The winter season in Burgundy can be a brutal stretch of time for locals. Tourists have migrated away, days are short and gray, and the vineyards —once a patchwork of color-blocked parcels—look deserted and bare. But come February the Côte is back to business as usual. Vignerons who have been busy in their cellars since harvest ascend one by one, equipped with warm gloves and a pair of pruning shears, to perform la taille. Last year’s branches are trimmed, clipped, and then gathered into neat piles and used as kindling in wheelbarrow-like furnaces parked downslope. The burning bundles, like snuffed candles, release billows of scented smoke into the icy air. The sight and smell of roasting rootstock all the way from Chassagne to Chablis is a unique delight. It’s with this distinct memory of Burgundy in February that we’ve chosen two exciting interpretations of its terroir by producers Valentin Montanet and Bruno Colin. While tasting these wines, remember that a regional appellation under the care of a skilled artisan has an infinitely more authentic expression than a fancy grand cru at the mercy of a clumsy one.
The fruit in this blanc comes from the northern Mâconnais, which explains its textbook orchard fruit and crystalline finish. To relate to this wine, Valentin suggests you grab a barstool, a whole saucisson, and a hunk of chèvre and post yourself at the zinc countertop of a classic French bistro for a tête-à-tête. Or if, like me, you don’t live in Paris, pour a glass with Jacques Pépin’s fines herbes and goat-cheese omelet for Sunday lunch.
There’s a little hint of Christmas spirit left over in this wine. Tiny red berries, sweet spice, and pine sap, maybe. Unlike some Bourgogne rouge struggling to make an impression, this one won’t lose its cool. It’s pure Pinot with an earthy core, reminding you exactly which part of the world it comes from.
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