White Burgundy – The Original ChardonnayPosted: January 23, 2012
White Burgundy is my favorite wine to drink. I discovered it by accident about 35 years ago, at a Las Vegas casino, where in lieu of the “4 drink minimum” we could order a bottle of expensive wine, and I was lucky enough to stumble upon a Puligny Montrachet. At the time, it was the best wine I’d ever tasted. And by that time, I’d tasted a couple of Premier Grand Crus: Chateau Haut Brion, and Chateau D’Yquem.
The main difference between French White Burgundy and California Chardonnay is that the CA wine is fuller, more buttery and vanilla-y, and more “voluptuous”. It often has more oak. The French wine is often “leaner” with more mineral, citrus and melon flavors, and to my taste, much more complexity. It often finishes quite differently than it starts.
Over the years, I’ve had many wonderful bottles from the white burgundy region, and while we were in Europe 2 summers ago, we attempted to drink it almost every day! On my bucket list is clearly a wine tour through Burgundy.
White Burgundy comes in many appellations, including the Montrachets: Batard Montrachet, Chassagne Montrachet and Puligny Montrachet (in declining order). In your local wine store, you can expect to pay $50-300 for better bottles (the stuff under $30 can be ok, but you will encounter some hit and miss), and you can get really first-rate stuff for $60-70. Because not too many restaurants stock these, the mark-up is steep, and you will pay $140-175 for a decent bottle on a wine list. Of almost equal quality is Meursault. Less expensive but very drinkable are Macon and Pouilly-Fuisse. I personally am not a big fan of Chablis, but you might like it.
Better white Burgundies stand up well to poultry and pork as well as fish, and are also wonderful with snacks, hors d’oeuvres, and lighter meals.
Look for Grand Cru or Premier Cru for highest quality. If you haven’t explored these, please try them. You will enjoy the difference from your usual California Chardonnay.