Ah, the miracle of white Burgundy! How does it achieve such complex, beguiling enchantment?
Chardonnay the world over can result in hugely appealing wines, provided they aren’t over-cropped or over-oaked. But nowhere in the world does it attain such sublime perfection as it does, in the right vintage, and in the right hands, as Burgundy’s Côte des Blancs.
One such happy convergence is the current Nick’s Wine of the Week, the Five Star Chassagne-Montrachet, Morgeot, Marquis de Laguiche 1er Cru, Drouhin 2009 ($100). It is another example of that endlessly repeated, but too often forgotten or ignored, lesson that the best way to find great Burgundyis to pay attention to the name of the propriétaire/négociant rather than the AOC classification: Grand Cru, Premier Cru etc..
This gem is “only” a Premier Cru, but it is one of the greatest white Burgundies I have ever drunk. Yes, 2009 was a perfect vintage – it was difficult to make bad wine anywhere in Burgundy that sun-filled summer – but the two names on the label, Marquis de Laguiche and Drouhin, are of more importance than the classification. It was a partnership between these two gentlemen in 1947 that is responsible for this wonderful wine.
The Laguiche family have owned some of the most prized vineyard land since before the Revolution, but in 1947 the then Marquis, realizing he lacked the expertise to fully exploit the potential of his holdings, entrusted the whole operation to his friend, Maurice Drouhin, owner of négociant and winemaker Maison Joseph Drouhin.
The Laguiches provide the land, the Drouhins the winemaking skills, and both are essential for achieving wine as sublime as this.
It is a wine that rewards attention. It is quite shy. It doesn’t reach out and grab you the way so many big California Chardonnays do, its charms are more subtle than that. There’s a refined, restrained delicacy, layers of fruit, and lace-like acidity mingled with hints of a flinty minerality, all rounded off with just a touch of oak.
It was perfection with grilled swordfish.
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