Chardonnay, Don't be a hater: A study in white Burgundy

Village of Vire` in the Macon
You knew it was gonna happen.  All winter long we've skated by without an epic snow storm...well, we got it, and it's (kinda) over, for now.  Even though it's snowing again this morning!

When we dug out in the middle of this week we started to scratch our heads about this week's tasting.  We thought, it's cold, there's a ton of snow, people will likely be watching football this weekend...let's pour white Burgundies! 

It's not just to be contrarian that we are going to pour six amazing white wines in the middle of winter, in a snow storm.  Rather we actually find ourselves thirsty for these medium-full bodied, rich and layered white wines now in the dead of winter.  These are not white wines for the mid-summer heat, they pair much better with a cozy blanket and a bowl of popcorn (or if you must, your florescent red buffalo wings and blue flecked ranch dressing).  Either way, you should drink white Burgundy now.

Ok, so not only are these wines proven to help you shovel better but they are also a study in perhaps the greatest grape (yes, it's arguably charodonnay, and yes, I'll happily argue with any of you about it over a glass of chardonnay) but we've also honed in on the most historical and unique place in the world to grow it, Burgundy. 

Tonight we'll explore the wonders of some of the greatest whites wines in France in three parts.  North Burgundy; up by Chablis, etc.  South Burgundy; down by Macon, etc. and Central Burgundy; right around Beaune,where the really famous/expensive stuff comes from.  Each of these three area's offers vastly different approaches to the same grape (always* chardonnay)  [*not always], and of course we've picked out some of the best natural producers in each of these respective sub-zones. 

Ok, long story short...put on your snow boots and get in here for some world class chardonnay.  Will we pop open a red wine for the non-believers?  You'll have to find out for yourself.

The Wicked good Chaaardonnay kid, Lineup: (does not pair with Superbowl)
North Burgundy:
Domaine Goisot, Saint-Bris, Cote d'Auxerre $20
Ok, I lied.  Remember when I said all* white Burgundy is made of chardonnay...well there are exceptions, few but important exceptions, and this is one.  Saint-Bris is a tiny, almost unknown AOC in northern Burgundy.  It's actually much closer geographically and geologically to Sancerre in the nearby Loire then it is to the rest of mainstream Burgundy down south.  They grow sauvignon blanc here and it thrives.  They have the same kimmeridgien limestone soils as Sancerre and a climate perfect for sauvignon.  This biodymanic producer is certainly one of the best in Saint-Bris/Auxerre and a fun discovery. 
DeMoor, Bourgogne Citry $30
Alice and Olivier DeMoor have been long time shop favorites and have gained a solid following and recognition amongst the best in the Chablis area of Burgundy.  They started now nearly 15 years ago and have been able to take simple, humble terroirs in places like Citry that orbit the grand cru's of Chablis, and make exceptional wines.  Citry is a tiny village and a place that once was the literal border town between Champagne and Burgundy.  The wines are racy and pristine yet DeMoor always manages nice ripeness and depth in there wines. 

South Burgundy:
Jean Manciat, Macon-Charnay $20
Next up is a classic from the south of Burgundy.  The wines of the Macon, from this simple village wine to the powerhouse domaines always offer a different side of the spectrum of white Burgundy.  Down here ripeness is less difficult and maintaining freshness and acidity is key.  This is such a good wine for the money so grab a couple!
Domaine Roally, Vire-Clesse` $28
The Pouilly's get all the attention down in the Macon for being the big, showy stars of the region but one of our favorite village wines are those from Vire and Clesse.  The steep rugged slopes, deep clay and limestone soils and excellent altitude and exposure set these wines up for power and richness.  In the hands of amazing winemakers like Thevenet here and Valette down the road, if you're not yet into Vire-Clesse`, now's the time.

Classic Burgundy:
Terre de Velle, Bourgogne Blanc ($23) &
Monthelie Les Sous-Roches ($45), Beaune
Now we get down to business.  We couldn't in our right mind have a serious white Burgundy tasting without a couple from the real epicenter of great chardonnay.  Terre de Velle is by no means a historic or classic reference point for Beaune wines but they have quickly gained a following since their first vintage in 2009 as one of the leaders in naturally made, modern Burgundies.  Here we have 2 cuvee's each showing the quality and distinct terroir they have to offer on the slopes of Monthelie and Auxey-Duresse.  Special wines indeed, not open for tasting all that often.

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