Kelly J. Hayes: WineInk
December 18, 2008
Christmas is coming and hopefully your goose is getting fat.In this age of downsizing, anyone who has a goose is lucky, whether fat or not. But as this is the season of Christmas cheer, it is the time to damn the depression, count your considerable blessings and get on with celebrating.So what to drink on Christmas Day with your goose, or your duck, your turkey, your guinea hen or whatever you plan to serve? Methinks this supreme holiday meal deserves the greatest wines you can find (and afford), and in all the world there are no greater wines than those from Burgundy. The silky velvet of a great pinot noir from the cradle of wine is the perfect choice to enhance your holiday meal and celebrate the season.Why Burgundy? History, terroir, people. All of those things go into making the region and the wines what they are today. The history of wine in Burgundy goes back to the second century and has evolved through the advances of conquering civilizations, religious influences, peasant revolutions, world wars and, well, the entire history of modern man. The land is among the most beautiful (and expensive) in all the wine regions of the world and enjoys a unique continental climate that provides vines with just enough sun to prosper and soils that force them to suffer. And the people, the farmers, winemakers and negociants (wine merchants) have lived for generations, perfectly tuned into the harmonies of the earth, hoping and praying that nature will give them a harvest of quality each and every year.The best wines of Burgundy embody all of that. You can feel the hand of a farmer, taste the dirt of the earth, reflect on the history of the family that produced the wine. Or not. The best wines of Burgundy can be enjoyed simply for what is in the glass. The intoxicating color of the wine, the fruit-infused aroma, the silky taste. One need not know a thing about wine to experience the pleasure that a great Burgundy can offer. OK, so which wine to choose. Ah, there is the rub. There are so many great Burgundies, but there are some that are, well, less than worthy of the euros they command. I would suggest doing a little research and asking some of the best wine people you know to make recommendations whenever you buy wines for a celebration and plan to spend substantial coin. Open a wine magazine, look on the web for suggestions, but most importantly talk to the guys in your wine shop.I called JC at Of Grape and Grain this week and asked what he would recommend for some in-stock Burgundies that would pair well with Christmas dinner. I asked for three wines with three different price points not to exceed $125. His first call came from the exceptional 2005 vintage. The Buisson Sant-Romaine Sous Roche 2005, from the Cote de Beaune, will go great with your goose and, at $41, it will be a bargain.Travelling north through the Burgundy, JC went to the Cote de Nuits to select a Vosne Romane Domaine Lamarche 2006 vintage. The Lamarches family-run estate has roots in the winemaking Mecca of Vosne Romane that go back to the 1740s . The vines that grow the grapes used in this wine are 40 years old. That is a lot of history for $84. Finally, moving up in class, JCs choice for a premier cru is the 2005 Jean Michel Gaunoux Vonlnay Clos De Chenes 1er Cru. This wine sells for $112 and is the product of a Meursault-based producer who is perhaps better known for his white Chardonnay wines, but who has accessed Volnay vines for this silky Pinot Noir.I had initially asked JC about a wine that I thought would be an appropriate pour on the day that celebrates the birth of Jesus. The wine, the 2006 Bouchard Pre et Fils Beaune Grves Vigne de lEnfant Jsus is often called the baby Jesus wine and it has been made by Bouchard since 1791. And get this the label hasnt changed since.Alas, with these times, the $175 price tag would have left my goose a little on the thin side, so I opted not to order a bottle. Perhaps Santa loves Burgundy.Merry Christmas, everybody.
Kelly J. Hayes lives in the soon-to-be designated appellation of Old Snowmass with his wife, Linda, and a black Lab named Vino. He can be reached at email@example.com.