Burgundy is a small place. The town of Puligny-Montrachet, which Clive Coates calls “the greatest white wine commune on earth,” covers less than a single square mile. And yet the wines from this town have been prized for over a thousand years.
“Oaked” or “unoaked” sounds like a yes-no question, but it really is a range. Most of the wines we import spend some time in oak, but the strength of its influence depends on the age and size of the barrel, the chauffe (how heavily the inside is charred), and time in the barrel.
The town of Morey-St-Denis exemplifies the small scale of Burgundian winemaking. Wedged between two more famous neighbors, this village of 680 people has a vineyard surface of under 4 tenths of a square mile. It’s dark, delicious, classic red Burgundy -- there just isn’t much of it to go around.
“Minerality” is a hard word to define. It appears throughout the wine world, but nobody can quite say what it is. Last year wine writer Lettie Teague called it “a helpful word to describe wines that aren’t fruity, spicy, or herbal.” That’s still pretty vague, but it’s a good start.
Sometimes we wonder why Michel Gros makes any white wine at all. The Gros family has lived for generations in Vosne-Romanée, a town that produces some of the finest red wines in the world; and his red Burgundies have won him acclaim for decades.
Wine writer Rajat Parr describes St. Aubin as the “insider’s white Burgundy.” Wedged in a valley between Chassagne and Puligny, this town produces white Burgundy with hints of Montrachet’s golden richness, but a less stratospheric price tag.
For most Burgundy enthusiasts, Vosne-Romanée is Mecca. The wines of Vosne have been celebrated since at least the 13th century, and it is generally considered “the greatest Pinot Noir village on earth.”* Or, as a monk wrote centuries ago, “there are no ordinary wines in Vosne.”
Jean-Louis Amiot is on a roll. In the last few years Amiot has hit his stride, producing consistently excellent wines in vintages that have been anything but easy. Yesterday we visited the domaine to taste his 2013s, and were once again impressed at the quality in a difficult year. They’ll be included in next month’s July Futures.
Buying Burgundy is a tricky game. Many wines take years to mature, and early on it can be difficult to know what they'll become. But tiny quantities often mean only one chance to buy each vintage. We swallow hard, make our best guesses, and then wait.
Dijon may be the largest city in Burgundy, but Beaune is its heart. This ancient city dates to prehistoric times, and for centuries its culture has been steeped in winemaking. Today it’s a vibrant town full of bustling markets and busy sidewalk cafes.
Beside Chablis, the best secret in a white Burgundy lover’s cellar is his stash of St. Aubin. The village is easy to miss, wedged in a valley between Puligny-Montrachet and Chassagne-Montrachet. And though it rightly plays second fiddle to these two giants, it’s still a source for what Rajat Parr calls “some of the best-value Chardonnays in the world.”
The Louis Picamelot family, sparkling wine producers in Rully, make different wines in both of these styles – terroir-specific and region-specific. Today we’re focusing on their region-specific style: Picamelot’s Crémant Blanc de Blancs Brut.