Friday, February 16, 2007

Beating Back Burgundy Anxiety: 2000 Baron de la Charriere Volnay Santenots


Now I see.

I just had my first encounter with Burgundy that was not in a restaurant or at someone's house where I couldn't think about it properly. Recently I bought a selection of red Burgundies from Chronicle Wine Cellar, all of which were Vincent Girardin wines labeled for European markets under the "Baron de la Charriere" brand. This was my chance to start drinking them.

What a good experience--and a reminder that we all benefit from getting out of our wine comfort zones once in a while, whether its drinking more/less expensive wines, wines from a different region, or wines made with a different varietal. We are creatures of habit, and it's easy to fall into ruts without realizing it.

Cautionary note to all readers: I am not well-versed in Burgundian wines, so take this as "notes from a palate in development." I do drink a lot of US pinot noir, but this bottle clarified the differences between French and US style wines made with this varietal--just as there is with any grape. The 2000 Baron de la Charriere Volnay Les Santenots ($19.95, Chronicle Wines) was an excellent QPR wine. It was bright ruby in color with a richness and opulence that was very attractive. It had aromas of herbs and cherries that kept coming from the glass in waves, right down to the very last drops. Flavors of cherries, fresh raspberries, rare roast beef, and a mineral twinge kept this wine interesting. There was a nice juicy finish. My overall sense of this wine was balance: it was fruity without being jammy, velvety without being syrupy, lush without being over the top, with its elements kept in perfect symmetry.

The miracles of podcasting made it possible for me to drink this wine while listening to part 1 of Grape Radio's interview with Allen Meadows of Burghound fame. It's an excellent show, and I learned a lot. If you are new to Burgundy, I recommend you check out this podcast from the American Wine Blog Award finalists at Grape Radio--even if you don't have a red Burgundy or pinot noir to sip with it.

I wanted something rustic, earthy, and warming to go with this wine, so with Allen and the Grape Radio boys playing away through my favorite Christmas present--the IHome under cabinet iPod player--I started cooking some roasted pork with blue cheese polenta. You were supposed to roast the pork in the oven with fresh figs, but they aren't in season right now so I threw a couple of handfuls of whole button mushrooms in around the pork and they were a good substitute. (I also substituted a pork loin for the pork tenderloin in the recipe simply because I prefer that cut--you can, too, but it will take a bit longer to cook so use a meat thermometer to make sure it's done before you pull it out of the oven.) The blue cheese tang of the pinot was a perfect counterpoint to the cherry flavors and aromas in the wine, and I think roasted pork is always great with pinots.

After this, I'm feeling much less generalized Burgundy anxiety. And I'm really looking forward to continuing to explore the wines of Burgundy.


Joe said...

Despite the hundreds of wines I have tasted, I still have major Burgundy anxiety, mostly because I hate paying a lot of $$$ and drinking a dud (too many of those experiences). This wine is not available locally, but I will keep an eye out for it, and any new Burgundy commentary. Cheers!

Dr. Debs said...

I know exactly what you mean, Joe. That was my experience with Burgundy in restaurants (yech) and when I drank nice stuff at someone's house I would inevitably discover it was WAY out of my budget. I'm not surprised you can't find this where you live. I think it was the last of the Girardin in the warehouse that had the European label so they just wanted to offload it. But, my guess is that a good merchant you trust could point you in a good direction in the store if you want to try one out. I loved this Burgundy--but I don't imagine I'm going to become a regular drinker of the stuff anytime soon due to the $$$ of most good ones!

Joe said...

Brooklynguy has been tasked to come up with a list of inexpensive Burgundies, so I think he is on a mission. Here's hoping he delivers!