It is my birthday soon, sadly. A few friends are meeting up for a nice meal and the wines have already been decided upon. Oddly there will be a lot of Burgundy consumed. As I muse upon those lovely wines that will be consumed in great company I find myself thinking about how good things can be.
Britain has historically been a great trading nation, and this has done wonders for our fine wine trade which is still one of the most dynamic in the world even now we are largely a comedy nation. We have invented a number of wine styles throughout history including Sherry, sparkling Champagne, Madeira, red (as opposed to rosé) Bordeaux and fortified Port. Yet, the British are notoriously shy and retiring, not people given to the visceral, sociable pleasures that wine provides.
The cunning solution of the British wine lover was to turn the pleasure of wine into an intellectual one. Rather than drinking fun wines, the fine wine market has until very recently been almost exclusively obsessed with red Bordeaux. Whilst Bordeaux can be be complex and interesting, it tends toward the hard, lean, austere, not-much-fun end of the wine spectrum. The best wines are undoubtedly great, but not always designed to put a big smile on one’s face.
So, one might prefer to drink riper, fleshier, more fruity wines, such as those that come from Australia and the USA. These wines often provide a lot of visceral pleasure but frequently lack that extra dimension that I, as a British wine lover, seek: interest. There are some very complex, very interesting wines made in this style, really quite a remarkable number considering the very short period wines have been made in these areas, but sadly they tend to be too expensive for your humble narrator. Moreover, drinking more than a few glasses of them often leaves me completely paralytic. Strangely, getting completely news-casted is a pleasure I rarely seek.
The solution is clear: drink Burgundy! Burgundy is fleshy and fun, yet complex and interesting. It speaks about the area it comes from, it cheers me up and I can think about even more clearly after a couple of glasses because it is not booze-tastic. Simple village wines even from serious producers can be deeply affordable, if one buys carefully, yet will provide an awful lot of pleasure. People claim that Burgundy is difficult to understand; idleness seems a poor reason to miss out on some good experiences. I certainly do not mind applying myself to maximise the pleasure of myself and my guests.
As one of my favourite wine makers puts it, “Burgundy is best!”
I have been expanding my wine tastes into Burgundy from Bordeaux and Spain / Italy over the past couple of years and I think I understand why Burgundian wines are more difficult to pidgeon hole.
Everywhere else you buy from a chateaux which has maybe 3 or 4 wines easily stratified in complexity and cost.
In Burgundy however 1 producer can have a multitude of different wines even from the same sub region and even depending the position of their vines on the slope makes for a very confusing decision about which one to choose.
Unless you go there see the producer try the wine understand the product its almost impossible to quantify whether its going to be good.
Then the big producers like Jadot and Louis Latour have untold countless wines from sub regions and different vineyards…. Arrrrggghhhh..
Where do we start ?.
The bottom of the pile ? – no its not good enough compared to what “we” have been buying in bordeaux.
Top End ? – Can you afford it ????. I could buy 10 cases of latour for 1 of DRC on release get real. I cannot even afford the latour.
Middle ? – The problem here is that quality is so variable and price relatively high that we are just trying now and again.
The solution is to go and pick direct – lower cost and better quality. But who has the time.
I will get there (both visiting and understanding) – Its a labour of love after all.
Interesting site BTW. Will have to peruse it at home (work firewalls will undoubtably block it very soon!!!!).
Burgundy expensive? Surely not compared to claret? One of the two bottles of Bordeaux I own is Lynch-Bages 2001 and it cost me £35. For that much I can get some pretty serious Burgundy, the Clos des Epeneaux 2001 was cheaper than this. The last bottle of Burgundy I had was Auxey-Duresess Premier Cru 2001 that cost £16.50. I would not have expected a bottle of Bordeaux at this price to be anywhere near as good as the Auxey. I think Burgundy is much better value than Bordeaux.
Despite my annoyance about an informationless label a couple of days ago, I have to say I’ve always found Burgundy to be easy to understand. People say they are so hit and miss but I rarely open a bad bottle.
I love Burgundy, great wines that I can afford.
Thanks for dropping by.