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?
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!