Top-notch white Burgundies are a relative bargain in Pa.
By The Tribune-Review
Published: Tuesday, May 14, 2013, 8:48 p.m.
Chardonnay, the most popular white-skinned grape, attains its zenith in a narrow sliver of land around the Burgundy villages of Meursault, Puligny-Montrachet and Chassagne-Montrachet.
There, limestone-rich soils combine with hundreds of years of collective winemaking savoir-faire to render exquisitely balanced white wines.
Always-elevated white Burgundy prices in the United States have spiked in recent years with a weak dollar and growing Asian demand. So with acclaimed white vintages such as 2010, what should Pennsylvania consumers passionate about white Burgundy do?
Thanks to savvy dealing on the part of the PLCB's French specialty buyer, Jennifer Brown, Pennsylvanians enjoy the nation's lowest prices on wines from some of white Burgundy's top producers.
A comparison usi ng www.winesearcher.com show s Pennsylvania bottle prices coming in $5 to $15 lower than prices at leading retailers such as Zachy's in New York and MacArthur Beverages in Washington, D.C.
How does the PLCB do it?
In a word, leverage. The PLCB buys more wine than any other retailer. Why not negotiate with importers to give aggressive pricing on top-end wines?
It makes perfect sense, while running counter to the current push for privatization as a means to advancing Pennsylvania consumers' interests. Eliminating the PLCB might actually result in higher white Burgundy prices. But let's not digress.
The producers available in Pennsylvania include Domaine Pierre Matrot, Domaine Ramonet and Domaine Michel Niellon.
“It represents an all-star line of white Burgundy makers,” says Don Dombrosky, a Pittsburgh-based sommelier and bartender who spent 10 years selling top wines at New York City's The River Café.
So what makes white Burgundy so irresistible?
“The best examples are complex and rich without being forceful,” Dombrosky says. “They are just so delicious and great with food.”
The village of Meursault unfurls around a small hill crowned by a bustling, well-kept central square bracketed by City Hall, various shops and restaurants and the village church. While ambassador to France, Thomas Jefferson visited and fell head over heels for the now-famous Meursault “Goutte D'Or” Premier Cru white.
Today, winegrower Thierry Matrot works as a third-generation producer out of a snug home and wine cellar down the hill from the church. He tends just over 40 acres of vineyards spread throughout Meursault and neighboring terroirs.
As a traditionalist, Matrot works to express each vineyard's distinct subtle traits and differences. As such, he eschews finishing the wines with excessive oak-barrel aging prior to bottling.
For example, the 2010 Pierre Matrot Meursault, France (Luxury 31490; $40.99) unfolds without a hint of new oak. As a blend of fruit from 11 distinct vineyards, it offers an affordable introduction to Meursault's classic charms.
The golden color offers complex baked-apple, citrus and honey aromas. Ripe citrus, pear and pineapple flavors layer with zesty, refreshing acidity and mineral notes. The finish — at once ripe and round, yet dry — lingers beautifully. Highly recommended.
Just down the road in the village of Chassagne-Montrachet, winegrower Noël Ramonet carries on traditions of excellence handed down by his legendary grandfather, the late Pierre Ramonet.
The excellent 2010 Domaine Ramonet Chassagne-Montrachet, France (Luxury 31176; $48.99, available at the Penn Circle store) bears Noël's exuberant stamp. Fresh, bursting citrus aromas and pleasant vanilla notes open into succulent fruity flavors. Razor-sharp acidity frames the fruity, yet elegantly dry, finish. Highly Recommended.
Finally, the immensely talented and engaging Michel Niellon drives a World War II-vintage jeep while producing miniscule amounts of exquisitely rich and complex Chassagne-Montrachet. His delicious 2010 Domaine Michel Niellon Chassagne-Montrachet “Champsgain” Premier Cru, France (Luxury 31134; $74.99, available at Penn Circle and Wexford stores) illustrates perfectly with ample flavors and seamless balance. Recommended.
Dave DeSimone is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Kovacevic: Bylsma’s moves — yes, moves — pay off
- McKeesport Area students may ‘have their cake and eat it too’
- New Kensington-Arnold lays groundwork for consolidation
- Apollo proposes wide-ranging ordinance on rental properties
- Clairton marks Month of Young Child with parade, assembly
- Penguins rally to escape with a victory in Game 1 against Columbus
- Mogie’s in Lower Burrell subject of hearing by Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board for noise
- 2 serious in New Ken stabbings
- Physical Columbus team is a hit in playoff opener against Penguins
- Ballot issue to seek 0.25-mill property tax increase to support Springdale Free Public Library
- Obama hopes to replicate CCAC job training efforts across United States