Thursday, June 5, 2008

"The Ultimate Minefield"

Those were the words that wine critic Robert Parker, Jr., recently used to describe the French region of Burgundy. But, in this article, the N.Y. Times' Eric Asimov sees the glass as half full. He writes:

In fact, the quality of Burgundy — red Burgundy in particular — has risen strikingly over the last two decades. From the smallest growers to the biggest houses, the standards of grape-growing and winemaking have surpassed anybody’s expectations.
These days, Burgundy has very few bad vintages, and among good producers, surprisingly few bad wines.

The best producers, like Domaine de la Romanée-Conti and Armand Rousseau, always managed to achieve a high standard, but nowadays the bar has been raised for everybody. And it’s not just the Côte d’Or, the heart of Burgundy, that has shown such improvement. Surrounding areas like the Côte Chalonnaise and the Mâconnais, still part of Burgundy, are producing better wine than ever, at not unreasonable prices.

Sure, you can still find bad Burgundy. But really, it’s not hard to find bad wines from any fine wine region.

... I spent five days in Burgundy last week to get a first-hand look at the reasons for the surge in quality. In traveling the Côte d’Or from Marsannay in the north to Santenay in the south, visiting two dozen producers, tasting hundreds of wines and drinking not quite that many, it was easy to see that this leap upward has been 25 years in the making, an eternity in the Internet world but a split second at the rhythmic agricultural pace of viticulture.

Most striking of all was the number of young producers making superb wines, whether they have taken charge of their family domains or started out new.

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