Louis Moreau Chablis 2014 is 100% Chardonnay with no oak, only natural yeast and a little more than two weeks in fermentation. It’s another of those "hidden gems" Devillard spoke about at just $19. The nose smells just like the sea, loaded with minerals and salinity. Flavors of fresh, crisp apples grace the clean palate.
Chateau de la Greffiere La Roche-Vineuse Sous Le Bois 2014 comes from another family estate. The wine is aged on the lees (spent yeast cells) in steel tanks. Devillard says this one comes from "down south." We might say, Mâcon, in southern Burgundy. Aromas of flowers are a delight, and the salinity on the palate definitely threw me off. I forgot where I was for a second and wondered aloud, "Sauvignon Blanc?" Devillard shot me a look and a grin. It’s an $18 bottle., and worth every penny.
The Jacques Bavard Saint-Romain 2013 from Puligny-Montrachet is grown at a high altitude, and has the cool-climate trademarks to show for it. The $20 retail is a steal for a Chardonnay with little oak, nice weight, fresh acidity and bright spice. It’s flinty, but round.
Twenty centuries of winemaking have taught them a thing or two in Burgundy since the Romans first planted vines there. They claim that Mediterranean influences to the south, continental influences to the north and oceanic influences to the west make for a vast and varied wine region, one with which none can compare.
Of course, Bordeaux will take exception to that, as will the Rhône Valley, the Languedoc, Napa Valley, the Finger Lakes and the high plains of Texas. I mean, what kind of wine region would you be if you didn't think your dirt was the best?
Devillard was in Los Angeles recently for a spate of tastings and met with me for a picnic in the park. He and Cécile Mathiaud (left), the head of PR for Bureau Interprofessionnel des Vins de Bourgogne, along with Sopexa publicist Marguerite de Chaumont Quitry brought wine, a fine spread and their magnetic personalities to brighten an ordinary Wednesday afternoon. Mathiaud offered a theme for the picnic when she said, "In France, food is as serious as wine." While Devillard and I moved to the end of the picnic table, where the wine was, to let the ladies set up the feast, she quipped, "Ah, as always, the women in the kitchen and the men in the cellar!"
I always think of of Pinot Noir when I think of Burgundy. But actually, 61% of Bourgogne wines are white, Chardonnay. 29% are red, 9% are cremant and just a fraction are rosé. Two-thirds of the winemakers in Bougogne are small producers, says Devillard.
In France they have a term for a farming philosophy which allows "treatments of the vines only when absolutely necessary," says their info. It’s called called Luttes Raisonnées - an idiomatic expression that literally means "reasoned fight" in English. Why they don't just call it laissez faire, I don't know. Maybe some vintners have to duke it out every now and then to protect their biodynamic and organic viticulture practices
Here are my thoughts on Devillard’s own wine, the Chateau de la Chamirey 2012 Mercurey. In the coming days, we’ll sample some of the other "hidden gems" of Bougogne that they brought with them.
The Chateau de la Chamirey is a Chardonnay that is 50% steel aged, 50% oak. It sells for $30, which makes it one of the more expensive gems on the table this day. The nose is rich and funky, with a wonderful earthy aspect that balanced the fruit perfectly. On the palate, the limestone soil of the vineyard comes though plainly, with a flinty touch that I find irresistible in white wines. Devillard pointed out the "increased greasiness" of the wine, which I translated as an oily character - full and round.
Follow Randy Fuller on Twitter