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Not really bourgogne blanc (?)

bourgogne blancIn the spring-report we looked at the regional appellation of Bourgogne Rouge and along the way tasted a few bottles. The result from good producers was typically nice drinking and with a little age sometimes very good. Another two very impressive reds from 1997 appear in this issue. There is one more ‘non-white’ regional appellation; that of Bourgogne Clairet or Rosé – often found in Marsannay – like the reds it is also produced from Pinot Noir but for today, that’s enough about rosé. So what about the regional appellations for whites? There are three main categories; Bourgogne, Bourgogne Aligoté and Crémant de Bourgogne. Personally, if I’m looking for something white and fizzy from France that doesn’t come from Champagne, typically I look to Alsace rather than Burgundy – so you won’t find any Crémant here.

Today Bourgogne Aligoté is, as the name implies, made from Aligoté grapes – up until 1999 as much as 15% Chardonnay could have been in the mix. For years, Aligoté was often considered a little insipid, hence, relegated to the rôle of being the base wine for making ‘Kir’. Today some producers are trying much harder with this variety – for instance the Mme. Bize-Leroy’s high-priced version at Domaine d’Auvenay. At the table, Aligoté plays a similar rôle to Pinot Blanc being well suited to matching with light flavoured entrées. More commonly in my home it is the drink for a hot afternoon on the terrace. Aligoté typically shows medium depth flavours but coupled with good citrus fruit and acidity – the Pierre Morey wine was a perfect example of this – relatively simple, but very enjoyable.

With chardonnay wines at the regional level, I find the differences much more obvious than with Bourgogne Rouge, but still only one disappointment here and that was the Georges Faiveley wine – okay in isolation – but outclassed by the others. Here we we have a range of prices from Leflaive at the top down to Moillard-Grivot at the bottom. Quite difficult to choose a winner too. Probably the 1998 Leflaive would be my favourite, though my wife’s preference was Denis Mortet’s slightly oakier wine. Given the price, I should also give an honourable mention to the 1998 of Daniel Rion for which I paid only five Euros!
To quickly summarise; exactly as with the previous sampling of Bourgogne Rouge, choose a producer with a good name and it’s hard to go wrong. Although it seems to be harder to get hold of older generic whites than reds, is quite obvious that even at this level, the wines will improve with age. At this price level I would contrast this ageability with the majority of ‘New World’ chardonnays, often interesting on release but in my experience they tend to have a much shorter drinking window.

Tasted – a baker’s dozen

2000 Georges Faiveley, Bourgogne Blanc
Pale yellow. The nose is subdued and mildly alcoholic. The palate has good acidity with a grapefruit and melon fruit profile. Slight oak on the finish. Chill it for an aperitif, otherwise not so exciting.
2000 Domaine Leflaive, Bourgogne Blanc
Pale gold. The nose is also a little subdued, but there’s ripe pineapple and melon with swirling. Fatter and richer palate which is just a little buttery. Lovely acidity and has a much longer finish than Faiveley’s. Excellent Bourgogne.
1999 Domaine Leflaive, Bourgogne Blanc
This is pale yellow with a very prominent peach and apricot nose – most individual. Fat, with a very wide palate and good acidity. I liked the style but my wife didn’t like the nose. Individual and very good.
1998 Domaine Leflaive, Bourgogne Blanc
Just a little darker than the 1999. The nose is more subdued but again shows some peach and higher floral tones. The palate has a little more citrus and pear. Almost as much concentration again with good acidity. Another excellent effort which I slightly prefer to the 1999.
2000 Domaine Roulot, Bourgogne Blanc
Pale yellow. The nose is lovely blend of apple and pear. Not quite the intensity of fruit to be found in Leflaive’s Bourgogne, but quite fat and there’s still a lot of material that’s held together with refreshing acidity. Medium length, currently a one-dimensional wine that I’d be tempted to leave in the cellar for a couple of years. Potentially very good Bourgogne.
1998 Domaine Pierre Morey, Bourgogne Aligoté
Pale yellow. The nose shows a little fat and is quite citrussy. Lovely lemony palate with excellent acidity which manages to push the finish a little longer. Simple, but lovely on a hot afternoon.
1999 Daniel Rion, Bourgogne Blanc
Straw coloured, just a trace of green at the rim. A wide, faintly citrus nose over a melony base. Fatter than the Aligote and also a little less simple. Good acid and medium length. Almost good.
1998 Daniel Rion, Bourgogne Blanc
More yellow in colour. The nose shows some oak, faint butter and lime. Again subtle butter on the palate, more interesting length and good acidity. The extra year seems to have made the difference. Good.
2000 Domaine Pierre Morey, Bourgogne Blanc
Pale straw. High toned nose of citrus and white flowers. Palate seems a little woody at first then peach fruit and good acidity. Just a little more mineral with medium length. I like the style of this.
2000 Charles Thomas, Bourgogne Hautes Côte de Nuits
Impressively deep melony nose. Quite fat, coupled with very good acidity. Lovely style, despite the fruit being a little too sweet – the acidity saves it. Quite a find at this price – excellent value.
2000 Michel Bouzereau, Bourgogne Chardonnay
Pale lemon yellow colour. There’s a pleasing, high toned citrussy nose. The sweet palate has good fat and a light nutty tone. I would have preferred a touch more acidity, but it’s not bad. In fact it’s rather nice – good value too. A good wine.
2000 Remy Jobard, Bourgogne Blanc
Pale yellow. The nose starts very mallic with green apples, given aeration there’s perhaps some pear fruit too. In the mouth it’s soft with very persistent fruit flavours – again pear-like. This is very nice, at first I though lacking a little acidity but there seems plenty on the finish. Very good value, and worth keeping for a couple of years.
2000 Denis Mortet, Bourgogne Blanc
Lemon yellow colour. The nose shows a little oak and waxy citrus fruits. With time it develops an overall effect which is almost ‘Puligny’. Fresh acidity which really pushes the length. The oak makes the palate creamy rather than buttery but there’s some harshness. The fruit is quite peachy with citrus but I find the overall effect just a little hard. I think, given the good concentration of the fruit and the very good acidity, that this wine will certainly benefit from a couple of years keeping as it improved throughout the evening. A nice wine to have in the cellar and my wife’s favourite from the whole line-up.

Agree? Disagree? Anything you'd like to add?