Sunday, September 26, 2010

Touring Vineyards in Burgundy

During my recent trip with family members to the Burgundian wine region of France, we had some pleasant tastings at a couple of renowned wineries -- one in the Cote de Nuit region of the northern Burgundy and the second in the southern appellation of Macon-Lugny.

In this blog post, I'll discuss the first of two vintners we visited. His name is Philippe LeClerc, and he has a reputation for being a superb, yet iconoclastic winemaker in the Cote de Nuit. Wine writer Cynthia Hurley calls him a "perfectionist." We visited his office and cellar in the village of Gevrey-Chambertin, and we tasted five reds (100% pinot noir).

LeClerc doesn't filter any of his wines, so as one reaches the bottom of a bottle, there is very likely to be some deposit of sediment. Neither does he use the typical machine-presses to extract the juice from his grapes.

Yet the judgment that most significantly distinguishes LeClerc from his Gevrey-Chambertin and Cote de Nuit peers is that year in, year out, LeClerc tends to be one of the last winemakers to harvest the grapes from his vineyards.

We enjoyed his wines, although nearly all of them were being drunk at least a few years before they'll fully mature. The wine that was truly "ready" to drink was good, but far from stellar.

I enjoyed this degustation. The staff were welcoming and pleasant, not snooty.