March 11, 2007

Affordable Burgundy Death Match

Not really a "death match" so to speak, that is mostly for dramatic value. This is a group tasting of four entry level Burgundy Pinot Noirs ($14-$20/bottle) that we have opened over the last few weeks. The goal here is to find really good value wines to fill out the lower end, every-day-drinking, table wine part of our cellar. We have mentioned this previously with various wines tasted here on winecommando, but we thought it would be fun to do a group comparison looking for bottles of wine that deliver value beyond their price and that provide a buffer against grabbing the really good wines too often (though we taste those too, just to see how they're coming along...). Let's get started.

2003 Domaine Vincent Sauvestre "Les Belles Roses" Bourgogne Grand Ordinaire (Meursault)
We decanted this wine for one hour before tasting and found the nose full of plum and strawberry with a little bit of a wet rock, minerally scent. The nose was surprisingly deep and rich, and the color in the glass equally so. It was dark garnet with the rusty reds around the ring of the glass. It looked beautiful. On the palate there was deep dark strawberry in an almost jammy fruit kind of way. There was cranberry in the finish, the way it reacts with the back of your tongue. Along the way we tasted earthy, autumnal flavors but they were incredibly subtle. Very balanced, light to medium bodied and wonderfully finished. This wine is significantly more sophisticated than the price. Seek out and drink more.
cost - $14.99

winecommando rating (1-10) - 8.5

2004 Nicolas Potel "Cuvee Gerard Potel" Bourgogne (Nuits-Saint-Georges)
This wine was opened and decanted for an hour before we tasted. When we tried it we found the wine to be thin and restrained. We let it sit for another hour and found it to have opened up a bit more. The nose was very distinctly full of dark cherry with a little bit of cedar and spiced fruit, like savory fruit preserves. The palate was very light, and remained thin. Flavors were cherry and raspberry, the sharper sides of those, and some smoky notes. Not a lot of depth, but still an elegant wine with good balance. This wine is definitely on the lighter side of Pinot Noir and the finish was short and very dry.
cost - $17.99

winecommando rating (1-10) - 7.25

2004 Jean Garaudet Hautes-Cotes de Beaune Bourgogne (Pommard)
This wine was particularly interesting. We decanted for an hour and a half and when we smelled and tasted it made us smile. Really interesting, deep and complex nose. There was vanilla and that baking cookies smell that some Pinot Noirs have in a really good way. The fruit was more cassis, with edges of plum and a little sweet grape juice. It smelled really good, very aromatic, but definitely not traditionally Burgundian. That's cool. In the glass it was a deep, dark, rich purple color and very dense. Also atypical for Burgundian Pinot Noir, especially at this level and price point. The palate was surprisingly Californian, and definitely pushed the fruit right out front. A lot of strawberry, rich and lush, balanced by good structure and a minerally quality. Definitely earthy, but the richness of the fruit makes for a great balance. Medium bodied, it is not overly sophisticated... more like a POW! in the face as it walks out of the room. We liked it because of this and because it was so different, so unexpected. Another really good value and a fun wine to contrast with more typical French Pinot Noirs.
cost - $16.99

winecommando rating (1-10) - 8.25

2005 Rene Lequin-Colin Bourgogne (Santenay)
I was excited to try this wine as it is the first I had seen at this level from what is really a very small, family driven and historically rooted Burgundian winemaker. This is another wine story that started with a merger by marriage, and the Lequin-Colin family can trace their vineyard holdings back to the mid-1600's. It is still a small operation with the focus steadfastly on quality, not quantity, with vineyards maintained for low, concentrated yields of excellent quality fruit and a belief in the historical traditions of winemaking... basically being "intimate" with their vineyards and doing as much by hand as possible.

We decanted for an hour or so and when smelled found the nose rich, round and opulent. This was a little bit surprising, given that this wine is a 2005 and was only released last year. It is a table wine, though, and was clearly vinted to begin drinking. The nose was a little floral and fragrant, and offered black cherry, spiced plum and a little black pepper. The palate was velvety smooth, very balanced and had the same dark cherry fruit, a nice spicy quality, some earthy richness, and a smooth, quite finish. Really, a very nice wine for the money and given that the grapes are sourced from the families holdings in Santenay (a solidly prestigious area of Burgundy) and while they may not have been good enough to make it into the families Santenay, my guess is they were excellent by most standards and result in a really terrific value wine for us. We will be having more of this wine on hand.
cost - $18.99

winecommando rating (1-10) - 8.0


Suzanne said...

I just found your blog.....fantastic tasting notes and writing. So glad I found you.

sanspotash said...

Thanks! We're really glad you found winecommando too. Hope we keep you coming back.