During the fall and winter holidays, heavier white wines tend to be in higher demand. The hearty dishes match well with many wines, however, and with Thanksgiving coming up the one wine that typically has a place at the table is chardonnay.
Some of you might be saying, “I don’t drink chardonnay.” And, a few are no doubt thinking, “What, how can anyone not like chardonnay?” Everyone has different tastes, yet many chardonnay-phobes and -philes do not realize that it comes in a variety of styles and from many regions. Some who profess to detest what is widely considered a noble variety are more than happy to be served a Meursault or Puligny Montrachet, given the chance.
There is no question that these appellations, along with Chassagne Montrachet, Corton and Beaune, produce ethereal wines with complexity that only their specific terroirs can grant, and I would not suggest a California chardonnay in its place. However, if I want white Burgundy to drink now, often and with friends, other communes or Bourgogne Blanc made from top producers are what I’m going to seek out, as it has become increasingly difficult to find wines from top spots for less than $40 a bottle.
However, if you want something a little bit special but not too dear for the holidays, there are quite a few very good white Burgundies that will give chardonnay haters reason to pause.
Domaine de la Confrerie Bourgogne Hautes-Côtes de Beaune Blanc, 2010: Christophe Pauchard started Domaine de la Confrerie in the Hautes-Côtes de Beaune in 1991. He has also ventured into Volnay, Beaune and Meursault, With notes of honey, toasted almonds and red apples, this simple Bourgogne reminds me a lot of the latter. Retail price: $20
Domaine de la Sarazinière Mâcon-Bussières, Claude Seigneuret, 2012: Claude Seigneuret founded this property in 1926 and the vines that were used to make this wine are from the original plantings. Although it was fermented in oak and only 10 percent was new, there are just traces of wood to be found. With splashes of citrus and spice, the stony and chalk-laden soil takes center stage with an indelible mineral intensity. Retail price: $22
Château de Puligny Montrachet Bourgogne Blanc, Clos du Château, 2011: Until about 10 years ago, when Etienne de Montille became managing director, this historic estate was foundering. Montille, who is one of the owners of Domaine de Montille in Volnay, purchased the property in 2012. Since Montille came on board, Château de Puligny Montrachet has converted to biodynamic viticulture and lowered its use of new oak. There has been a dramatic improvement in the wines, emblemized by this terrific Bourgogne Blanc. It is made from a 4.5-acre parcel of “village” level Puligny Montrachet fruit that was planted in 1990. Refined with apples, cream and buttered rice, and enlivened with a fresh minerality, it is worth a little extra splurge. Retail price: $30
These wines can be found at Bi-Rite Grocery, Draegers, Paul Marcus Wines, Prima, Upper Terrace, Vintage Berkeley and Weimax. Pamela S. Busch is a wine writer and educator who has owned several wine bars in San Francisco, including Hayes and Vine and CAV Wine Bar & Kitchen.