Burgundy Uncorked: Wines of Effort and Wines of Place

"Once you put two feet inside the door of Burgundy, it's hard to find your way back." Ken Chalmers

The thought of having an addictive personality has never really crossed my mind before, I mean, I can pretty much give up anything that I don't believe is good for me. For example, except for the press trip I took last week, I've given up bread, bagels, etc. I don't buy it, and I really don't miss it all that much. But when I was asked by Ken Chalmers, the owner Bird Rock Fine Wine, as I was purchasing more Burgundy, he asked if I had an addictive personality in regards to my purchases.

His question did give me some pause, but I assured him that, "no-no I'm merely an explorer on the vine-covered trail" and that this excursion would be no different than any of many others I've taken before. But his admonition got me thinking, are those possibly famous last words (gulp) in light of having been awe-struck by both bottles in very different ways; as I'm already considering replenishing those two bottles. While it was tempting, I did not give in, I moved on to other wines and other regions.

Moving up the ranks from their Bourgogne status, Marsannay was awarded (1987) appellation contrôlée (AC) classification, after years of toiling in Bourgogne status. There was a time, earlier in the 19th century, when Marsannay was primarily known as the great unwashed masses of jug-wine like Gamay Noir, oh-my. Marsannay comprising 480 acres has no premier crus to speak of, just a few notable or 'named' vineyards, known as lieux-dits. This wine producing region is nowhere near the vaunted pinnacle of terroir, but that is a good thing, reason being, incredibly good values for wine enthusiasts who have a reasonably sized budget for wine and have little need for brag bottles to appear with on social media.

The 2009 Les Longeroies seen above is the third wine from Marsannay, which I've experienced in just the last few weeks. This bottle while not expensive, a mere $27, but was no slouch in the delicious category. A wine boasting of the rich, ripe fruit (no chubby ballerina here) many of wines of this vintage experienced, a wonderfully terroir-driven wine, that while very exuberant in style, it had a nice counterbalance of acidity driving the wines home substance and poise. I scored this wine 90 points, it's highly recommended.

The color of the wine surprised me a bit, thinking its appearance would be much lighter, but in the glass, it looked like a ripe summer plum. Mrs. Cuvee and I paired this beauty with a freshly baked Shepard's Pie, our ticket to tasty town, please excuse the hackneyed catchphrase.

As you can see from the map, both wines are from nearly both ends of the Burgundian spectrum Marsannay in the north and Chassagne-Montrachet in the south. In the southern end of Burgundy is where you (surprisingly to some) find the majority of the white-Burgundy coming from and in the north is where most of the red-Burgundy is found. It does seem a bit counter-intuitive, but nonetheless, that is the case.

As many of already know Chassagne-Montrachet is in the Côte de Beaune and, is famous for its great white wines (Chardonnay). The most famous of these is, of course, Montrachet, known to many as the king of white wines, seeing these wines can fetch some high prices.

While 60% of the production is white wines, that leaves a good percentage red-wines [Pinot Noir] produced here that cannot compete with their northern neighbors. But while they may not be able to compete, these wines are no slouch, especially in great vintages like 2009 and 2010. Of course, that fact will significantly benefit the average vino-sapiens looking for reasonably priced Burgundy.

To find a Chassagne-Montrachet rouge is pretty rare in the first place and the price was pretty uncommon as well, under $25. Seeing most of the white wines bearing this appellation name typically sell for prices much more than what I paid for the bottle you see pictured below.

The 2010 Chassagne-Montrachet, pictured above is wine very light in color, more like a bright cranberry/strawberry. The nose jumped from the glass right away, fresh summer strawberries, raspberry puree, rich-earth, dried-florals and even a whiff of rhubarb. I didn't want to take my nose away, even to grab that first slurp, but I resisted, dove right in and wow everything I experience in the nose exploded across my palate like a broadside from a pirate-ship of old.

This wine danced to the tune of sweet cherry-pie and threw in some crushed stone just for good measure. I was utterly taken back by this wines power and strength, but I was done in by its finesse. Wow, what a thrill ride where the price of admission, have you saying like a six-year at Disney-Land "can I do that again, can I huh, please." My score for this wine is 92 points.

I didn't have to spend to much coin either, both wines make for quite the fantastic tasting adventure, one I would highly recommend you taking yourself soon. Mrs. Cuvee was out of town, so yes I took one for the team and finished the bottle. I paired this wine with baked-salmon, a freshly chopped organic spinach salad, and mushroom risotto. Until next time folks remember to slurp long and prosper cheers!

Full Disclosure: Neither of the wines reviewed above is a sample, and both were paid for by personal funds. 


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