White, 2013, Burgundy, France, WINE

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Arguably the world's most revered wine region, the name Burgundy is evocative of so many superlatives that's its futile to list them all. The red Pinot Noir wines and white Chardonnay wines from France's landlocked, continental east stand squarely in the pantheon of the world's finest. The region's fame is centered on its various geographical and climatic expressions of very specific vineyard sites through the medium of two grapes. Indeed, the term terroir seems to be have coined specifically to describe this phenomenon. The broad Bourgogne AOC designation encompasses so many sub-zones, villages, and single-vineyards that entire tomes have been written throughout the centuries attempting to explain it in all its intricacies.

The region's finest wines come from the long, east facing slope of the Côte d'Or, which is further divided into two main sections. The northern section of Côte de Nuits contains the most cherished Pinot Noir vineyards in the world. Up and down the slope, differnt patches of marlstone and clay overlay the limestone crest of the Côte, and numerous pockets and gentle folds create an array of slope aspects. Travelling south down the Côte, the villages of Marsanny and Fixin are a good introduction to the landscape of the Côte de Nuits, and although the wines are not nearly as refined or revered as those further south, they offer a rustic, savage edge that is distinct to their particularly iron-rich soils. The village of Gevrey is the beginning of a truly stunning run of excellence, with wines known for power, depth, and the longest lives of any Pinot Noir in the world. The highlight is the Grand Cru complex of Chambertin. While all plots bearing the name are considered excellent, Chambertin itself is the apex of power in Burgundy. Morey-St-Denis is an afterthought sandwiched between its more illustrious neighbors, but this tiny commune boasts five of the twenty-two red Grand Crus on the Côte, and the overall village style is similar to that of Gevrey, but without quite such intense stucture. Chambolle-Musigny is one of the crown jewels of Burgundy, thanks in large part to the Musigny Grand Cru, one of the three or four greatest vineyard sites in the world, period. The wines from this village are the epitome of elegance and grace, quite the opposite of its neighbors to the north. Moving south through the village of Flagey and the lesser Grands Crus of Echezeaux and Clos de Vougeot, greatness again rears its head. The Grand Cru and Premier Cru plots in Vosne-Romanée are among the finest, most expensive lands under vine in the entire world, and rightly so. The wines of Vosne-Romanée combine elements of spicy concentration and sappy texture with the most suave finesse imaginable. The profile is truly indescribable. The commune of Nuits-St-Georges can claim no Grands Crus, but the best sites in this village can certainly rival the lesser Grands Crus for complexity and ageworthiness, as the wines display a certain fortitude reminiscient of Gevrey-Chambertin.

After a brief break in prime vineyard land, the Côte de Beaune resumes the line of great sites at Corton, a prominent, solitary, conical hill, which has vines on all sides. The eastern slope is covered by secondary red Grand Cru plots, but its true claim to fame are the white Grands Crus on the south slope, centered around Le Charlemagne. On the backside of the hill, across from its western slope, the small village of Pernand-Vergelesses is quietly producing racy, if a bit rustic, red wines from cool, east-facing vineyards. One of a handful of side valleys running west off the main slope of the Côte, Savigny-les-Beaune is another lesser-known village that is nonetheless making some of Burgundy's best value wines for their prices. The village of Beaune in the centerpiece of all of Burgundy, its commercial and cultural heart. The vineyards above the village are predominantly Pinot Noir, but there are also some very admirable Chardonnay plantings among the red vines. The wines are typically gentle, medium-full examples with plenty of charm and mid-term life spans, but without the depth or complexity of the Côte de Nuits. Pommard's iron-rich red soils impart a stern tannic streak to the wines, which is not generally countered by any level elegance. Rather, these wines are brooding, darkly structured, and stout, but just across the AOC line, the soils abruptly change to limestone, and the red wines from Volnay, though lighter and racier, are exemplary of the perfumed elegance that this terroir brings to its wines. Up another side valley outside of the town of Meursault, the villages of Monthelie, Auxey-Duresses, and St-Romain are produce compelling red wines and very enjoyable whites. The Meursault AOC itself is on the same limestone bed as Volnay and, although there are no Grands Crus here, the best premier cru sites yield white wines of softer, richer texture and long, perfumed flavour profiles. The next two village AOCs lay claim to the greatest white wine vineyard in the world. Puligny-Montrachet, just south of Meursault, is apogee of refinement, elegance, and finesse in white Burgundy. Beginning with the ultimate white Grand Cru, Le Montrachet, the top vineyards here produce wines with bright structure, medium weight, and ethereal mineral and floral character. Chassagne-Montrachet to the south contains about a third of the area of the Montrachet Grand Cru complex, but this village is at least as well known for its rustic red wines. The white wines do not display the richness of Meursault or the finesse of Puligny, but they still show tremendously appealing floral and nutty components backed by firm, acidic structure. The red wine village of Santenay marks the southern terminus of the Côte d'Or, where the wines are generally well-made, but lack the profundity of those from the best villages to the north.

To the immediate south of the Côte d'Or lies the rolling, pastoral hills of the Côte Chalonnaise, similar to Beaune in soil type, but at a higher elevation and without the defined ridge line. A great volume of both red and white wines are produced here, with wide ranges of quality, but the best tend to come from the villages of Montagny, Rully, Givry, and Mercurey. Some 35km south is the white wine hotbed of Mâconnais. Limestone bedrock and slightly warmer climate favor Chardonnay over all else, and some of the Côte d'Or's best producers are now staking claims around the villages of St-Véran, Viré-Clessé, and most notably, Pouilly-Fuissé.

At either end of the main stretch of Burgundy lie two highly distinctive AOCs with very particular specialties. Approximately 100km northwest of Dijon is the village of Chablis, where ancient sea beds form the distinctive Kimmeridgian limestone soils that give the Chardonnay wines their highly specific character — clean, chalky minerality and dancing, electric acidity. The finest premier cru wines, and even some Grands Crus, are among the greatest price-to-quality wines in Burgundy, and the regional style has attracted a devoted, almost fanatical following from aficionados. The nearby red wine AOC of Irancy does much the same for Pinot Noir.

South of Mâcon, the Beaujolais AOC is technically part of Burgundy, but really only on paper. The heavy, granitic soils are best suited to the Gamay grape, yielding lightly fruity, highly mineral, elegant wines, in general. Vineyard plantings are widespread, but the best wines come from ten specific communes under the Beaujolais Cru designation. Morgon, Moulin-à-Vent, and Côte de Brouilly produce the most profound wines with the best aging potential, while Fleurie and Regnie are the epitome of elegance and finesse here.

Burgundy is without question the most complex, byzantine, and often confusing region in France, but it's also without question the most rewarding. Every serious wine lover can point the moment in which they discovered the impossible greatness of these wines. When one descends down the Burgundy rabbit hole, the world wine is turned on its head.

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91-93 points Neal Martin (Wine Advocate): The 2013 Saint Aubin 1er Cru Derrière Chez Edouard has a marvelous, mineral-driven bouquet that soars from the glass with hints of wilted white flowers in the background. The palate is very well balanced, very harmonious, a wine where you can taste the… ...
WA 91-93
AM 90-92
JG 90
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Lamy/Hubert St-Aubin 1er cru Derriere Chez Edouard Blanc 2013  (#323859)

Pinot Noir from St.-Aubin, Côtes de Beaune, Burgundy, France

91-93 points Neal Martin (Wine Advocate): The 2013 Saint Aubin 1er Cru Derrière Chez Edouard has a marvelous, mineral-driven bouquet that soars from the glass with hints of wilted white flowers in the background. The palate is very well balanced,…

750ml Bottle | In stock, 7 available
WA 91-93
AM 90-92
JG 90
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