Yarra Valley Pinot and Bourgogne Rouge

With our simple but delicious lunch of M&S BBQ Hickory Steak Pizza we popped a bottle of Mac Forbes Yarra Valley Pinot Noir 2012. Not the grandest wine in the world, but it was quite lovely and served to illustrate an instructive point.

I shall start with my chum Mac’s wine. It was Pinot of pure pleasure. Lots of nice fruit – delicious, charming, lovely fruit. Some brightening acidity and a shade of vigour from the tannins. And I am not being dismissive to say “That was it” because The Editor and I bloody loved it with our light, summery lunch. It was totally delicious and totally enjoyable, even though it was obviously made for early, uncomplicated drinking and by the time it came to us it was three years old. Why cannot Burgundians make wines like this?

Yarra Valley Pinot Noir 2012

The answer is that they do, but most people never get to try them. Shame on you, Burgundy law makers, for permitting this to happen!

The only chance of trying similar wines from Burgundy, is if you taste early barrel samples direct, or at en primeur tastings from good importers who have decent producers in their portfolio. If you go to, say, a Clark Foyster or Howard Ripley tasting, you will try a slew of Bourgogne Rouge which are utterly delicious and whisk you away to realms of unreserved pleasure. I mean it. I solid mean it!

However, You do not get to take your two cases of spring and summer drinking away with you from the tasting. No! You have to wait until they have been delivered, usually six to nine months later, after they have been sealed with a traditional cork.

By then the wine has lost its immediate charm, a lot of its fruit and most of its point.

To get most value out of these wines they should be bottled the spring after the harvest and bottled with a screw cap. Indeed, why not make this part of the Appellation Controlee stipulations for Bourgogne Rouge?

Bottling early would allow the fresh, lovely fruit of decent Bourgogne Rouge to be captured, and the screw cap would keep it there for a couple of years. This would make for precisely the kind of wine that would tempt modern drinkers not used to the arcana of Burgundy to its wines which are currently only being bought by a mainly senescent group of illuminati.

If I had the energy, which alas I do not, I would be pushing producers of the very best Bourgogne Rouge, like Cyprien Arlaud, Confuron-Gindre, Henri Jouan and Fourrier to name but four, to lobby for my suggested changes to the Bourgogne Rouge AC laws so they could sell their lovely, basic wines when they are at their most lovely and bottled in a way which would keep them lovely.

And if anyone wants to wax lyrical about the wonders of a ten year old Bourgogne Rouge you have enjoyed I am afraid you are simply deluded. That is not what Bourgogne Rouge is about. There may be the off, exceptional loon who declassifies his young Grand Cru wines into Bourgogne Rouge, but only you and I know about that and it is not a marker of the AC in any way.

Bourgogne Rouge, bottled in spring, in screw cap bottles. That is what we want because it will make us happier. And we want it as soon as possible!

  • Alex Lake

    You’re so right. I’ve often thought this.

  • Mark Gough

    See your well articulated point mon ami. Mais Cyprien’s Bourgogne Roncevie is a quasi Gevrey Village is it not 🙂 ? Reckon one needs to be vintage/producer/terroir selective as, for me, for example the 2005 Roncevies were as tight as a water fowl’s derriere for several years and only started drinking well in the last couple of years – I still have circa half the case. Would you like one for a lunch – and to witheringly tell me I’m wrong 😉 ?

    Maybe only teasing above but, seriously, wouldn’t Bourgogne PTG be something even more appropriate under screwcap than BR ? The thought of a fresh glass of Jouan or Arlaud PTG, even at this late hour, is making me thirsty even after a deliciously, fruity, snappy, crackly appealing Gachot-Monot 2008 CdNV ‘Chaillots’ this evening.

    Back to screwcaps – I’ll seek the debate with Cyprien later this year but can anticipate his facial reaction ! Maybe his newish Bourgogne ‘Oka’ is the one for such modern fads rather than Roncevie 🙂

    Be good !

  • Tom G

    Oddly enough, David, I opened Leroy Bourgogne Rouge 1999 last night. Clearly this fits into your category of “the off, exceptional loon who declassifies his young Grand Cru wines into Bourgogne Rouge, but only you and I know about that and it is not a marker of the AC in any way”, but even so I was actually rather disappointed.

    This Leroy wine has for a long time been a good way to get a taste of the Leroy style while retaining your shirt, but I have to say that, even after a good few hours, it was giving nothing aromatically and didn’t taste of much either.

    A rogue bottle, do you think, or is Bacchus punishing me for not drinking it while it was still in short trousers?

    Like the idea of screwcaps for most BR, though.

  • Mark, there are few Gevrey villages I would keep for ten years, let alone a quasi-one. The best Arlaud Ronceive I’ve had was at a friend’s wedding right after being bottled. I’ve found my, admittedly limited, attempts at ageing it to just be throwing good wine away.

    Tom, Leroy may be a well known brand, but the BR is made from negociant grapes and I’ve never found it anything special. The one that always sticks out in my mind was a 1990 that had some oooooh fancy! epithet attached to it that my chum Edward and I tried at a tasting in 1995. We both agreed it was utterly past it and a horrible drinking experience. That being said, my college wine buyer bought a few cases as it was being flogged off at a slight discount from its normally outrageous price. They like a bargain, these college wine buyers, even if it is a false one.

  • Sean

    There has been a recent thread on Wine pages about the time to open up 09/10/11/12 Bourgogne Rouge from some of the better producers. It got me thiinking that village wines have more to offer in their youth and much more approachable than Bourgogne rouge. I opened two of the Lignier Michelot Chambolle Musigny 09 I still have, opening up the second after the first gave so much pleasure. This has been a wine that has been giving pleasure for the last 3 years, since purchasing the case. A bottle of which I believe I gave to you David. I just don’t get the same pleasure from BR at the same stage, that leaner fruit I feel dids to soften a wee touch before being approached.

    On the point of screw cap, I agree with you, there should be more Bourgogne Rouge under screw cap. Serious Rhone producers like Alain Graillot are putting their Crozes Hermitage under screw cap and it is still a wonderful wine. Why not Burgundy?

    Finally, sorry pentultimately, aren’t M&S pizzas just the best? It is Conor and my Saturday night treat, a M&S Pepperoni pizza and sticky BBQ chicken wings, washed down with a nice Pinot Noir… oh and of course Pepsi for the wee man! And finally, nice to see you writing again dear chap!

  • Sean, I love drinking BR at en primeur tastings whereas I feel villages wines are great by the time they are delivered. BR is so lovely and fun when it’s fresh and young! Stuff above those levels, well, that is an entirely different question. But screwcaps definitely for BR – what could they possibly lose?

    The M&S chicken tempura with sweet chilli sauce is a great comfort food!