Monday, November 19, 2007

Silver Burgundy Roudup - WBW #39

There are lots of things that I like about this edition of Wine Blogging Wednesday. There were many new participants - some newer bloggers, and also some established bloggers jumped into the WBW fray for the first time this month. I enjoyed reading your reactions to the wines of the Côte Chalonnaise and the Mâconnais, particularly from the folks who were first trying these wines, and having a good time doing so.

Not everyone loved wine they tasted, but on the whole the experience was clearly a positive one. Many delicious wines were identified, most of them under $25. Some are surprisingly inexpensive. Before getting into the specifics, here are a few things that jump out at me when looking at our notes as a whole:

  • 9 out of the 14 reds tasted were from the 2005 vintage, a ripe and glorious year. But maybe the tannins in these wines have not yet begun to resolve, and the wines do not yet show balance. Some folks found their 05 red to be a bit young.
  • Vieille Vignes (old vines) seems to have a big impact in the Côte Chalonnaise and the Mâconnais. By this I mean that the wines designated as Vieille Vignes tended to truly be a step up from their "regular" counterparts, and were almost universally well reviewed. This is probably true in most wine regions, but maybe not…a topic for a future WBW?
  • 1er Cru wines were no more successful according to our tasters than village or regional wines. As I keep hearing (and learning for myself) about Burgundy - it's all about the producer. Vintage matters, so does the level of wine, but it all comes down to the producer. A good producer makes good wine...period. Grand Cru wine from a poor producer might not be as good as a regional Bourgogne made by a great producer.

So now to a summary, and then the bloggers and the wines.

WBW #39 - Wines of the Côte Chalonnaise and the Mâconnais

Participants: 36
Wines reviewed: 52
Mâconnais wines: 33
Côte Chalonnaise wines: 18
Côte d'Or wines (whoops, a la Dr. Vino): 1
Whites: 38 (30 from the Mâconnais)
Reds: 14 (12 were from the Côte Chalonnaise)
Most Common Vintage: 25 wines from 2005
Youngest Wine: 2007
Oldest Wine: 1996
Level of wines: 6 1er Cru wines; 32 Village wines; 14 Regional wines
Most Common Village: 7 wines from Mercurey
Most Common Mâcon Village: 4 wines from Viré-Clessé
Number of Mâcon villages represented: 11
Total Number of villages in the Mâcon with the right to appellation: 43
Most Common Producer: André Bonhommie, Comte Lafon, and Jean Manciat
Most Common Pricing: 31 wines were between $16-25
Least Expensive Wine: $3.99 (no lie, pal)
Most Expensive Wine: ask Dr. Weingolb
Tasting wine: Priceless
Number of Bloggers who Tasted Wine While Actually in the Mâconnais: 1
Number of You Wishing That I Just Get on with the Round Up: get over it

And in no particular order other than whites first...

Bert of the Wine Terroirs blog visits Guy Blanchard in Mercy, Mâconnais and tastes through a wide lineup of whites, including the very young 2007s. In this post you can see photos of the cellar, the producer petting his cat, the producer looking like Vincent Price, and most importantly, an amazing photo where you can literally see the difference between organically and non-organically farmed vineyards. This is Bert's first time participating in WBW, but he is a prolific blogger. Hopefully he will be back for more.

Lyle Fass of Rockss and Fruit also participates for the first time, writing about a Tres Vieille Vignes 2005 Mâcon Bussieres by Eric Texier. These are 100 year old vines (!!!) and at under $25 a bottle, Lyle says the wine is glorious, using the highly descriptive and evocative notes that he always manages to bring to the table.

David of McDuff's Food and Wine Trail reaches into his cellar for a couple of 2002's by one of his favorite producers, André Bonhomme. He tastes a Viré-Clessé and a Vieille Vignes Viré-Clessé and finds them both to be excellent, but the VV wine is deeper, bearing some resemblance to a Meursault. Want to really learn something about Viré-Clessé, a great producer in the Mâconnais, or about wine in general - check this out.

Eddie of Oeno Not Another Wine Blog, another first time participant, also tasted a wine by André Bonhomme, a 2004 Viré-Clessé. Eddie says he is still learning to trust his nose and palate, and he’s not ashamed to say that he had trouble identifying the aromas and flavors. But he liked the wine, which is a good thing. I’m sure we’ll see more of him.

Katherine at Purple Liquid also tasted a wine from Viré-Clessé, this one made by a larger négociant house. She enjoyed the 2005 Maison Chanson Viré-Clessé, and offers up a nice recipe for poached fish to go with it.

Andrea, the Wine Scamp, tasted a couple of whites and gave them both rave reviews
. We're talking about an 05 Michel Cheveau Mâcon-Solutré-Pouilly (on which some jerk scooped her) and an 06 Chateau de la Greffiere Mâcon La Roche Vineuse Vieille Vignes. At $14 somewhere in the middle of Texas, this old vines wine might be the best value of the event. Okay, so it didn't pair well with her Brie and hazelnuts, but it sounds like excellent wine. It inspired the Scamp to share some great notes and ideas about cool weather and white wine - check it out.

Jeff at Indiscriminate Ideas writes about all sorts of stuff, from philosophy to food, and now, to wine. This is his first time participating in WBW and he appreciates our collective gentle touch. He found what sounds like one heck of a bottle, the 2005 Domaine Alain Normand Mâcon La Roche-Vineuse, and at $17 he says it's "worth every penny."

Joe at Joe's Wine and and Erika at StrumErika both tasted the same Bourgogne wine by A & P Villaine. Villaine is the wine maker at a little Domaine called Romanee Conti, maybe you've heard of it. This is a case where a good producer can make regional wine that rivals or exceeds "higher level" wine by other producers. Joe really liked the wine, a 2005. Erika wasn't so sure about the 2003 she drank. It was a hot hot hot year with low low low acidity...

Three people tasted wines made by the venerable Comte Lafon, a Domaine based in Meursault in the Côte d’Or. Lafon’s Montrachet and Meursault sell for LOTS of money, and are some of the more sought after wines in Burgundy. So when Lafon bought land in the Mâconnais, people rightly took it as a sign of the potential quality of the terroir.

John, the Corkdork, tasted a 2003 Comte Lafon Mâcon Milly Lamartine, and he highly recommends it, and also trying Lafon's Mâconnais wines in general. Edward, the Wino Sapien tasted the same wine from the 2004 vintage, and thought it was excellent. He had to shell out quite a few Australian dollars for the bottle, but it sounds like he got a good value.

Mike from Wicker Parker, another first time participant, also tasted the 2004. It got its third excellent review. Mike didn’t stop there though, the first wine was way too good. He also tasted two reds, both by François Raquillet, both from Mercurey: a 2004 1er Cru and a 2005 Vieille Vignes. He says the 05 VV was opened too early, but he calls it a definite rebuy that should be great down the line. And his notes on the 04 1er Cru speak for themselves - take a look.

Sonadora at Wannabe Wino tasted the 2005 Jean Manciat Mâcon-Charnay. This was her first foray into the wines of the Mâconnais and she really liked it! "A definite rebuy," she says. And this is a $16 bottle. I like her taste – Manciat is awesome.

Doug from The Inquiring Vine tasted the same Manciat wine, but his sinuses were acting up, so he leaves it to Sonadora to talk about how good it is. He tasted the 2004 Mâcon-Chaintré for good measure and liked it, but almost mistook it for a Soave.

Brooklynguy (me – your host) also tasted a Manciat wine, the 2005 Mâcon-Charnay Vieille Vignes. It is a great wine, so distinctive and satisfying, with so much development yet to come. And it cost me all of $20. I like the "regular" version of this wine very much, but the VV is a whole different ballgame.

Lenn had some trouble finding a wine, so his patient wife Nena grabbed a bottle for him, a 2004 Mâcon regional white for under $15 made by, in what is surely the second best producer name of this event, La Mere Boitier (the drinking mother?). Lenn found the wine to be interesting aromatically, but overall thought it was nothing special. Nena liked it though so Lenn is now the proud owner of 2 cases.

Dr. Vino also tasted a regional wine, an Aligoté, the other white grape of Burgundy. Whoops – this wine turns out to be made from vines near Meursault. Just goes to show you that French wine labels can be tough to decipher – even the most experienced among us can end up in Meursault when looking for the Côte Chalonnaise. No matter, Tyler enjoyed the wine. And for good measure, he tasted a 1er Cru Mercurey that he liked also.

Jack and Joanne at the esteemed food and wine website Fork and Bottle also tasted a regional white, and it seems as though they found a real winner. At about $18, the Domaine Guillemeot-Michel Quintaine “is a no-brainer at a restaurant,” and “a definite rebuy.” As always, their tasting notes give you a great sense of what to expect from the wine. And for good measure, Jack and Joanne also tasted a red from Vincent Dureuil-Janthial, a rising star in the Côte Chalonnaise. The 2005 Rully 1er Cru Vieille Vignes was full of promise, but was not yet ready to fully strut its stuff.

Speaking of Rully, Daniel at Red Wine With Fish tasted one too. He recommends the 2005 Domaine de la Folie Rully, and successfully paired it with pork chops and braised apples, but thinks it might need more bottle age.

Dave, the WineBaer tasted the 2005 Domaine Jaeger Defaix Rully and was intrigued, but ultimately the wine did not show very well. He also tasted a red wine, one from what must be the newest appellation in France, the Côte de Coucherais. Situated just to the northwest of the Côte Chalonnaise, these wines are all Pinot all the time. But sadly, the 2005 Les Champs de l'Abbaye Couchois was not all that impressive either, and since the WineBaer spent about 50 smacks on these wines, he feels a bit shortchanged. I hear that. Hopefully he will find a Silver Burgundy wine that he likes, maybe even at less money.

Farley at Behind the Vines found a wine from a reputable producer for $3.99. That’s right folks, $3.99. The fact that she bought it from a recently fired sommelier in the back alley behind the restaurant is irrelevant. The wine, a 2001 Faiveley Montagny, was probably past its prime. So she tasted a 2005 red from Givry made by Michel Sarrazin, and she liked that one much more. By the way, Farley has two more bottles of the Faiveley, and they’re yours for the bargain basement price of $2.99. Meet her behind the restaurant…

Dr. Debs at Good Wine Under $20 helped Farley find her Givry, and she found a nice little wine for herself too, the 2004 Domaine Larochette-Manciat Mâcon-Vinzelles, at under $20 of course. She liked her wine a lot, and was fascinated by the lack of fruit. Minerals, yes. Nuts, yes. Live electrical wire after a storm, yes.

Andrew at RougeAndBlanc tasted two wines - a 2005 Domaine Thomas St Véran and a red Givry, the 2003 Chofflet-Valdenaire. He found them both to be quite nice, if not terrible complex. He also offers the recipe for one of the dishes he paired with the wines, Steamed Chicken with Tiger Lily and fungus. Worth a peek, no?

Bill at the Wine for Newbies Podcast also tasted a St Véran, the 2004 Domaine de la Croix Senaillet. He rather enjoyed it, and at about $15 says it has excellent QPR.

Tim of Cheap Wine Ratings rummaged through his cellar and found two wines for this event. He thought the 2005 Caves de Lugny Mâcon-Lugny Les Charmes was fine at $13, but not a rebuy. He would rebuy the Domaine Michel Goubard & Fils Mont Avril Bourgogne at $17 though. He thought this one was fantastic - mushrooms, cigars, cherries - it's in there!

Mariëlla from Wijnkronieken, a Dutch Blog, was somehow the only person to sample a Pouilly-Fuissé, what I thought was a more popular area of the Mâconnais. She enjoys the2004 Domaine de la Collonge, and notes how different it is from a California wine she tasted. Kathleen at Wine and Stories from the Vineyard tasted a Latour Macon-Lugny Les Genievres and found that same contrast.

Garry from Tales of a Sommelier tasted our oldest wine, a 1996 JM Boillot Givry. He enjoys it and calls it a good deal off the winelist at £33 (2.5 million US dollars), although he notes that it is old, and one in three bottles is lost.

New participant DJR-S at Sangre y Pajas en Flor: Vinomadic? Because. (yeah, I'd like him to explain the name also) in Puerto Rico tasted three old wines and finds some beauty, reluctant beauty maybe, but beauty nonetheless in all three. DJR-S is a poet who loves wine. Check out this description of one of the wines: "The white Mercurey has blossomed into an amazing tightrope act of earth & oxidative notes, giving it a caramelized orange rind & apple throughline that matches a light, lingering citrus blossom nose-- with some mushroom underpinning that balances the midpalate at a near-impossible point between astringent & unctuous.

Tim at Winecast tasted the 2003 Faiveley Mercurey, and says it's a very good value at about $20. He thinks it could go a few more years in the bottle and continue to improve. Check out his notes and his podcast.

Marcus at Doktor Weingolb really went all out - he spent some serious clams on his wine, the 2004 Domaine Francois Lumpp Givry 1er Cru Crausot. And the sad part is, he was really disappointed. He gives the wine only two Lumpps. But his post is as engaging as ever.

Jeff at The Good Grape was the victim of wine-salesperson-rage and was forced to grab a random bottle and flee his local shop. His wine, the 2005 Matthiew di Brully Mercurey “La Perriere” was not at all to his liking, but he will try again another day.

Diane at Wine Lover's Journal, another first time participant, tasted a 2005 Chateau de la Tour de L'Ange, a red from the Mâconnais, and enjoyed it with mild cheese.

Dale at Drinks Are On Me, another first time participant, says the Gerard et Laurent Parize Grand Vin de Bourgogne Givry 1er Cru is a killer wine, and highly recommends it at about $25.

Serge the Concierge was not able to actually taste a wine for WBW, but he describes a producer he admires - Maison Jaques Depagneux.

And last but not least, Wilf from Wilf's Wine Press uses the occasion of WBW to remember the horrors of war (no, I'm not kidding).

Sorry for the delay in posting the roundup, and thanks again for having me as your host.


Sonadora said...

Thanks Brooklynguy! Great write-up. High bar for me to follow.... :)

Anonymous said...

Neil, a write-up that's well worth a little wait. Funny and thorough attention to detail, plus you paint quite the reputation for me. Cheers to good wines and shady deals!

RougeAndBlanc said...

Thanks Neil. A thoughtful and well organized round-up that is well worth the wait. Thumbs Up from me and thanks for hosting. Have a happy Thanksgiving.

Mariëlla said...

Thanks from me too: great stuff to read. And good to read that French wines still have a large following 'overseas' (from my point of view ofcourse ;-) )

Eddie Howard said...

Thanks for the write up Neil. Great job with WBW #39. I enjoyed participating in my first WBW, and plan to participate in many more.

David McDuff said...

Good work, Neil. Thanks again for hosting. As for the issue you've raised regarding 1er Cru status in "Silver country," the point can be and has been made that 1er Cru means far less in the Côte Chalonnaise than it does in the Côte d'Or and even Chablis.

Marcus said...

Good stats, great hosting! Congrats on bagging WBW 39.

I am not used to being known as an expensive wine buyer. It looks like Garry at Tales of a Sommelier beat me Euros to Loonies!

Anonymous said...

Neil, I think the fact that you commented on everyone's WBW posts was a real class act.

Your hosting skills are exemplary, and your round-up was a pleasure to read!

Thanks so much!

Brooklynguy said...

Wow - thanks you all! I really enjoyed hosting (read: imposing my wine preferences on you) for a month. Met some new bloggers, enjoyed your posts tremendously, learned more about wine, and am indirectly responsible for Marcus blowing his budget on a mediocre wine. Not that i'm proud of it cause i'm not. i owe you one, buddy.

Edward said...


Excellent write up. I liked the numerical summary at the start.
Thanks for the theme - certainly opened my eyes up.

Joe said...

Who'da thunk Marcus would be a big spender? :) Thanks, love the variety of wines, you have forced the wine blogosphere outside of the comfort zone!

Marcus said...

Hey Neil, I have a saying I live by: Any wine that doesn't get returned only makes you stronger... or something like that.

I drank all of that bottle -- no one owes me anything!

So please, Bguy, despite what my unequivocal review might suggest, I liked trying out WBW39. I wanted to buy and try that Lumpp. I knew it was a risk. It was fun to splurge.

Thanks for a successful event!

Deetrane said...

This is no longer a blog. its a blook. who has time to read all this, much less write it? you need to get a job, Brooklynguy!!!!

Brooklynguy said...

nice deetrane, thanks.

Lyle Fass said...


Great roundup. I thought my German posts were long for blog posts but you have set a new standard. Great roundup! Much appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for hosting, BG. I appreciated the stats on all of the different wines! Very interesting. Thanks for putting in such an effort on this. Have a great Thanksgiving.

Brooklynguy said...

hey lyle - not exactly the standard i was going for, but i'll take it.

hey erika - my pleasure, you too, have a good one

Anonymous said...

You really did your job very seriously, Neil! Thank you for your comments.
The Côte Chalonnaise and the Maconnais should award you a medal because you helped put the region on the map..

Brooklynguy said...

hi Bert! i'm really glad that you participated. for those of us here in the eastern US who enjoy Burgundy but can't always afford it, these regions are pretty well established. what is their reputation like within France?

Anonymous said...

Southern Burgundy wines are the affordable option for many french wine lovers, the wines that you can drink regularly without getting broke. Northern Burgundy's prices, held high by exports, don't allow easy access for the french average consumer, and so we turn to other lesser-internationally-demanded Appellations. You have many good deals also with Montagny 1er Cru or Rully wines, and the bottles can be found easily all over France. Mercurey is a bit more pricey.The Maconnais' reputation is a bit under the Cote Chalonnaise's I think, but thanks to that, you make even better deals.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Neil-- greetings from Argentina! Thanks for the stats, helps get a sense of perspective & for your kind words re.: my occasionally purple & gold prose (hint: sangre y pajas: blood & straws. bit of an abstruse, r-rated pun in Spanish...)
Can´t find anything but Argentinian wines down here! A bit bewildering...gota write some of the stuff I´ve tried up...thanks again for being such a cool host.

viNomadic said...

...identity/nicknames/handle stuff still bewilders me about Web 2.0...

Paz123 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Brooklynguy said...

hey bert - interesting, thanks for the insights. i'm surprised to hear that in France the Maconnais' reputation is a bit under the Cote Chalonnaise's. even for white wine? makes sense what you said about exports keeping the prices high. that might change a bit with the crappy dollar, although i guess the pound and the yen are fine.

glad to be of service djr-s. have fun in argentina.