Finding Value In White Burgundy

I don’t know how many times I hear a customer ask for Chardonnay that is “Burgundian” in style as they browse new world labeled wines. There seems to be a slight bit of hesitation to bring home actual chardonnay from Burgundy and there may be a few reasons why this is the case.

First off, Burgundy is one of the most complex sub regions of France when it comes to deciphering a wine label. There are seemingly an endless list of small towns, vineyard names and small family producers that might be mentioned on the bottle. Then there’s the notion that Burgundy is expensive, unattainable andoverpriced. Truth is, some of it may be one or more of those things but there are certainly plenty of wines that deliver the quality we expect for even less than you’d pay for say, California chardonnay.

With the aim to stock distinctive white Burgundy under $20 we recently picked up a couple bottles that represent some of the best value we’ve tasted from the region.

Looking for unoaked, unwooded or naked chardonnay? The Mâcon-Charnay Franclieu 2011 ($19.99) from the Mâconnais region of Burgundy is seductively aromatic with delicate floral and citrus aromas. There’s no toasty oak or vanilla aromas in this one. On the palate, it’s lively and round, with the balance of a ballerina and a texture as light as linen. It’s that good.

Traditional white Burgundy drinkers will find Domaine Henri Delagrange Hautes – Cotes de Beaune 2011 ($20) inline with their highest expectations of Bourgogne. It’s intense on the nose with obvious citrus, pear and apple aromas. There’s some yeastiness on the nose too which points to lees aging ultimately enabling this wine to show some weight on the tongue. The finish leaves a convincing impression of minerals with the gravity defying minerality that we’d look for in the chardonnays of Burgundy.


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