Located about 160 miles south of Paris, the region begins at the town of Dijon and runs southward another 80 miles, almost to the city of Lyon. The climate has a tendency to run on the cooler side, giving grapes a long growing season.
The 2009 vintage is being referred to as a vintage of "nines," alluding to other great vintages that occurred in '59, '69, '79, '89 and '99. The cool, calm winter led to a mild spring, which was punctuated by the perfect amount of rain in April and May. The summer was dry but not too hot, with a few heavy downpours in late August. The weather was dry and sunny in September and harvest went smoothly with little or no worry of fungus or grape rot.
This exceptional vintage proved especially beneficial for the exceptionally finicky pinot noir. While chardonnay performed well, it's the red wine counterpart that is stealing the show with exceptional balance, bright flavors and remarkable aging potential. Unfortunately, when rare vintages like this come along, demand goes up and prices head towards the stratosphere. However, there are still some great values to be had by both major negociants and smaller producers. Retail prices for the following pinot noir wines are approximate.
One of the most well-known families in Burgundy is behind the value-driven 2009 Maison Joseph Drouhin Bourgogne Laforet ($15). Aromas of raspberry, cherry and red currant have a delicate attack on the nose and are repeated on the palate as well. A touch of strawberry and clove appear on the light-bodied, charming finish. This is a crowd-pleaser and a great alternative to heavier red wines. QPR 7
Made from fruit sourced from the villages of Ladoix and Auxey-Duresses in the Cote d'Or the 2009 Champy Bourgogne Pinot Noir Signature ($20) is a delicious entry-level wine. With scents of red fruit and dried cherries on the bouquet and flavors of fresh strawberry, raspberry and red cherry on the palate, this wine is fun and easy to drink. The abundant acidity keeps the fruit in balance on the medium bodied finish. QPR 8
The 2009 Domaine Dublere Savigny Les Beaune Les Planchots du Nord ($30) is produced by local ex-pat Blair Pethel. The grapes for this wine are literally grown in the backyard of the Dublere winery and much of the fruit is used in this stunning wine, which sports a pretty nose of cherry, red berry and cinnamon. The vivid flavors of cherry and wild strawberry shine across the tongue and are joined by wonderful mineral notes on the long, graceful finish. QPR 9
The Premier Cru (1er Cru) designation is the second highest classification of quality in Burgundy, and the 2009 Louis Jadot Beaune 1er Cru Clos des Couchereaux ($46) is certainly worthy of the distinction, delivering wonderful depth with perfumed scents of strawberry, sweet cherry and violet on the nose and rich flavors of plum, strawberry and clove in the mouth. The impressive finish remains charming and graceful thanks to the great balance between acidity, fruit and soft tannins. QPR 8.5
Drinking like a wine twice the price, the 2009 Remoissenet Savigny-les-Beaune 1er Cru Les Serpentieres ($50) runs to the bigger side, featuring scents of ripe black cherry, smoke and mushrooms on the floral nose. Layered flavors of dark plum, ripe strawberry and cocoa coat the tongue with richness and balance. The elegant finish ends with a distinctive toasted cedar note. QPR 9
Note: QPR is a rating system that compares the quality a wine delivers relative to the price. A QPR of 10 is considered an excellent value.