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A Fresh Take on Chablis

A Fresh Take on Chablis

by Jane Augustine by Jane Augustine

Savary’s Bourgogne-Epineuil Rouge Savary’s Bourgogne-Epineuil Rouge

2021 Bourgogne Epineuil

2021 Bourgogne Epineuil

Domaine Savary   

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Until the late 1970s, in the northern Burgundy commune of Epineuil, few vineyards remained in production. A satellite appellation of Chablis, Epineuil was all but forgotten in the shadow of its illustrious neighbor until a few devoted vignerons planted some Pinot Noir and resurrected it from near extinction. As it often goes in regions better known for white wines, a great red can be hard to find. There are many reasons this can be: Land is valuable, and the local red wines don’t qualify for the fancier appellation classification that a white might carry. Due to climate conditions, red grapes might have trouble ripening and only growers with sunnier parcels are capable of delivering worthwhile rouges. In some areas, such as Sancerre, phylloxera wiped out entire swaths of red grape production and vineyards were replanted to white grapes. Whatever the reason for a red wine’s scarcity, Savary’s Bourgogne-Epineuil makes the case that the elusive rouge among blancs is worth seeking out, and is often a great value to boot.
     Made from Pinot Noir and grown in Kimmeridgian limestone, Savary’s Epineuil is Chablis rouge if one were to exist. It benefits from the same cool climate and fossil-laden soil as Chablis, giving us a red Burgundy with a pronounced mineral identity and a lacy, delicate frame. In contrast with its more structured neighbors to the south in the Côtes de Nuits, Epineuil is juicy and bright, with wisps of peppery, herbal notes. For a light lunch with friends, I opened this bottle alongside a platter of sharp and tangy goat cheese and earthy Saint-Nectaire, some thinly sliced prosciutto, and bowls of white beans with tart sorrel. The 2021 vintage is disarmingly floral, too, blossoming with rose petal and a puckery acidity that’s both refreshing and invigorating. It strikes me as the perfect spring red for an array of tasty snacks and al fresco dining.

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About The Region

Burgundy

map of Burgundy

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.

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Inspiring Thirst

A good doctor prescribed the wine of Nuits-Saint-Georges to the Sun King, Louis XIV, when he suffered an unknown maladie. When the king’s health was restored the tasty remedy enjoyed a vogue at court. Lord, send me a doctor like that!

Inspiring Thirst, page 117