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Off the Beaten Burgundian Path

I was trolling the site this morning and I came across the Ultimate Grand Cru Paris & Burgundy offer on the Experiences page. Now that’s a trip I’d give my left … well, that’s not important. The point is: I can’t go, but I’d kill to. The second best thing is drinking Burgundy at home. But, wait, I’m not sure I can do that either. As it turns out, Burgundy produces some of the most expensive and coveted wines in the world. I’ve literally been at an auction where I saw someone buy a case of 1990 La Tache for tens of thousands of dollars and was elated that he had gotten such a good deal. Fortunately, not all Burgundy is as well known as La Tache. Here are some villages in Burgundy that are still in the realm of affordability.

Mâconnais

This region has always gotten a bum rap from wine buyers. And to be honest, some of the wines are a hot mess, but Domaine Leflaive, one of Puligny-Montrachet’s best produers – whose bottlings from the Montrachet vineyard usually fetch around $5,000 – has invested heavily in the appellation of Mâcon; so there must be something to this place. Their Mâcon-Verzé is an impressive drop at $36 and has scored just as well as some of their $200+ Puligny with the critics.

Then there’s Pouilly-Fuissé. To me, Pouilly usually provides good Chardonnay that I can drink easily and don’t mind paying for. The really inspiring wines are few and far between, but they are there. And when you can find them, you will pay half as much – or less – as you would for a Côte d’Or wine of the same caliber. When I go to a wine shop, I always look to see if there’s any Pouilly-Fuissé from the Chânes or Chaintré vineyards. These southern exposition limestone hills are a Chardonnay mecca, producing vibrant grapes with incredible mineral character.

Côte Chalonnaise

The biggest bargains are going to be outside the Côte d’Or, and here’s where you find your reds. Givry is a tiny appellation, but producers like Domaine Joblot produce big results. Typically, Givry is really friendly, light-bodied but pretty Pinot, but Joblot treats this stuff like Grand Cru juice and makes a wine whose structure will knock you over the head with the bottle it came in.

Mercurey is arguably better on average, with big producers like Faiveley investing in the land and winemaking, and thereby setting the bar for their neighbors. Antonin Rodet – who we’ve featured on the site every now and again – makes really beautiful, earthy and rosy Mercurey as well. Coming from an appellation with a higher proportion of premier cru vineyards than the Côte d’Or, how can you go wrong?

Côte de Beaune

Then there’s the Côte de Beaune in the south of the Côte d’Or. There are still some wines here that can be yours for less than $40 that are nothing short of amazing. In fact, my two favorite villages in Burgundy, Volnay and Aloxe-Corton, are surrounded by wines that are similar, but much easier on the wallet.

If you’re a fan of Volnay’s light but beautiful, elegant and complex wines, try wine from the bordering village of Monthelie for probably $20 less on average. If you’re lucky, you can find something from the Sur la Velle or les Champs Fulliot vineyards which share borders with Volnay’s best vineyard, Clos des Chênes.

If you’re more of a fan of Corton’s bigger and more tannic Grand Cru wines, you should look into Savigny-lès-Beaune. In fact, keep an eye to our mixed half case offers this weekend for a treat from the les Marconnets vineyard, which stares right at the hill of Corton. While it shares Corton’s personality, it comes in at about a third the price.

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