Tuesday, November 13, 2007

WBW #39 Silver Burg

The Côte Chalonnaise! The Mâconnais! I admit that I rarely venture into these regions. Or the Côte d'Or, for that matter. I frankly typecast better Burgundy as outside my budget and pay (too much?) heed to the warnings of variability from that region at all price points.

"Hmmm," I think, "should I spend this $25 on a terrific Savennières or an OK white Burgundy?" As a Loire partisan, I admit that wasn't a fair question (not to mention a question of apples and oranges), but it's also a misleading question. I'm a fan of Oregon Pinot Noir, and good examples in a more Burgundian style often run in the $40 range. Red Burgundy of equal quality can be less.

So Brooklynguy is right: there are excellent wines to be had from these regions at good prices, red and white both. Here are three.

Les Héritiers du Comte Lafon Mâcon-Milly-Lamartine 2004
I have little experience with Mâcon wines, but ah, isn't that what WBW is all about? And I am happy to report that this was a happy experience — happier, indeed, than my recent experience with a rather dull white Santenay from the Côte de Beaune from the same year. This Lafon was a really nice Chardonnay. It had body without overt weight and acidity without tartness. It smelled most specifically of golden toast, along with pineapple and just a hint of coconut, but while that's obviously the voice of the oak barrel, that voice didn't shout in my ear. For example, it had a nice, clean, minerally finish. Good stuff! $23

François Raquillet Mercurey Vieilles Vignes 2005
Yes, it's silly to open this so soon, but it's WBW 39, whattaya gonna do? Left undisturbed fresh out of the bottle, this red plum-colored wine throws aromas of wet hay, cinnamon, and cherry cough drop; with swirling, related smells of fresh-turned pasture, seaweed, and cold steel take over. Fresh black cherry shows with some air. In the mouth the acidity is high-toned and ramrod straight — hard, even — and the wine finishes with a smooth minerality and a lip-smacking tang. This is a definite rebuy, for given a few years, this should become more velvety and deepen to where it needs to be. $27

François Raquillet Mercurey 1er Cru Les Vasées 2004
And here's the best of the three, circa November 2007. This light-colored wine was just so young when I opened it and served it with oven-roasted halibut and sauteed leeks but it deepened as the night went on. The perfume (and it IS perfume, not just aroma) is gorgeous — in the main it conveys fresh strawberries, but a deep, savory note of autumn pie spices is also prominent. It's a bit simple in the mouth right now but it's graceful, fills the mouth (lightly), the finish is long and slightly spicy, and the tannins, the acid, and the fruit are in balance. Very sexy! As much as I liked the above Vieilles Vignes from the great vintage, the premier cru from the lesser vintage shows its mettle, and it should also improve over the next few years. $27

OK, are these wines cheap? No. But they're not outrageously priced, either, and considering the quality, well worth it.

(Oh, and while I have your attention, I wanted to let you know that the Cristom Pinot Noir Mt. Jefferson Cuvée Willamette Valley 2005 is well worth your time. It shows promise simply by having been harvested in a classic (cooler) Oregon vintage, fermented with native yeasts, and aged using only 18% new French oak. That promise is fulfilled. With its strong acid core, this has a way to go before reaching its apex, but it's already showing well. It's pale and rosy like a Burgundy and shows like one, too, with its subtle notes of baking spices and ripe but delicate cranberry, strawberry, and currant flavors. Fine, with excellent length, and it's great with a mushroom-based sauce. As with Raquillet's Mercurey, this should become deeper and more velvety in the coming years. Actually, I should taste it alongside the Raquillet 1er Cru in 2010, provided I can find these wines again!)

1 comment:

Brooklynguy said...

hey mike - thanks for participating, and for your excellent post - just great notes. of course, i can tell that we are into similar wines, so maybe i'm biased, but i don't think so. pleasure to read, as you clearly have a sensitive palate and a joy for sharing your experience. and thanks for the link - i'm adding you to my roll too. see you around-neil