There was once a Guy Larue from Saint-Aubin, a young man drafted into the army in 1938, sent to the front against the invading Germans a year later, taken prisoner, and moved to a farm deep in current-day Poland for five years of forced labor. He found his way home in 1945, several months after the war ended, having endured seven years away from his village and family, with no one aware if he was still among the living. All the young ladies of the area had already married, and he worried he might have missed the boat. Patience paid off. Not only did he meet his future wife in due time, but also she was the owner of several choice parcels of Saint-Aubin, including a plot in Sur le Sentier du Clou—perhaps not the village’s most famous premier cru, but one of the most sought after by vignerons for its perfectly placed, mid-slope, east-facing position. The high limestone content gives this Pinot plenty of spice and ripe cherry with great acidity and persistence. Today the couple’s son Didier is the proud owner and steward of the land.
The Larue holdings are spread between the two villages of Saint-Aubin and Puligny-Montrachet. These holdings include seven premier crus, on south, southeast, and southwestern facing slopes, grown on variations of clay soils with a high concentration of limestone. The domaine's premier crus vineyard in Puligny-Montrachet, La Garenne, sits at a high altitude in the Hameau de Blagny, bordering Meursault. Their most prized vineyard, Saint-Aubin premier cru “Murgers des Dents de Chien,” shares its name with the Dents de Chien lieu-dit of Le Montrachet that is right around the corner and is capable of producing wine that can age and improve in the bottle for decades.
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.
Great winemakers, great terroirs, there is never any hurry. And I no longer buy into this idea of “peak” maturity. Great winemakers, great terroirs, their wines offer different pleasures at different ages.
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