Fri 25 Jan 2008
These email messages arrived within about six minutes of each other, the first from the Burgundy division of Sopexa USA (the French trade group) based in New York, announcing its fourth annual “Burgundy Best Buys”; and the second from the estimable Burgundy Wine Company, also in New York (and from which on occasion I have purchased wine), trumpeting the triumphant return of Clos des Lambrays Grand Cru in the superb 2005 vintage.
One understands Sopexa’s efforts to promote affordable products from Burgundy, a small, hallowed region whose tiny, segmented vineyards yield minuscule amounts of some of the world’s greatest and most expensive wines made from chardonnay and pinot noir grapes. The names of those vineyards, particularly the prestigious Grand Crus, are spoken with respect and reverence, and the wines that issue from them are not for the likes of ordinary pocketbooks like mine and (I guess) yours. The 20 wines on the new “Burgundy Best Buys” list (which I will reproduce in full below) range in price from about $16 to $35, depending in what part of the country you live, and would provide a great deal of versatility and pleasure in your household. Are these the best, the highest level of examples of Burgundy? Well, no, but judging from the labels and producers that I have tried the wines are well-made, satisfying, delicious and authentic. And they don’t cost $185 a bottle, which is what Burgundy Wine Company is charging for Clos des Lambrays Grand Cru 2005.
Burgundy Wine Company’s newsletter welcomes Clos des Lambrays 2005 to the fold with the joy which which the father greeted the return of the Prodigal Son: “And so it’s back!” Indeed, this has been a troubled domaine (Domaine des Lambrays) and a troubled vineyard. The property had fallen considerably in repute from the end of the 1940s through the 1970s, under the Cosson family, and it was purchased in 1979 by a group led by the Saier family, who worked hard and managed, in a rare instance of a change in the Burgundy classification system, to have Clos des Lambrays elevated to Grand Cru status. Still, neither the vineyard nor the wine made from it earned much respect from critics, and when I visited the domaine in March 1990, the Saier brothers seemed subdued and defensive. It was, I’ll admit, a chilly, gloomy day. In the mid 1990s, the estate again changed hand; the owners now are Gunther and Ruth Freund.
Burgundy Wine Company has — or had, yesterday — eight cases of Clos des Lambrays 2005. Purchasers of a case will receive (or would have received) a 10 percent discount, bringing the price per bottle to $166.50, thus a case being $1,998.
On the other hand, for the price of one bottle of Clos des Lambrays 2005, you could buy seven or eight bottles of wine from the “Burgundy Best Buys 2008″ roster; altogether, the 20 wines would cost — again depending on geography and availability — $529. What fun!
Now I understand clearly the the world operates strictly, and always has, on the principle of “You pays yer money and you takes yer choice.” So be it, right? You got the time, you got the dime, you get to finish the rhyme.
But I can’t help thinking that in a world that is drastically different economically than it was six months ago, when housing foreclosures are sky-high, and the stock markets in the United States are tanking and taking the rest of the world’s markets with them and my 401(k) is going down faster than a $10 hooker in the back seat of a Coupe de Ville, as I say, I can’t help thinking that it’s unseemly for Burgundy Wine Company to crow quite so gleefully and giddily about the “return” of a wine that costs $185 a bottle or $1,998 a case with your discount.
I mean, talk about bad timing.
Here are the 2008 “Burgundy Best Buys” from Sopexa.
1.Cremant de Bourgogne 2004, Dufouleur Pere et Fils. $16.
2. Bourgogne Chardonnay 2005. Maison Louis Jadot. $17.
3. Chablis 2006, Domaine Christian Moreau Pere et Fils. $23
4. Pouilly-Fuisse 2006, Laboure Roi. $18.
5. Bourgogne Chardonnay 2006, Domaine Pernot et ses Fils. $30.
6. Vire Clesse Vieilles Vignes 2006, Domaine des Chazelles. $30
7. Saint-Aubin 1er Cru “Le Sentier du Clou” 2006, Domaine Sylvain Langoureau. $35.
8. Mercurey (blanc) 2005, Chateau de Chamirey. $34.
9. Chablis 1er Cru “La Singuliere” 2005, La Chablisienne. $28.
10. Saint-Aubin 1er Cru “Le Charmois” 2005, Champy. $25.
11. Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2005, Chanson Pere et Fils. $21.
12. Bourgogne “Emotion de Terroirs” Pinot Noir 2005, Vincent Girardin. $22.
13. Bourgogne Pinot Noir Vieilles Vignes 2005, Maison Albert Bichot. $17.
14. Mercurey Domaine de la Croix Jacquelet 2005, Maison Faiveley. $23.
15. Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2005, Domaine Dominique Gallois. $32.
16. Cotes de Nuits-Villages Vieilles Vignes 2005, Nicolas Potel. $30.
17. Mercurey (rouge) 2005, Chateau de Chamirey. $34.
18. Beaune du Chateau 1er Cru 2005, Bouchard Pere et Fils. $34.
19. Pernand-Vergelesses 1er Cru “Les Fichots” 2005. Champy. $25
20. Beaune 1er Cru “Aux Cras” 2005, Champy. $35.