Simon with terroir expert Francoise Vannir on a recent trip to Burgundy
Burgundy as a wine region is a long vertical ramble from Chablis in the north to Beaujolais in the south. It contains some of the most famous vineyards on the planet such as Romanée Conti and Le Montrachet. However, Grand Cru wines, which is the top classification, represent only about 1% of the total acreage under vine, and Premier Cru, the second level, just 10%. The largest portion of vines are Village, or simply fall under a regional classification -- this is where you can find the best value wines if you know where to look!
Navigating all the wines of Burgundy can take a lifetime of drinking and studying. While many of us would love to dedicate 20 years to reach the ‘Tipping Point’ (not the falling over point) of becoming a Burgundy expert, most of us have day jobs and life to contend with. Fortunately, Wine Friends is here to wisely point you in the direction of little gems, such as those we discovered this week, rather than you stressing your liver tasting too many wines that just are not up to scratch.
Saint Veran is a sub region of the Macon wine region, which is one of the most southerly areas of Burgundy. It is slightly warmer and the whites from here tend to have a richer, honeycomb aspect to them with great palate weight. Domaine Carrette is a small family run winery, and we absolutely fell in love with their Saint Veran ‘Les Mures’. This is made from Chardonnay grapes sourced from the Lieu Dit (or vineyard) called ‘Les Mures’. Les Mures, literally means 'prominent rock' and is regarded as one of the most exceptional pieces of terroir in this area. The name is not surprising as it sits beneath the rocky buttress of the mountain Solutre. With a northerly exposure and ground made of limestone and clay, it creates a wine of textural wonder. The paradox of richness and stunning minerality is just a revelation. Candied lemon and sage-like herbs softly run about your palate while leaving a long, long finish to ponder. This is a white that can stand up to a lot of richer foods. My mind immediately went to caramelized scallops in a lemon tarragon sauce, but pork and apple dishes, roast lemon chicken, and rich washed rind cheeses like Munster will all give you chills when paired with this.
Heading up north to the Cote de Beaunes, and above the famed vineyards of Montrachet, is the Haut-Cotes de Beaunes, which covers a higher altitude area where harvest is often a week or so later than average due to the cooler climate. HereDavid Trouselle, a tiny producer, makes just a small amount of Pinot in an area better known for chardonnay. This wine stopped us in our tracks. It has a beguiling nose full of bright fruit perfume and hints of baking spices, which are more than a little sultry. The palate has a richness and depth of character with notes of raspberries, spicy plums, and a touch of cocoa. This is just one of those Burgundy gems that makes all the time hunting worth it. While this is excellent to sip and savour on its own, it is perfect for duck and mushroom dishes, or even something richer like Coq au Vin.
These wines swept us all away and are just incredible value to boot. I can’t recommend enough to stock pile in your cellars and enjoy again and again.