This bay area resident finds it hard to imagine that any incline could be too steep for development, but Régis Bouvier’s En Montre Cul bottling exists because the hillside parcel where it originates has so far been too elevated to be consumed by Dijon’s creeping expansion. Burgundy’s capital and largest city of 155,000 has claimed thousands of acres of vineyard land, but for now, these holdings of Bouvier’s are safe.This is lucky for us because the grapes that go into this bottling come from a very special site. Montre Cul is so named because, according to its lore, impish harvesters would implore those above them on the slope to “show your rear.” More importantly, it is a historic lieu-dit, one of very few in the Bourgogne AOC to be allowed on the label. Since the 1980s, Régis has eked the best possible wines out of northern Burgundy’s appellations, such as Marsannay and Fixin. He has achieved the same here, overdelivering with this Bourgogne rouge. The 2017 En Montre Cul is classic Bouvier: pretty Pinot Noir whose sneaky seriousness comes through in its lingering finish, replete with notes of black cherries, black tea, and baking spices, fantastic acidity, and a final nip of tannin.
Régis Bouvier in Marsannay achieves a rare hat trick in Burgundy, the mastering of all three colors–red, white and rosé, through reasonable yields and high quality terroirs. Bouvier makes the best Burgundian rosé that we have ever tasted, his whites are delicious, with their own particular character completely unlike other Chardonnays from Burgundy, and his reds are his crowning achievement, managing to be wild and exciting while refined and elegant at the same time.
In eastern central France, Burgundy is nestled between the wine regions of Champagne to the north, the Jura to the east, the Loire to the west, and the Rhône to the south. This is the terroir par excellence for producing world-class Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
The southeast-facing hillside between Dijon in the north and Maranges in the south is known as the Côte d’Or or “golden slope.” The Côte d’Or comprises two main sections, both composed of limestone and clay soils: the Côte de Nuits in the northern sector, and the Côte de Beaune in the south. Both areas produce magnificent whites and reds, although the Côte de Beaune produces more white wine and the Côte de Nuits more red.
Chablis is Burgundy’s northern outpost, known for its flinty and age-worthy Chardonnays planted in Kimmeridgian limestone on an ancient seabed. Vézelay is a smaller area south of Chablis with similar qualities, although the limestone there is not Kimmeridgian.
To the south of the Côte de Beaune, the Côte Chalonnaise extends from Chagny on its northern end, down past Chalon-sur-Saône and encompasses the appellations of Bouzeron in the north, followed by Rully, Mercurey, Givry, and Montagny.
Directly south of the Chalonnaise begins the Côte Mâconnais, which extends south past Mâcon to the hamlets of Fuissé, Vinzelles, Chaintré, and Saint-Véran. The Mâconnais is prime Chardonnay country and contains an incredible diversity of soils.
I want you to realize once and for all: Even the winemaker does not know what aging is going to do to a new vintage; Robert Parker does not know; I do not know. We all make educated (hopefully) guesses about what the future will bring, but guesses they are. And one of the pleasures of a wine cellar is the opportunity it provides for you to witness the evolution of your various selections. Living wines have ups and downs just as people do, periods of glory and dog days, too. If wine did not remind me of real life, I would not care about it so much.
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