“It’s not like all the Burgundy lovers all over the world are just going to start drinking Oregon Pinot Noir or Bordeaux” my response to a rather worried faced Burgundian that was, timidly explaining why prices are going to take a spike upward and availability on our beloved wines from the region is expected to be, for lack of a better term, tight. Four vintages, (2011, 2012, 2013 and now after some summer hail, 2014, although a warm dry summer may be helping a little) of seriously formidable weather, in some severe cases losses of up to 80% of their crop in certain villages, have wedged the Burgundians right between a rock and a very hard place. While there are still gorgeous wines to get, with some winemakers saying that 2012 was one of the finest vintages they’ve seen, in terms of quality, in a very long time but with miniscule amounts of wine to share, and sell, the small farmers in the region are left wringing their cracked, stained hands and being forced to raise prices across the board just to keep afloat.
We heard it over and over again this past April as I walked the woefully under-stuffed cellars in Burgundy, winemakers trying their best to sound optimistic while also hoping to prepare us. The importer I was traveling with also fearful as she heard allocations, on even village level wines, slashed by up to two thirds. Tasting through those stunning wines, the pure expression of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, the grim news of shortages and higher prices couldn’t cloud the beauty of the wines or the spirit of the gracious people of the region. I meant what I said to that small producer in Aloxe-Corton, once you’ve fallen in love with Burgundy no other wine can do the same things to and for you. No other wine can make you crave the way that Burgundy does, make those tiny hairs on the back of your neck wiggle and stand tall. There are wines the world over that, it can be argued, are just as good but for those of us that hear the whisper of Burgundy and can feel it calling us, only the wines from that tiny region can calm that stir…and fire us up again. Pommard and Volnay may be more expensive than they were a few vintages ago, that is if you can even find any before collectors gobble them up, but there are still places to find Burgundian fruit with prices that won’t make feeding that sexy Burgundy monkey on our backs quite so painful.
2012 Sylvain Pataille Marsannay ($41.99)
Marsannay is a village located at the northern end of the Cote de Nuits, its most well-known neighbor being Gevrey-Chambertin, was once only known for their production of Rose, not the case anymore, and it is producers like Sylvain Pataille that are leading the way, and in many cases surpassing those in villages with far more prestigious names. Loads of dark fruit here, like black cherries but with some cola, roasted coffee and kisses of soy. Flirty and supple on the palate with a wonderful bite of super-fine tannin. Drinks far and above its appellation.
2012 Sylvain Pataille Marsannay Les Longeroies ($58.99)
Many have said that they believe Les Longeroies should be elevated to Premier Cru status and it takes just a few spins in the glass to figure out why. Deeper, darker, spicier, sprinkled with rose petals and crushed red fruit. Full and sexy on the palate but with a vibrancy that keeps the wine from feeling out of balance, or like it came from anywhere but Burgundy. I was only able to get one case of this suggestive wine so grab it while you can. Pataille is gathering a huge fan base, one that will nab this the second they see it.
2011 Domaine Charles Audoin Marsannay Les Longeroies ($34.99)
A very traditional Burgundy here, meaning lots of savory notes interplaying with sweet roasted red fruits. A lighter Pinot Noir on the palate with plenty of sassy green aromas and spice for days. Shows better the longer it’s in the glass so decanting helps this juicy and delicious Pinot Noir show all it has to give.
2011 Domaine Prieur-Brunet Santenay-Maladiere 1er Cru ($35.99)
Such a pretty and elegant Pinot Noir. Gentle, tart red cherries dance along the sides of this light and graceful wine. Plenty of earthy flavors along with the red fruit, some mossy, mushroom and charred meat flavors as well as a wonderful blast of not-yet-ripe strawberries. Lovely wine for simple meals where it won’t have to fight big flavors. Drinking good now but could improve with a year or two in the cellar.
2010 Domaine Berthelemot Monthelie ($37.99)
Showing a light texture but one completely packed with sweet juicy black cherries, grilled meats, dark roast coffee and faint bits of teriyaki. Lots of stuffing here for a wine with such a shy price tag. The flavors are long, the tannin firm and the pleasure immense and the amount of wine to get, tiny. Pick up a couple steaks full of marbling, toss them on the grill pour yourself a deep glass of this wine and enjoy.