Since I wrote about white Burgundy available for less than $30 last week, it is only fair that I dedicate this week’s column to its red counterpart, though I’m going to stretch it to under $40.
Needless to say, the reds can be just as expensive as the whites, perhaps even more. Also, Chablis is all about white wine, so if you are looking for reds, you have only four subregions — the Maconnais, Cote Chalonnais, the Cote de Beaune and the Cote de Nuits. Very good wines are made in all, but the wines that get Burgundy snobs “ohhh”-ing and “ahhh”-ing are from the Cote de Nuits. Heck, they make me “oooh” and “ahhh,” too, so maybe I’m a snob as well, but I don’t drink these wines on a regular basis. The nice thing is that there are alternatives in the form of village level cuvees and wines from the other areas.
Before getting into recommendations, there is one thing that must be said; nothing really tastes quite like Burgundy. It might be fairy dust, but Burgundy’s terroir is unique, magical and ethereal. There are excellent pinot noirs made elsewhere, yet the range of flavors and core character that is found in Burgundy’s red wines are like nothing else. Like the white wines, the fruit rarely dominates, but is noticeable: If the wine is of quality and becomes intertwined with other characteristics.
These three wines are not just good for the money, but are superior to a number of wines that are more expensive. Now that I’ve got you salivating, here are three to run out and drink.
Domaine Contat-Grange Bourgogne Pinot Noir, 2010: Contat-Grange is located in Maranges and, as such, has very good sources to make this wine. Maranges used to be an outright steal, but since the secret got out, the wines are not as inexpensive as they used to be ... or is that inflation? Nonetheless, this wine is absolutely worth it and then some. Floral and a little smoky with juicy cherry and raspberry fruit as well as hordes of terroir, this pinot noir blows away many others that are double the price. Suggested retail: $22
Domaine Pavelot Pernand Vergelesses, 2009: Pernand Vergelesses is located in the north of the Cote de Beaune near Corton. The Pavelot family has been making wine in the area since at least the 17th century and they are considered one of the top producers. The new generation, Luc and Lise Pavelot, worked at Navarro Vineyards in Mendocino and Domaine Dageneau in the Loire Valley, respectively. Smoky with cherries, burnt orange and a balsamic note, this modest-level village wine completely overdelivers. Suggested retail: $30
Domaine Jaeger-Defaix Rully, 1er Cru Clos de Chapitre, 2009: If the name Defaix sounds familiar, it is because this family has a long history in Chablis. Helene Jaeger-Defaix is Bernard Defaix’s daughter-in-law. Since 2002, she has been making wine from her family’s land in Rully, in the Cotes Chalonnaise, about an hour south of Chablis. While the winemaking philosophy — one that stresses minimal intervention — is the same, the two terroirs are quite different. This may be a red wine, but it has the leanness and great acidity that Chablis producers are accustomed to. With bacon, mushrooms and dried flowers in the nose, caramel, pomegranate, cola and Jolly Ranchers on the palate, this is quite a wine, one that is well worth the money. Suggested retail: $37
Pamela S. Busch is the owner of Skrewcap.com, founder of CAV Wine Bar and a Bay Area wine consultant. Please submit questions to Pamela@Skrewcap.com.