The Wine Cellar: New to white Burgundies? 4 to get you started
For varied styles and solid values in wines made from Chardonnay, France's Burgundy region leads the pack. Located just southeast of Paris, the region's vines unfurl on rolling hillsides with diverse limestone and clay soils.
The soils allow the grapes to develop distinctive freshness and concentration. Meanwhile the climate of warm, generally sunny summer days and relatively cool, breezy days in early September consistently ripens the Chardonnay fruit with complex aromas and delicious flavors.
Steadily improving farming practices in Burgundy also play a critical role. Wine growers increasingly work more precisely in the vineyards while minimizing chemical treatments to combat vine diseases, weeds and pests. More flavorful, intriguing fruit results.
Taken all together, this gives value-minded wine drinkers a bounty of terrific choices from one end of Burgundy to the other. Try the following for a tasty introduction:
• 2015 Jean-Marc Brocard, Petit Chablis, France (Luxury 48607; $19.99). This tasty wine comes from organically cultivated Chardonnay vines growing in Portlandien soils in the northern part of Burgundy. The brownish clay soils with moderate amounts of limestone create a fruity, round wine with hints of the region's trademark smoky “gunflint” aromas. A fresh vein of acidity lifts the fruity, but dry finish. Pair it with fresh oysters on the half shell. Recommended.
• 2016 Domaine Chavy-Chouet, Bourgogne Blanc “Les Femelottes,” France (Luxury 73662; $22.99). Further south in Burgundy's Côte-d'Or region, grower Romaric Chavy lives in charming village of Meursault, one of the most famous white wine appellations. After taking the reins of this family operation, he expanded exports to 45 countries which has enhanced the domaine's reputation significantly.
This delicious wine serves as his entry-level “calling card,” and Chavy uses Chardonnay fruit from neighboring Puligny-Montrachet, another of Burgundy's top white wine appellations. The wine's golden color offers classic apple and subtle toasty aromas. Round, ripe apple flavors and fresh mineral notes layer with well-integrated vanilla accents imparted from aging 10 percent of the wine in new oak barrels. Fine freshness carries the dry, yet juicy finish. Pair it with grilled salmon steaks. Highly Recommended.
• 2015 Domaine Thomas Morey, Bourgogne Blanc, France (Luxury 74261; $29.99). Like his now retired winegrower father, Bernard, Thomas Morey is a classic Burgundy character focused on working in the vineyard soils to produce the best quality fruit. He farms organically and allows fermentations to occur naturally to capture the fruit's purity and complexity.
For this wine, he uses Chardonnay fruit from his home village of Chassagne-Montrachet with a combination of older vines planted in brown clay and younger vines planted primarily in hard limestone soils.
In the cellar, he works with a confident, restrained hand to produce a wine with ripe, fresh aromas and flavors, refreshing mineral notes and beautiful balance. Taken all together, it is a delicious wine ready for enjoyment. Pair it with grilled tuna steaks. Highly Recommended.
• 2015 Domaine Catherine and Didier Tripoz, Bourgogne Blanc “Vieilles Vignes,” France (Luxury 37804—Waterworks Store only; $14.99). Catherine and Didier, a charming husband and wife wine-growing team, have for 30 years worked in the Mâcon, Burgundy's southern-most region and a hub for white wine production. They work the vines by hand and generally follow organic practices without chemical applications. In the cellar, they produce well-balanced, crisp wines with subtle oak influences.
This wine comes from 60-year old vines and offers lovely white flower, ripe citrus and honey notes leading to fresh citrus flavors with good concentration. Rich acidity provides fine balance through the dry finish. Pair it with a Salade Niçoise with tuna, green beans and hard-boiled eggs. Highly Recommended.
Dave DeSimone is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.