Some great wines of Burgundy to try

Leslie Williams shares some of his favourite wines from Burgundy
Some great wines of Burgundy to try

The great wines of Burgundy can perform like “a great orchestra’ offering ‘a heavenly scent, perfumed with notes of sweet decay...” - and it is no wonder that they have “held people in thrall for centuries”. So writes Raymond Blake in his new book Côte d’Or part of the Classic Wine Library series just published by Infinite Ideas; available in good book and wine shops (e.g. Bradleys, 64 Wines).

Blake is the wine editor of Food and Wine magazine and this is his second book on Burgundy (his previous travelogue/memoir Breakfast in Burgundy is also recommended), and he is to be congratulated for such a readable informative book about this most vexing and glorious of wine regions.

What I liked most was its light touch and straight talking. The Burgundy region is complex and Blake explains it well. He is very clear about the difficulties of loving the region’s wines. They are (very) expensive and will get more so, and yet they can often be (severely) disappointing. Land prices are driving out family-owned domains, prized white Burgundies often have premature oxidation, fashion and demand is pushing the best wines out of reach as are shortages caused by climate change with frost and hail now yearly occurrences. And yet we keep coming back.

One positive development Blake focuses on is the emergence of the micro-négoce — enthusiasts driven by love and sometimes ‘messianic zeal’ to make gorgeous wine in tiny quantities and against all odds. One of these is a pharmacist from Ballyhaunis, Co Mayo, and her recently released first wines (pleasingly bottled as Maison Róisín Curley) were released in the past month.

Ms Curley has a masters in Viticulture and Oenology from Montpelier and has had stints at Chateau Latour in Bordeaux and at Chateau Grillet in Condrieu and is driven by a profound love for wine. She didn’t mean to start making wine in Burgundy but once she realised she could, she knew she had no choice. Renting a couple of rows in Beaune and Saint-Romain in 2015 was not exactly easy (or cheap) and the air-miles keep increasing but she ploughed. The wines are excellent and warmly recommended.

Couveys Les Petits Greniers Pinot Noir, Pays d’Oc IGP, France — €10.99

Stockists: Eurospar, Spar, Mace & Londis

To find Burgundy under €15 you need to leave Ireland (almost any other country in the world will do such are our criminal taxes). Meanwhile there are some cooler spots in the Languedoc suitable for Pinot and this has a bright dark ruby colour with ripe red fruit aromas, a supple soft palate and a pleasing fresh finish.

Incanta Pinot Noir 2016, Recas, Romania - €10.99

Stockists: Independents, Ardkeen Stores Waterford, McHughs Malahide and Kilbarrick, Hollands Bray, Vintry Rathgar.

Romania and Cramele Recas in particularis producing some excellent value wines these days and has some cooler vineyards suitable for Pinot. This has typical Pinot Noir red fruit aromas tinged with earth, a lithe fruity palate with a pleasing texture and a decent amount of grip on the finish.

Santa Carolina Cellar Selection Chardonnay 2016, Chile - €9.99

Stockists: O’Donovans, JJ O’Driscolls, Next Door Ennis, Ardkeen, Martins, Redmonds.

Chile in no way resembles Burgundy but the cool Pacific climate does allow some fine Chardonnay and Pinot to be produced. It is time to embrace the world’s greatest white grape again and this is a good place to start - tropical pear and apple aromas and is balanced and fresh with a touch of spice on the finish.

Machard de Gramont Savigny Les Beaune 1er Cru ‘Aux Guettes’ 2011, France - €29.99

Stockists: Karwig Wines Carrigaline

I’ve mentioned this producer before and their wines are on the light side but consistently fragrant and elegant. Savigny is north of the town of Beaune and is frequently a source of good value reds. Pale ruby with brick edges, aromas of sweet raspberry and touches of forest floor (decaying leaves) – light and supple fruits, pleasingly refreshing and bright with yielding tannins.

Róisín Curley Beaune ‘Clos des Rouards’ 2015, Burgundy, France - €49.95

Stockists: Bradleys Cork, Fordes Ballyhaunis, The Wine Library, GreenMan, 64 Wines, Donnybrook Fair

From an elevated walled vineyard near Pommard in the south of Beaune. One of just 1500 bottles from de-stemmed grapes gently extracted and wild yeast. Bright ruby colour, warm chestnut tinged red fruit – supple and silky with fleshy fruits, still young and taut but with a pleasing fruity freshness. Drinking beautifully but will happily age. A rather stunning debut.

Róisín Curley Saint-Romain 2015, Burgundy, France - €49.95

Stockists: Bradleys Cork, Fordes Ballyhaunis, The Wine Library, GreenMan, 64 Wines, Donnybrook Fair

Saint-Romain is a somewhat lesser known patch of Côte de Beaune to the west of Auxey-Duresses. From organic grapes with warm, butter-tinged, (over) ripe pear aromas – beautifully fleshy on the palate with rich complex fruits and a taut apple, (under-ripe) pear freshness, lingering toasted touches and refreshing acidity combine to make a complex exciting whole.

Mór Gin – Pineapple Edition – 40% ABV, 500ml - €34.00

Stockists: O’Briens Off-Licences Nationwide, Celtic Whiskey Shop Dublin & Killarney

Mór are based in the town of Tullamore and I’ve long been a fan of their classic crisp zingy classic gin but am happy to report they have a new limited edition (2,000 bottles) Pineapple version.

Pineapple, lemongrass, bergamot bitter orange, lime, rosemary, and of course juniper give this a pleasing tropical fruit aroma with orange, lime, and floral notes on the palate and a herbal finish. This makes a fine tropical fruit tinged G&T (add a sprig of lemongrass) and works with dry ginger ale and with coconut milk.

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