The Mysteries of Burgundy
From Chablis to the Côte d'Or to Beaujolais, Finding the Best Wines of this Fabled Region is Always a Challenge
Posted: April 1, 1995
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Louis Jadot remains a shipper--yet not quite. The reason its wines are exceptional is that it, too, has moved to purchase vineyards as well as enter into long-term contracts with growers. Its best wines (both red and white) come from grapes Jadot owns or controls. Overall, its standard is exemplary, equal to the best growers.
Other shippers have varying strengths. Joseph Drouhin is very good, even though many of its wines are intentionally made to be drunk young. Labouré-Roi is an up-and-comer. It has redefined the role of the shipper (which traditionally put only its own name on the label) by arranging at least 60 estates to bottle their wines--under the grower's own label. Labouré-Roi's own wines are usually very good value. The shipper Louis Latour does an especially good job with white wines, not so with reds. In comparison, the shipper Faiveley is a better performer with reds than whites.
The Guide to Growers
The topic of growers gets too complicated for the space available. The really good Burgundy growers number between 100 and 200, depending upon who's doing the counting. New ones keep cropping up all the time, as brothers (and, increasingly, sisters) divide family inheritances and create their own labels.
The following producers are personal favorites. I'll stick to Chablis, Côte d'Or and Côte Chalonnaise because that's where the best wines are found. Precisely because they are per-sonal favorites, the lists are far from comprehensive. Someone else could as easily create an entirely different roster--and be just as correct. But I'll say this much: if you start with these producers, you'll get a terrific idea of how good a Burgundy can be.
Chardonnay yields in Chablis are excessive, and prices have never been higher. The producers I look for are depressingly few. The best are Domaine Raveneau, René & Vincent Dauvissat and Domaine Louis Michel. Other good producers include Domaine Jean Collet, Domaine Guy Robin, Domaine de la Maladière/William Fèvre and Domaine Robert Vocoret.
It's almost overwhelming to start listing by village; there are so many villages and so many good producers in each one. Better, if only for reasons of space, to divide into producers of great red Burgundies and great white ones. The villages or single vineyards of their best wines are in parentheses.
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