Alcohol levels are on the rise in just about every region in France. More heat means riper grapes, and more sugar means higher levels of alcohol. Growers are experimenting with canopy management to increase shade, adjusting plowing schedules, earlier harvesting, and other techniques to avoid overripeness, but the trend is clearly in one direction.
In Burgundy, the wine is still delicious – indeed you could argue it’s never been better – but it tastes a bit different than a decade ago. So those yearning for old-school Burgundy, we suggest today’s wine from 2017. Clear, middleweight, pure, and punchy – 12.5% alcohol, and perfectly balanced. Nothing fancy or showy, just humble, delicious, affordable red Burgundy.
Michel Gros farms quite a bit of land in the Hautes-Côtes de Nuits, a subregion to the west of his famous hometown of Vosne-Romanée. His Burgundies from this region are always delicious, and because of their under-the-radar zip code are often terrific bargains as well. Today’s wine is an Hautes-Côtes from 2017, a slightly cooler year that produced wines with lower acidities and friendlier tannins.
Today the 2017 Hautes-Côtes “Au Vallon” is just lovely. The nose shows earthy red cherries, delicate floral notes, and a hint of chalk. The mouth shows rounded structure, with perfectly balanced tannins and a clean, surprisingly elegant finish. This is traditional red Burgundy from a masterful winemaker in an extremely accessible vintage, all wrapped up in a neat 5-year-old package.
Gros Hautes-Côtes “Au Vallon” 2017
bottle price: $35