March 03, 2008

Wine That Tastes Better Than Its Price

I'm always looking for good, inexpensive wine that is really worth drinking. Sometimes unknown labels deliver pleasant surprises. But the easier bet for finding worthwhile bargains in my experience is in the cheaper labels of the better producers. It's not always true (ahem...Mouton Cadet), but the exceptions prove the rule.

But let's get one thing straight. I'm not advocating for those who hype those "just outside the AOC" wines. You know the ones you read about in wine shop newsletters. "This would be Chateauneuf but the owner didn't bother with the forms, so it's Cotes du Rhone in name only." These stories are sometimes true. But more often they seem as ridiculous as the idea that some generic Bourgogne is distinguished because it's "just a nine iron from [such and such] Grand Cru." A nine iron? Isn't the basement just an elevator ride away from the penthouse? That's a short ride but a big difference.

N0, I'm thinking of the bargain bottlings from producers that don't typcially mess around with bad wine. Evesham Wood in Oregon is a great example with its red wines. The basic Pinot Noir is always nice. Even the "Bruno" label they do for their local distributor for even less money is worthwhile. A. et P. de Villaine in Burgundy is similar. Their wines always seem interesting, no matter the price. They even make reference standard Aligote, and if anything is going to get its corners cut, it's Aligote.

With that in mind, I don't have much experience with Guy Bocard wines from Meursault. But I've heard they're good and figured they probably make good cheap wine. So I bought a bottle of Bocard's 2002 Bourgogne Blanc, and sure enough this was delicious and, while certainly not Meursault, really showed Cote d'Or character for very little money. This isn't a current release, so I had the added chance to see how good cheap wine might keep for a few years.

The wine started a bit stale, not oxidized as many people are finding their aged white Burgs. Rather, something less severe that just suggests the wine is getting a bit too old. Happily this element receeded with air time in favor of really nice baked apple and seashell aromas. In the mouth the wine was bright but flavory, with nice length and a mineral note that mixed well with the ripe yellow fruit flavors. I wouldn't keep this too much longer, but at 5 1/2 years this is terrific, distinct and inexpensive white Burgundy.

Who says you have to pay a lot for interesting wine? And no 9-irons required. Just don't refer to it as "baby Meursault."

1 comment:

Marshall Manning said...

They're about $36 & $40 at L & E, I believe, but the 2004 and 2005 Jobard Bourgognes are both excellent and both are "baby Meursaults". That is, they are all declassified Meursault fruit, and taste like it. While they still aren't cheap, they are better than the Meursaults from many producers.