Burgundy On A Budget

When I want to be playful, I say that “I don’t like Chardonnay, but I love white Burgundy”. Now don’t be fooled; if it’s white wine and it says Bourgogne on the label, about 96% of the time, the grape is Chardonnay. Aligoté, Pinot Blanc, and a smattering of Sauvignon from Saint Bris comprise the other 4%, which will be proudly indicated on the label.

White Burgundy, or Bourgogne Blanc, is in a class by itself, and prices can reflect that elite attitude. But don’t feel defeat. Like the astute clothes horse that knows how to sniff out bargains, with a little insight, you can drink top end white Burg as a splurge that won’t leave you in debt.

The trick is to seek out wine from great producers in lesser known areas. When you buy a wine from the communes of Chassagne-Montrachet or Mersault, you are paying for the zip code. By looking to the south and north of these esteemed appellations, you can find some comparative steals. One such area is Pernand-Vergelesses. This appellation is in the northern reaches of the Cotes de Beaune, and perhaps gets overlooked because it’s hard to pronounce. Well, forget about the pronunciation, and consider yourself informed!

The esteemed De Montille bottles a glorious example of what Burgundy could be, at ½ the price of their other offerings. We splurged on a De Montille Pernand-Vergelesses 1er Cru Sous Frétille, 2009. The price on the shelf is $45— not your typical weekday wine, but certainly in a celebration sweet spot.

When the wine was first opened, and put into a decanter (because we believe in equal opportunity for reds AND whites to unwind), we were a tad disappointed. It was not letting us get past the acid: big and protective. But that’s what we should expect from a Pernand-Vergelesses. After sitting in a decanter for 2 hours, there was a peek of the pedigree of this producer. Our patience paid off. ’09 was a ‘fat’ year (warm summer, extra ripeness), and this wine, with a modest 12.5% alcohol, had perfect balance, and a rich nose of white linen, almond oil, pit fruit, and licorice at the end. The palate was rich with a classic long finish.

By the final sips, we were calling it a ‘baby Puligny’, and were giggling at the thought of being able to afford a second bottle, for less money than just ONE bottle of actual Puligny-Montrachet!

Find De Montille Pernand-Vergelesses 1er Cru Sous Frétille, 2009 at Suburban Wines.

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