I've got a thirst for red Burgundy right now. The holidays are here and I want my complex, high-acid, cranberry-laden French pinot noir! But I want to drink it today, not four years from now. That's my issue. Unfortunately, I've already tasted or purchased practically every drinkable red Burgundy that we carry. Everything we find for K&L comes in and out so fast you practically have to make up your mind the day it lands. How much will be enough to last you through the winter? Six bottles? A case? If it's affordable and it tastes good now then it might as well be made of gold rather than grapes because the K&L staff is just as rabid for drinkable red Burgundy as I am, so we can easily clean out the company in matter of days. When you factor in our customers, you've got to be fast! You've got to make a commitment.
What do I mean by "drinkable" red Burgundy? Certainly David you could drink any of the bottles on our shelves, but the question is should you? Young red Burgundy is usually quite acidic and can be rather tannic to boot. The fruit flavors of red Burgundy are also quite delicate, meaning they can get buried under all of that structure. The best red Burgundies are expensive because, in theory, they will be amazing - later. Opening them now might not yield anything better than what you could have drunk for $10. See my previous post for some of those examples. That being said, sometimes it's important to open a bottle young to get a sense of its potential, so don't feel like doing so would be an entire waste. I've been doing it all week and I've had a blast (but I'm also a notorious wine geek and booze professional, so whatever floats your boat). In order to make sure you've got drinkable Burgundy you need to be fast and furious, but you also need a cellar full of older vintages. Knowing what to put away requires a taste test.
Ultimately, the question is this: if you're at home, craving a glass of red Burgundy and you don't want to pull from your cellar (or you don't have a cellar), where do you look?
There are a couple of $10 options in the store that are quite pleasant:
The 2010 Nicolas Potel Bourgogne Rouge $11.99 and the 2009 Laboure Roi Bougogne Rouge $9.99 are two wonderful options for bargain hunters. They're not fruit forward like California wines however – they're structured and restrained, and they might take an hour in the decanter to show you what they're capable of. Once they open up a bit they show quite nicely. While you can get a great deal on these two bottles, if you're looking for something a bit more serious where do you turn? I tried what I thought were some serious bottles yesterday and I felt they weren't quite ready to be taken seriously yet.
Since this is a self-funded research project and I'm hoping to broaden my own knowledge, I decided to purchase both a more fruit-forward style and also a more rustic style of Burgundy tonight, hoping to contrast both styles against each other. The more old-school wine was the 2010 Chateau de la Charriére Santenay 1er Cru "Clos Rousseau" $23.99. This wine is from one of our newest direct import producers and it shows its traditional roots. The fruit is there, but it needs to be coaxed out from under the earthiness of the wine's core. It's a tasty throwback – a country wine that drinks beautifully after a good hour in the decanter. Just make sure you've got a roast chicken or hearty stew on hand because it needs a little support.
The 2010 Domaine Faiveley Mercurey "Les Villeranges" $19.99 is the approachable red Burgundy that everyone hopes they're getting before the tart, acidic core completely turns them away. The lush fruit is there right up front and the palate continues to quickly unwind with more air. Soft berries and a relatively firm acidity make this wine quite drinkable. The price is also fair. As of right now this is the best option we have in stock for those in search of a bottle to open today. I've been drinking it over the past hour with my Chinese food and it's really scratched that itch. It's that flavor profile I've been crazing.
Out of the more than 100 different bottles of red Burgundy we currently have in the store right now, these are the only four I have tasted that could (and maybe should) be opened right now. All four have merit and offer both value and typicity for the price point. Burgundy is simply a tough nut to crack. It can offer you the highest of highs, but the supply can be feast or famine. We're always on the lookout for more delicious options to drink now, but most likely we'll have to squirrel bottles away to avoid future shortages. It might cost you a few bucks in the short term in order to test out a few subjects, but your long term needs will be taken care of if you find something with potential.
We've got tons of potential at K&L. We've got a whole shelf full of potential. We can give you plenty of options to open down the line. in the meantime, how about nice glass of Chablis?