A Case of Affordable Burgundies

A Case of Affordable Burgundies

Wine of the WeekDomaine Bouchard Père & Fils 2005 Beaune du Château 1er Cru, Burgundy, France ($41.95, 91 points, 901199)Tasted twice in the past week, and my estimation grows. Fragrant, inviting nose rises from the glass with lovely smoky, creamy and spicy barrel notes that nicely frame ripe cranberry-cherry fruit. Mid-weight, firm and a bit aggressive for now, with slightly green tannin and a bitter cranberry finish. Excellent length and flavour focus. Best 2011 to 2015. In Vintages Nov. 10.

When I conducted an “Affordable Burgundy” seminar for the National Capital Sommelier Guild at the Ottawa Wine and Food Show on Sunday most snickered at the title. Burgundy is historically considered one of the most expensive wine regions on the planet, and depending on the viewpoint of the beholder, one of the most overvalued. But without spending more than $40—an amount many might spend to enhance a fine weekend meal—it is indeed possible to find a decent white or red Burgundy nowadays. One key is to look for the excellent 2005 vintage, which is one of the finest I have ever tasted. Also look for village wines instead of premier crus, and seek out wines of less famous appellations. As well, don’t fear to look to some of the larger producers who have economy of scale on their side. Most who ship into Ontario have begun to produce much cleaner, more fruit-driven and better-balanced wines in recent years. Here are the wines we tasted—all are available at Vintages now or are being released in a small, special Burgundy release on Saturday, Nov. 10.

Under $20Patriarche 2005 Pinot Noir, Burgundy, France ($16.15, 86 points, 23903)Disarmingly pale but charming pinot with a mild, soft nose of sweet cherry with a touch of tobacco and wood spice. Light bodied, warm, gentle with a dusting of dry tannin. Good length. Now to 2009. LCBO.

Maison Champy 2005 Signature Bourgogne, Burgundy, France ($18.95, 87 points, 1149)Young, tight and tense but has wonderful fruit expression with generous piquant cranberry-cherry nose and well-proportioned clove and wood smoke in the background. Light to mid-weight, firm, a bit tart and tannic with very good length. Best 2009 to 2013. In Vintages Nov. 10.

Louis Jadot 2005 Bourgogne Chardonnay, Burgundy, France ($19.95, 89 points, 933077)Generously barrel aged with rich style, offering authentic Burgundy character. Complex and interesting pear, cashew, spiced apple and peat smoke aromas. Mid-weight, elegant and firm with a lemon, spice, mineral and lemony finish. Vintages Essential.

Chanson Père & Fils 2005 Le Bourgogne Pinot Noir, Burgundy, France ($19.95, 89 points, 50575)Recent Vintages Essentials listing from a rejuvenated producer. Stylish, light pinot noir with bright, fresh aromas of cherry, vanilla, spice and vague pine scents. Slender yet well structured (like so many 2005s) with a dry, slightly tart and slightly tannic finish. Very good length. Best 2009 to 2011. Vintages.

Joseph Drouhin 2005 Côte de Beaune-Villages, Burgundy, France ($19.95, 88 points, 47845)Price has come down a bit while quality is up in this excellent vintage. Pretty, charming, floral raspberry with background wood smoke and spice. Light bodied, well balanced with tense, firm acidity and a dry earthy finish. Good length. Best 2008 to 2011. LCBO.

$20 to $30William Fevre 2006 Champs Royaux, Chablis ($20.30, 89 Points, 276436)Classic basic Chablis—an ideal intro for those who’ve not tried it before. Aromas of flint, mineral, lemon and Granny Smith apple. Clean, dry and elegant with good fruit character and mineral complexity. Great with shrimp or scallops. LCBO.

Maison Champy 2005 Pernand-Vergelesses, Burgundy, France ($29.95, 90 points, 8151)From a smaller, lesser-known appellation tucked behind the more famous hill of Corton, this chardonnay has generous almost lavish aromas of cashew, butter-mint candy, peach and lanolin/wax notes. Medium-full bodied, rich, chunky with some firm acidity and excellent length. In Vintages Nov. 10.

Maison Champy 2005 Savigny-Les-Beaune Aux Fourches, Burgundy, France ($29.95, 88 points, 43463)More stuffing than I expect from Savigny, in a crusty, firm style that needs cellaring. Reserved cherry and red currant fruit, spice and some freshly dug potato earthiness. Mid-weight, dry and tannic, but like so many 2005s it salvages some proportion. Very good length. Best 2009 to 2012. Vintages. Largest stocks (just over 100 bottles) at the Summerhill and Queens Quay locations.

$30 to $40Domaine Jean Collet & Fils 2005 Chablis Vaillons 1er Cru, Burgundy, France ($30.95, 89 points, 650804)No oak here; it’s an intense, straightforward chardonnay with quite deep yellow colour and a fairly complex nose of apple, herbs, grapefruit and hard white cheese—quite typical Chablis profile. Medium weight, intense and a bit sour but very good to excellent flavour length. In Vintages Nov. 10.

Joseph Drouhin 2005 Morey-Saint-Denis, Burgundy, France ($38.65, 89 points, 980201)Stock running down on this sale item, reduced from $55. From a very good, typical lighter year, it is just moving into prime with garnet colour and a complex, well-layered bouquet of cranberry-cherry fruit, wood smoke, autumn leaves and damp earth. Mid-weight, slim and quite delicate with a more firm, dry, mineral finish. Very good length. Vintages. Largest remaining stock (34 bottles) at Bayview and Sheppard, and 20 bottles at Royal York and Bloor.

Parent 2005 1er Cru de Ladoix, Burgundy, France ($39.75, 88 points, 41079)This venerable house produces a classic style with flavours featuring mineral, forest floor characteristics. Also quite generous sour cherry and currant jam fruit with smoky notes. It’s medium bodied, smooth yet firm. Very nicely balanced with a bit of dry tannin. Very good to excellent length. Best 2009 to 2012. Vintages. Largest stock (91 bottles) at Bayview and Sheppard.