No one does Pinot Noir the way Burgundy does. True, there are wines now being made in New Zealand, California and a few other wine regions that are fine examples of the grape. But none outdoes Burgundy. It remains the mother of all Pinot Noirs, one of the world’s greatest red wines and the most intriguing.
Burgundy is a 30-mile string of tiny, old villages in eastern France. Because most of its vineyards are split into small parcels, vintners usually own parts of a number of vineyards. All this makes for a complex region that offers many wines, each in small quantities.
It is not possible to do justice to Burgundy or even to one of its vineyards in the space of a page. So here is a mere sample, a few reds that I recently tasted and found outstanding.
If you have only one Volnay, let it be Lafarge. This excellent vintner makes about a half-dozen Volnays. One is its Volnay Clos des Chênes 2006, a wine that captures beautifully the fruit-rich fragrance, the gossamer delicacy of silk and the bright vivaciousness of Volnay at its best.
From Pommard, I particularly liked Domaine du Comte Armand’s Clos des Epenaux, a 13.5-acre vineyard that is one of Burgundy’s relatively few monopoles, that is, vineyards owned totally by one vintner. The 2007 is well structured, balanced and, while its flavors are somewhat subtle, the wine denotes restrained power.
Domaine Jacques-Frédéric Mugnier Nuits-St. Georges Clos de la Maréchale 2007 is another monopole. It has an aroma that conjures up a basket of blackberries, blueberries and cherries and a finish that goes on and on.
And there is Domaine Fougeray de Beauclair Chambolle-Musigny Bonnes Mares 2001, a deeply scented wine with a full, satiny body, superb taste of subtle flavors and long, lingering finish.
Add to these other fine producers who make predominately red Burgundy: Domaine Simon Bize et Fils in Savigny-lès-Beaune, Domaine Nicolas Rossignol and Domaine Jean Tardy et Fils. Wines high in quality and low in quantity are invariably not inexpensive; these red Burgundies average about $50 to $200. Still, what they offer is priceless — an opportunity to taste Pinot Noir at its best.
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