Burgundy: Still The King of Pinot Noir
Today’s wine has a long, long name. Actually, this is pretty common in Burgundy, in my experience. To break this down: “Domaine Lucien Muzard et Fils” is the name of the winemaker. “Santenay” is the commune, in Burgundy’s Côte de Beune. “Premier Cru” refers to the vineyard’s status. ((Although “Premier Cru” literally translates to “first growth,” it is actually the second-highest classification of Burgundy vineyards; the highest is “Grand Cru”)) And finally, “Clos des Mouches” is the name of the vineyard itself.
The great battle these days, at least among the wine bloggers I pal around with, is that of domestic pinot. “Who makes the best pinot noir: Oregon or California?”
While my completely shameless homerism and state pride make me, every time, scream out “The Golden State! Carneros! Santa Lucia Highlands! Russian River Valley!” the fact of the matter is, this is a trick question.
Because Burgundy, France still makes the best pinots. Sorry, mes amis Americain.
Take this wine, for example. It’s very good. Not earth-shattering, but very good. It’s also far, far from the best Burgundy has to offer. It’s from a 1er Cru vineyard, and there are tons of Grand Cru vineyards that are leagues better. Its price point falls below $40, which makes it incredibly affordable for a Burgundy.
Yet it is really, very good.
The wine is dark ruby red at its core, and to its edges, it lightens just a shade or two. On the nose are fruit notes that, while not as elegant and refined as some of the better Burgundies I’ve had, are still enticing and inviting: ripe cherries, bright raspberry, and dark, overripe strawberry.
The wine is medium-bodied, and is a bit sharp at first sip—a bit of a surprise, but not enough to ward off a second sip, and a third, etc. The wine is much more complex on the palate than on the nose, as an earthiness is introduced, and the fruit notes darken significantly, to black cherry and blackberries.
The fact of the matter is, if you are finding yourself in an argument about California pinot noir vs Oregon pinot noir, you should probably just cut it out and drink Burgundy. I plan on drinking a lot more in the future.