A Bourgogne for Every Budget
To quote President Hoover, "A chicken in every pot - a Bourgogne for every budget!" No, I added that last part. I wish he had said that.
But Hoover certainly isn't wrong. When I hear people say over and over again that Bourgogne has nothing affordable, I cringe. It's a diverse region with multiple levels of appellation d'origine contrôlée. I.E.: something for everyone.
Don't get me wrong - Bourgogne by and large makes some of the most expensive wines in the world. But there's good reason for this. Way back in the 19th century, the Napoleonic code for landowners redefined how and who could inherit land - including vineyard plots. I won't get into the nitty gritty but essentially, these laws meant that parcels of land were to be divided among all heirs as time went on, which meant that Bourgogne wine plots went from large estates to smaller and smaller plots. Between this and the fact that much of Bourgogne wines are hand harvested, you will by and large pay a higher fee for wines from this region.
That isn't to say however, that there are not exceptions to this rule. Keep in mind that the average French wine was created for the average French person - the farmer or the suburbanite - and not the top 1%. So winemaking practices do have to include wines for every price point, no matter where you're buying them! (Also: note that my prices are in New York City dollars - which means if you're reading this from somewhere else in America, it's likely a few dollars cheaper.)
Here are my picks:
1) Marsannay - Domaine Coillot - $23
Let's start with a classic red Bourgogne. Soft mouth feel, silky red fruits. Think cherries and strawberries - though not a fruit bomb like Beaujolais, there's still a lot of beautiful fruit here. I picked this up at my local wine shop in celebration of Pinot Noir day and it was a really great Bourgogne for the price - and especially good if you're trying to break into the region but don't know where to start.
2) Chorey-lès-Beaune - Joseph Drouhin, $30
Ok yes, I admit that this one is a bit on the splurge side, but most Chorey-lès-Beaune are far pricier than this. Drouhin isn't my favorite kind of producer, owning quite a bit of land in both Bourgogne and Beaujolais, but you gotta give the guy credit - he produces fabulous wines with great U.S. distribution. If you can't find much Bourgogne where you are and want something besides Jadot and Duboeuf, Drouhin will probably be your next bet.
Now let's get to taste. This is a beautifully structured Pinot Noir, exploding with black fruits like blackberry. There's a little licorice there too as it glides down the throat. This was three years old when I got to it, but it could definitely sit in the cellar a little longer for more licorice.
3) Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Beaune - Domaine Billard Père et Fils, $15
This is a great Bourgogne to pair with food if ever I saw one. Tart cherries, and a bit of earthy smoke. I paired it with our go-to neighborhood veggie pizza one night and it did not disappoint. If your'e looking for a good value in Bourgogne that's sure to be a crowd pleaser, this one cannot be beat!
1) Macôn La Roche Vineuse - Domaine Chêne, $18
Fun fact: in French, Chêne means "oak", so it shouldn't be surprising that there's a little bit of it on this little Chardonnay. Fear not though - it's far from overpowering. Those of you who know me know that my biggest complaint in wine making is inability of so many Chardonnay producers to overuse or misuse oak, but this one is a refined take on the process. It allows the fruit to shine through still, with notes of apple and pear. Full of the vibrant acidity that Chardonnay regional appellations in Bourgogne are known for as well!
2) Bouzeron Les Trois - Maison Chanzy, $20
Aligoté is the unsung hero of Bourgogne. Not only can you find amazing Aligoté for $20 and under, but it's perfect to pair with all sorts of foods, and is reminiscent of Sauvignon Blanc in terms of acidity and flavors. It's also a great place to start if you are introducing your friends or family to Bourgogne over the holiday season.
3) Chablis Les Alliés - $15
This beautiful, unoaked village appellation Chablis is a classic. Another unoaked beauty with high acidity and mineral and pear flavors, it's perfect if you're one of those people who doesn't say they like Chardonnay. This ain't your mama's Chardonnay.
These are my top picks for Budget Bourgogne! When in doubt, look for the regional and the village appellations for great wines that will keep your budget in tact. Are you convinced that you have options out there yet?