My story of Burgandy: Savigny-Les-Beaune

Like every person, every wine has a story.  Some are great epics, others merely small vignettes, or even, dare I say, a blog, a mention, or a passing thought.   What is inherent at the heart of any good tale is the character of our hero and the reason for his/her/its existence.

These days I find myself more and more intrigued by the story told by a Pinot Noir, and as of late and more specifically, by a Burgandy.   Like an episode of “The Game of Thrones,” there is a turbulent story of power and intrigue behind the French region and the history of its wine.   What remains after years of seclusion and then slicing and dicing of vineyards, the exiling of other grapes by fierce rulers, and disease and blight is a wine that is nuanced, perhaps a bit temperamental, and one that exhibits a story many will pay big money for if told correctly.

In the Oxford Companion to Wine, Janis Robinson writes, “If Cabernet produces wines that appeal to the head, Pinot’s charms are decidedly more sensual and transparent.”

Enter, the winephoto-100 of the day: Bourchard Pere & Fils’ 2010 Premier Cru Savigny-Les-Beaune from Les Lavieres. That’s a mouthful even I don’t understand on the surface. (It being French and all).

Below the surface and the cork is also a wine of mystery, but one quick to unfold and very expressive.  At first pass (it was a long day—I skipped the nose and went for the throat), the wine exhibited notes of baked tart cherry (almost with a currant flavor behind it), oak and spice.  Diving in a little deeper and letting it open up, I also found flavors of raspberry, leather (a light leather coat that has seen some air, versus a heavy sofa kept inside), white pepper, and savory notes of smoked meat.  It had a beautiful, complex flavor, bright fruity notes, medium acid and a long, lovely finish.

This wine was, as Robinson points to, very sensual. To me, it would be a crushed red-velvet dress or smoking jacket one finds in a thrift store—a treasure that is comforting, extravagant but a bit dusty at the same time. You buy it because there will be a night perfect for it’s subtle drama.

I was sold. I bought a bottle.   And I probably will buy more, even if it’s to drink alone during a cold, stormy Minnesota winter’s night.  At $49.99 it is not a cheap wine to drink on a daily basis, but it will be a night worthy of whatever story you choose to tell, be it sonnet, saga or a little salacious narrative.  Sante!


The Pope is always in style: Chateau Cabrieres, Chateauneuf du Pape 2010

While anything surrounding the Church and the Pope can always be considered controversial, I have found that the wine from the Rhone Valley in France, particularly the Chateauneuf du Pape, often finds common ground in those who love wine. And even with those who don’t know they love it.  (I also really enjoy a Cote du Rhone wine, but that is for another post).

“The Pope’s New Castle” wine was named for Pope Clement V, former Archbishop of Bordeaux who relocated the papacy to the cit of Avignon in 1308, and his successor John XXII, who later erected said castle in this region of France where both these religious leaders found God-like qualities in the local wines. (Okay, I’ve taken a writer’s license to embellish here a bit. But not much–the wine IS good). Chateauneuf’s can be a blend of 13 different Rhone varieties, but they are comprised primarily of Grenache, Syrah and include Cinsault and Mourvedre among others.

Just like all popes are not created equal in the eyes of the masses, neither are all Chaeauneuf du Papes, but the one in question for today, Chateau Cabrieres 2010 could make a choir of angels sing its praise.  And of course, I’m angelic, if nothing else.

The wine: photo-99In a word-divine. The wine is a great balance of fruit and complexity with notes of deep cherry and rasberries, softened by flavors of vanilla and deepened by soft, spicy notes of white pepper.  The wine is both elegant and rich at the same time with a nice, long finish, and it is very drinkable on its own or with rich foods, such as turkey, roasted vegetables, and stuffing. (What? I was eating light for the Holidays).

If you’ve ever entered a large cathedral, it can be daunting to take in all the pomp, circumstance, and pagentry of the Catholic tradition–drinking a glass of this is like finding a seat in a small, aloof alcove underneath a stained glass window where the light shines down directly in front of you. It is quiet here, but charged with a serene energy. This wine feels like this for me.

I was eager to try this one out, but in hindsight after the second glass, believed this wine would have been even better by opening the bottle sooner and letting it “breathe” or by decanting it.  A 2010 wine, this is still a young wine with a good amount of tannin in it, so you can drink it now or save it a bit to enjoy in a year or two.  Be good and give as a gift, or selfish and enjoy the whole bottle yourself.  Definitely a wine for the time and ages. And angels.4of5