, boozing, women, and other misadventures. One of the sadder scenes is when Miles, the protagonist, drinks a bottle of his prized ’61 Cheval Blanc alone with a foam fast-food restaurant cup.
Having been in a fraternity, I’ve imbibed from many different sorts of containers: mugs, plastic cups, boxes, the bosom of life. At the time, I was proud of my set of four Crate and Barrel wineglasses (price: $3.99 each), into which I’d pour only the finest Yellowtail Shiraz and Merlot.
What a difference a few years make.
II. Riedel glassware is awesome.
Drink wine long enough and you’ll eventually come across mention of Riedel stemware. Riedel has been in the business of glassmaking for eleven generations, so they’ve not only had time to perfect what they’re doing, they’ve had the time to come up with a whole host of awesome crystal products.
Drinking out of a Riedel glass elevates the wine experience for at least two reasons. First: they’re simply beautiful and well-designed glasses, period. Most of their lines—including the affordable machine-made Vinum series—are made of lead crystal, which classes up any drinking situation. They’re well-weighted and feel good in the hand. Their lips are thin, which avoids the problem some glasses have where it feels like you’re drinking wine from a coffee mug. And, they are simple and elegant.
I’ve been meaning to update this blog with the results of a fantastic Burgundy tasting I hosted for the staff of the Nota Bene a few weeks ago, but I never got around to it (I think finals, which start next week, has something to do with it). However, a post on the Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant blog “Inspiring Thirst” inspired me to post at least a short entry on a few of the wines we drank that evening.
We had a spate of seven wines for the tasting, starting with the decidedly NOT Burgundian Drappier “Carte d’Or” Blanc de Blancs Brut Champagne which I included because, hell, it’s 100% chardonnay, and hell, who doesn’t like Champagne? We went through three whites–a basic Mâcon-Villages, a Chablis, and a Chassagne-Montrachet–and three reds.
The first red, the 2005 Domaine René Leclerc Bourgogne, was a basic rouge I picked up at MacArthur Beverages for around $25. However, it was really, really good, with nice acidity, some spice, and a hint of funk. This is definitely something I’d pick up as a “house Burgundy” if I ever make that much money in the future.