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Burgundy: The Roads Less Traveled
By Robert Whitley
Apr 10, 2018
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BEAUNE, France — The biennial Les Grands Jours de Bourgogne this year took a look at the recently released 2016 and 2015 vintages, with a handful of wines from the 2017 vintage thrown in for fun.

There is intense interest in the 2016 vintage in particular, because poor weather in the spring of that year brought down yields in many of the vineyards. It is an excellent vintage, but there isn't enough of it to meet worldwide demand.

That means the great grand cru and many premier cru wines will not only be in short supply but also very expensive. That spiked my interest in less acclaimed areas.

I was especially impressed this year with several producers from Rully and Mercurey. Both regions have a more or less well-deserved reputation for rusticity. Their whites can often be dull, and the reds astringent. Several producers made impressive wines in 2016, and I was particularly impressed by the wines of Antonin Rodet and Domaine de Suremain. The reds from both producers were beautiful, refined and elegant. The quality of the tannins rivaled some of the top wines from the more renowned Cote de Nuits. You can bet they will retail in the United States for a fraction of the cost.

I also made a nice discovery from the Cotes de Beaune, which is well-regarded for its splendid white Burgundies but not so much for its reds. Domaine Sebastien Magnien presented a wonderful Bourgogne rouge (the Bourgogne tag being the lowest rung on the quality ladder) as well as three top-notch reds from Beaune and Pommard.

Once again, because of the location, these wines will not fetch the extreme prices seen in the Cote de Nuits. Magnien also presented a beautiful premier cru blanc, but that's to be expected. What was most impressive was the great purity of his 2016 Bourgogne rouge, which was anything but generic.

The following are some of my notes and ratings from my tastings of these often-overlooked areas. If you have a taste for red or white Burgundy but find it hard to swallow the prices from more highly regarded districts, these wines will give you a run for the money.

Tasting Notes

The grades are simply a measure of this reviewer's enthusiasm for the recommended wine.

Antonin Rodet
2016 Rully Premier Cru blanc La Bressande, A-
2016 Rully Premier Cru blanc La Pucelle, A
2016 Rully Premier Cru rouge Molesmes, A+
2016 Mercurey Premier Cru rouge Sazenay, A+

The 2016s Rodet presented from Rully and Mercurey exhibited a remarkable consistence of very high quality. It is easily one of the star producers of the vintage.

Chateau de Chamirey
2016 Mercurey Blanc, B+
2014 Mercurey Premier Cru blanc La Mission, A-
2015 Mercurey blanc En Pierrelet, A
2016 Mercurey rouge, B+
2015 Mercurey rouge Clos de la Maladiere, A

Chamirey's whites were fresh and clean, with good minerality. The reds were complex and elegant.

Domaine Sebastien Magnien
2016 Beaune Premier Cru blanc Les Aigrots, A
2016 Bourgogne Rouge, A
2016 Bourgogne Hautes-Cotes de Beaune rouge Clos de la Perrieres, A
2016 Beaune rouge Les Bons Feuvres, A
2016 Beaune Premier Cru rouge Les Aigrots, A
2016 Pommard Les Perrieres, A+

Reds from the Cotes de Beaune generally live in the shade of the famous reds from the Cote de Nuits, but the second-class status sometimes isn't justified. Magnien makes the case!

Domaine de Suremain
2016 Mercurey rouge, A-
2016 Mercurey Premier Cru blanc Sazenay, A-
2016 Mercurey Premier Cru rouge Les Crets, B+
2016 Mercurey Premier Cru rouge Le Clos l'Eveque, A
2016 Mercurey Premier Cru rouge La Bondue, A+
2016 Mercurey Premier Cru rouge Sazenay, A+

Suremain's reds from 2016 were refined, with polished tannins and exceptional complexity. The village Mercurey was stunning and will have a very good price.

Maison Joseph Drouhin

2016 Rully blanc, B+
2015 Rully rouge, B+
2015 Mercurey rouge, B

These are solid wines that will be widely available in the U.S. at modest prices.

Paul et Marie Jacqueson
2016 Bouzeron Les Corderes blanc, A
2016 Rully blanc, A-
2016 Rully Premier Cru blanc La Pucelle, A+
2016 Rully Premier Cru rouge Les Preaux, A-
2016 Mercurey Premier Cru rouge Les Champs Martin, B+

The whites from Jacqueson tend to be delicate and floral, with complex notes of brioche and minerals. The reds are complex and elegant.