AFFORDABLE WHITE BURGUNDY? YES THEY DO EXIST

I wrote in a recent column on affordable Bordeaux, “(A)s these wines [the top Bordeaux] have reached icon status, their prices have followed into the hundreds and even thousands of dollars – per bottle. Still, it is possible to find good, affordable Bordeaux.” Just change Bordeaux to Burgundy (red or white) and you have the premise of this column.

The most famous (and most expensive) Burgundies (those of the Côte d’Or) have become out of reach for most wine drinkers but it is still possible to find good wines at reasonable prices, if you know where to look. This column centers specifically on white Burgundy. Burgundy is the birthplace of Chardonnay and the wines are 100% chardonnay.

A long time favorite of mine for white Burgundy value is Mâcon-Villages. Located at the southern end of Burgundy, with clay and alluvial soils overlaying limestone, chardonnay flourishes here. Mâcon chardonnay tends to be refreshingly lively and delicate.The large, well-respected négociant Georges Duboeuf offers a typical Mâcon (2015, $20). This unoaked wine presents taut citrus, peach and honeysuckle. The family owned and farmed for five generations Domaine Les Chenevières (2015, $22), also unoaked, is fruitful with citrus, mineral, and a hint of spice.A little to the south, Pouilly-Fuissé likely benefits from more recognition among American consumers, a vestige of its popularity in the last century. Its wines tend to be fuller with deeper fruit than Mâcon-Villages.Duboeuf also produces a Pouilly-Fuissé (2015, $35). Citrus, apple, melon, and pineapple greet, while modest oak yields a light touch of vanilla, to a lush, lightly spicy finish. From another family owned vineyard (with a 200-year history in the region), Emile Berangér (2015, $40) offers a creamy, texture, bright citrus, pear and apricot. Chablis is a little different of a story. When was the last time you had a glass of Chablis? And I don’t mean the generic boxed or “jug” wine of unknown origin. In another century, some California wineries sold their inexpensive wines with flashy names like Burgundy, Rhine, Chianti, Sherry, Port, and yes, Chablis. These wines had nothing to do with the authentic article, simply capitalizing on the famous name.Located about 1½ hours from Paris, Chablis is the most northern of the Burgundy wine-producing regions. Divided into four different appellations (Petit Chablis, Chablis, Chablis Premier Cru, Chablis Grand Cru), Chablis vineyards spread east and west from the Serein River.

Comprising about 18% of Chablis production, Petit Chablis grapes are grown primarily on younger soils, mostly on the plateaus. These wines are fine everyday values, inviting attention to their refreshing, pure fruit and generally light, lively palate.

Expect aromas and flavors of white flowers mixed with citrusy notes (lemon, grapefruit) and sometimes peach and apricot or pineapple. You might even detect some of the signature mineral and chalky character of Chablis.

 

 

 

 

 

From a family that has farmed the area since 1887 and made wine since 1957, the 2015 Domaine du Colombier ($15) offers brisk lime with a steely note.

The 2015 Sebastien Dampt “Terroir de Milly” ($17) is nicely prickly and a bit spicy. Although this family has been making wine in Chablis for over 150 years, this domaine was founded in 2007 by the newest generation.

The 2014 Jean Marc Brocard ($18) comes from a producer with extensive holdings, mostly farmed organic or biodynamic. This one shows some mineral, to its lively grapefruit, offset with a touch of honey.

Finally, a producer working with a cooperative of nearly 300 growers, the 2014 La Chablisienne “Pas si Petit” ($19) reflects its name (“not so little”) with intense gooseberry, a touch of grapefruit and honey.

 

As a bonus, these wines are versatile accompaniments to food, nicely complimenting egg dishes, a variety of fish, shellfish and raw seafood, picnic foods, even grilled and barbecue foods. And they are ideal as an aperitif.

 

 

 

About Rich

I first became interested in wine while I worked in numerous liquor stores during college in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. In the years following college, I researched, tasted, traveled to vineyards in California and Europe, participated in countless tastings. I began writing about wine in 1995 with a column in Out Front Colorado. For me, wine is more than a drink. It is food. It is a connection to the earth. It is culture. There is just something amazing, even magical, about the transformation of grapes into wine. It is also remarkable how drinking wine with food enhances the taste and enjoyment of both. Appreciation of wine has become an integral part of my approach to life, which emphasizes balance, respect for nature, physical and emotional health, and an appreciation of our nature as social beings. In 2006, I was awarded a fellowship to the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers.