Humble Wines

by Dustin Soiseth

Last fall, a few days before a big portfolio tasting, my colleagues and I got together to go over the featured wines and decide who would pour what. There were some big names in the lineup and serious negotiations ensued as we angled to pour the most prestigious wines. I mostly avoided the fray though, because I only had eyes for a humble Aligoté. Why so excited about the “other” white grape of Burgundy? Because it is made by Arnaud Ente, and it is better than many comparably-priced Meursaults or Puligny-Montrachets.

By now, my clients are probably tired of hearing me say that entry-level wines from great Burgundy producers usually over-deliver. Yet whenever I taste through the selections from a top domaine like Méo-Camuzet or Chevillon, I always end up feeling like it’s the best advice I can give them. Like Ente’s electric Aligoté, these entry-level wines often carry the basic Bourgogne AOC label, yet are still made with the same care and attention to detail as the more expensive cuvées. What they lack in prestige, they more than make up for in QPR.

Purchasing a few bottles of Bourgogne Rouge or Blanc instead of one or two pricier bottles maximizes my modest wine budget. That way, I have several bottles from Chevillon, Bruno Colin, Méo-Camuzet, or Lucien Boillot in my cellar instead of just one or two, and I get to enjoy them at several points in their evolution without having to fret about finding the perfect moment to pull the cork.

Of course I’d love to have a cellar full of premier cru and grand cru Burgundies, but that’s just not going to happen right now, and that’s fine because at the end of the day, these Bourgognes fit my hectic, kid-centric life. They have personality, a sense of place, and excel at the table. They don’t require a special occasion to be properly enjoyed, yet can make any occasion a bit more special.

Dustin’s Favorite “Humble” Burgundies

2014 Bourgogne Blanc • Bruno Colin $34
(available in the Berkeley shop)
The Blanc sees the same élevage as his premier cru whites, and is full of pure, chalky Chardonnay fruit.

2014 Bourgogne Aligoté • Arnaud Ente $75
(available online and in the Berkeley shop)
While certainly not cheap, it’s less than half the price of his sought-after Meursault and is vinified in the same manner.

2014 Bourgogne Rouge • Bruno Colin $29
(available in the Berkeley shop)
Bruno’s rouge is a blend of parcels in Chassagne-Montrachet and Santenay, and always has a hearty peasant rusticity.

2014 Bourgogne Rouge • Lucien Boillot & Fils $35
(available online and in the Berkeley shop)
Full and structured, this is a blend of fruit from Volnay and Gevrey-Chambertin that takes a year or two to unfurl.

2014 Bourgogne Rouge • Méo-Camuzet $39
(available in the Berkeley shop)
Definitely the most silky and sensual Pinot of the lineup. This really starts to roll after a few years in bottle.  Only 2 cs left.

2014 Bourgogne Rouge • Robert Chevillon $47
(available in the Berkeley shop)
Consistently elegant, with the exotic, spicy nose found in the domaine’s top bottlings.

Call 510.524.1524 or Email Dustin >

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