If someone were to ask me what my top five favorite wines of the year are right this second, I would have to say that three of them come from Burgundy. Ok, sure, not surprising, Burgundy’s red and whites make up a large percentage of my (limited) collection. But no, none of the three come from Vosne-Romanée or Puligny-Montrachet, not even Chablis. This commune in fact has zero grand crus! Believe it or not, three of my favorite wines of the year come from the large commune of Beaune.
“Beaune, really?” I know Beaune quite regularly produces some fairly average wines. It is extremely large (third largest commune after Gevrey-Chambertin and Meursault) and therefore its resulting wines vary quality and pedigree. However with some of Burgundy’s greatest domains owning vineyards and/or making wines, there are bound to be some noteworthy wines – and this past year I have had some.
The first wine was Bouchard’s 2005 Vigne-de’Enfant-Jesus coming from a set of vines in an enclave of the Gréves 1er cru. This vintage of “Baby Jesus” was one of Bouchard’s greatest efforts ever. The wine showed perfectly ripe fruit, outstanding depth, and elegance that young Burgundy often lacks. It was so good that I made the sinful choice of bringing some bottles to Thanksgiving dinner.
Bouchard also produced the second wine of these three. Again from the 2005 vintage, Bouchard’s Beaune du Chateau 1er Cru rouge was a surprise winner. Produced for the first time in 1907, Beaune du Chateau is a blend of various 1er cru vineyards throughout the commune. It’s not one of Bouchard’s more notable wines, but in the 2005 vintage this wine absolutely rocked. It possessed a decidedly more oak influence than the Baby Jesus, but it was equally ripe with beautifully, round red berry fruit. Side note: it was also perhaps NY Vintners best selling red Burgundy of 2008.
Now the last wine of this group, and frankly the reason I came up with the idea for this blog, is Tollot-Beaut’s 2002 Beaune Gréves 1er Cru rouge. I was lucky to randomly choose this wine off of Bouley’s wine list this past Easter brunch. Having little to no experience with Tollot-Beaut wines, I trusted my instincts (the price and the vintage were appealing) and ordered a bottle for the table. Right away the wine absolutely sang. If there was ever a wine to reinforce your faith in Burgundy’s greatness, this wine did it. Bold and complex with ripe strawberries, cherries, and spice, the three of us made our way quickly through the bottle and ordered a second.
Unfortunately, none of these wines are available at NY Vintners anymore; however, if I had to choose some replacements the following would certainly make the list…