The Henri Clerc Puligny-Montrachet is young white Burgundy in all its glory
Wine is known for making food taste better, but it can also improve the ambiance of a meal. This has little do with the alcohol; rather, it’s about the quality of the wine and how its enjoyment makes everything else seem better. Which is exactly what the Henri Clerc Puligny-Montrachet did recently.
The Big Guy wanted to have wine with lunch, which meant we had to eat at the blog’s unofficial BYOB restaurant. The catch, as we discussed on the drive there, was that the food had been ordinary lately and the service worse. It’s not asking too much to be greeted politely at a restaurant, is it? And especially when you eat there as often as we do?
Not to worry, The Big Guy told me. I have some Puligny, and all will be well. And he was exactly correct – the Henri Clerc Puligny-Montrachet ($50, purchased, 13.5%) smoothed out all the rough edges, and I remember the wine much more than I remember the rest of the lunch.
The Clerc is the kind of wine that reminds us why French wine is French wine, if only because the estate dates to the 16th century. The wine itself — chardonnay from the Puligny-Montrachet region of Burgundy is young. The term is “nerovisite” – sort of like a teenager who can’t sit still. As such, it should open and become more elegant and richer as it ages over the next decade. Now, though, it’s delightful – lots of fruity acidity (crisp pear, pleasantly tart pineapple?); full through the middle; and lots and lots of the wonderful Puligny minerality on the finish.
Highly recommended, and just the gift for Father’s Day if Dad wants something other than a big, red, and fruit bomb-y wine.
You love your Mom, right? You want nothing but the best for her, don’t you? Then the Belland Les Champs-Gain is the wine for her and Mother’s Day.
The Belland Les Champs-Gain ($70, purchased, 13%), a premier cru from the Puligny-Montrachet region in Burgundy, is everything that great wine is supposed to be. It’s the kind of chardonnay that people dream about, and that even those of us who don’t want to pay more than $10 for wine will drink without hesitation — subtle and muted, with layers and layers of flavors and aromas.
Look for white pepper, a brilliant use of oak, and almost ripe apples, three signs of great white Burgundy from Puligny. But there is so much more going on that it’s almost impossible to describe. Besides, just listing a bunch of adjectives won’t come close to doing the wine justice (even though that’s apparently what I’m supposed to do).
Highly recommended, though availability may be limited. In which case, ask your retailer for something similar, and you can’t go wrong. White Burgundy remains one of the few parts of the French wine business that hasn’t shot itself in the foot, head, and behind, for which the Wine Curmudgeon is quite appreciative.
I don't have anything against expensive wine. I even drink it myself when the occasion arises. My point is that we expect everyone to drink expensive wine, whether they want to or know anything about it instead of realizing the limitations involved. It's like learning to drive — you don't start with a Lamborghini, do you?
In fact, I told the people on the show, I look for the same thing in expensive wine that I look for in cheap wine — value. And the Sauzet ($50, purchased) delivers on this count over and over and over. It's chardonnay from the French region of Burgundy, and specficailly the area called Puligny-Montrachet. In this, the wines are elegant and always in such balance that it's almost impossible to believe.
Sauzet is just one of many excellent producers from the area. The 2006, which I've tasted three times, has changed — and for the better — each time. Always, it's a mix of green apple fruit, spiciness (cloves or white pepper?) oak nestled in the background, and the minerality that defines this wine.
This would make a lovely gift for The Holiday That Must Not be Named, as well as for any dinner with someone you care about.