Updated: Nov 10, 2020
When we think about Burgundy, why is it that our brain automatically jumps straight to the Grand Crus? Chambertin. Corton. Montrachet. Burgundy has fewer than 30,000 hectares under vine which accounts for just 7% of all French AOCs. Taking that a step further, the Grand Crus of Burgundy account for just 1% of that production! Is your mind blown yet? Although those coveted Grand & Premier Crus are nothing short of exceptional, they require decades in bottle reach their full potential. These wines don't only demand time, they demand a hefty price tag as well. It's because of these factors that the new wine drinkers of today are often intimidated by this region and choose to sip elsewhere. But what if I told you there is a whole category of Burgundy wine that is "buy now, drink now?" Because it exists and you should know about it...
Bourgogne Côtes d'Auxerre
This regional appellation lies on either side of the river Yonne, and produces white, red and rosé wines. I have taken particular interest in the white wines which is no surprise considering they come from Kimmeridgian and Portlandian Marls (give me all that minereality). Goisot Blanc Cotes d'Auxerre 2017 is an excellent example with abundant notes of ripe lemon, peach, grapefruit & white blossoms. This wine sees only stainless steel preserving those fresh fruit and floral aromas. The high acidity is balanced by some lees aging which adds just a little weight to the palate. Refreshing, lovely, and ready to be enjoyed with shellfish tomorrow.
If you're wondering if this is part of the Régionale Mâcon appellation in the Mâconnais, you would be correct. Although this appellation makes red, white and rosé wine, white wine accounts for 85 of the 90 hectares under vine. Domaine Olivier Merlin Maâcon-la-Roche-Vineuse 2017 is a Chardonnay that showcases beautiful white stone fruits, yellow flowers and striking minerality. There's also a beautiful push-pull between acidity and roundness from lees aging in old oak. This wine would pair with simple hors d'oeuvres, or something more substantial like scallops over squash risotto and stone crabs.
Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits Les Renardes
If you're looking for the perfect Pinot to accompany your cheese and charcuterie board, this is it. A dozen villages fall under the Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits AOC - all of which are found above and behind the famous escarpment. Because of elevation, these wines will be beautifully aromatic and have a noticeable acid structure. Les Renardes is located near the town of Marey-les-Fussey, in the steepest part of the hillside facing Southeast. 2018 is a great vintage to seek as the warmer temperatures allowed the fruit from this elevation to really ripen. Domaine Thevenot makes a very approachable wine that is fresh with wild raspberry, rose, thyme, cherry and a touch of clove. The tannins are slightly tight, but will soften with food.
Philippe the Bold may have "exiled" Gamay out of the Côte d'Or during the 14th Century, but that doesn't mean you can't find it elsewhere in Burgundy! These red and rosé wines are found in the designated area of Serrières where vines cover 26 hectares of land. Château de La Greffiere produces a 100% Gamay wine from sand and granite soils. This wine is super plush with fleshy red berries and a lifting acidity. You don't even need to have food with this wine. Pop it open on the porch and enjoy!
When asking Thiébault Huber, president of the federation of official Burgundy appellations, if there was one thing he really wanted American consumers to know he said, "you can drink Burgundy for fun." Hearing that from him hit just a bit different.