4 top Négociants' 2015 red burgundies to sample
Within Burgundy’s tremendously diverse wine growing landscape, négociants play a pivotal role. Traditionally these family-owned, commercial merchant firms purchased either fruit or unfinished wines in casks under long-term contract with small, independent grape growers. The négociants (neh-go-see-ahns) then age, blend, bottle and label the wines under their own brands for commercialization around the world.
Since the Second World War, outside companies have purchased several of the leading négociant firms. Meanwhile the négociants maintain long-term grower contracts, and many négociants also have become proprietors of significant vineyard holdings in their own right. Négociants remain good sources of reliable quality and value especially with wines from modest appellations in successful vintages. Try, for example, the following 2015 red Burgundy wines:
2015 Maison Joseph Drouhin, “Laforêt” Bourgogne Pinot Noir, France
(PLCB Code: 4546; $18.99): After 138 years in business, the fourth generation of the Drouhin family still owns and manages this highly regarded merchant firm. Their headquarters in the walled city of Beaune sits atop several important historical sites including the Cellars of the Collégiale Church, a 13th century vaulted cellar still used to age the firm’s most prestigious wines. The 2015 vintage’s extra ripeness enabled winemaker Véronique Drouhin-Boss to produce this modest Bourgogne Pinot Noir wine with immediately appealing fruitiness balanced with good backbone. Ripe black cherry and spicy, earthy aromas unfold to fresh raspberry and cherry flavors. Fresh acidity and smooth tannins frame the fruity, elegant finish. Pair it with grilled center cut pork chops. Recommended.
2015 Louis Jadot, Bourgogne Pinot Noir, France
(Luxury 74954; $19.99): In 1859 the Jadot family started this venerable firm owned today by the American Kopf family, but still ably managed by Burgundy native Pierre-Henry Gagey. This wine comes from Pinot Noir grown in the “regional” Bourgogne appellation vineyards, but it also includes wines declassified from higher level village appellations for added depth. Dark red fruit and smoky, earthy aromas open to ripe, zesty red fruit on the palate. Crunchy, fresh acidity and silky tannins give the wine a little silky elegance. Pair it with grilled kielbasa. Highly Recommended.
2015 Maison Folly, Bourgogne Pinot Noir “Vieilles Vignes, France (Luxury 74472; $19.99): Veteran English wine buyer Graham Gardner has long represented top Côtes de Nuits growers in selling their fruit and unfinished wines to négociants . But as a “micro” — négociant himself, he also buys bottled wines and then markets them under the Maison Folly label through an American import/distributor partner. In this case the wine comes from old Pinot Noir vines for delicious, bright red cherry fruit, good depth, and fine freshness. Firm, yet elegant tannins provide balance and structure. Pair it with grilled rib-eye steaks. Highly Recommended.
2015 Bouchard Père Fils, Côte de Beaune-Villages, France
(Luxury 74264; $29.99): Founded in 1731, today the Henriot family from Champagne directs the Bouchard Père Fils firm which owns over three hundred acres of vineyards in prime locations. Over two million bottles age patiently in the deep, cool cellars below the firm’s home in Château de Beaune, a 15 th century royal fortress with thick stone walls and massive, moated towers. This tasty wine comes from purchased Pinot Noir grapes grown in limestone and clay soils in various villages around Beaune. The higher-level fruit enhances the depth of this classy, beautifully balanced red. It offers black cherry fruit, medium concentration, good freshness and soft tannins. Pair it with grilled wild-caught salmon steaks. Highly Recommended.
Dave DeSimone is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.