When “value” and “wine” are put in the same sentence, Burgundy never seems to follow. For the vivacious red can never compete with Malbec or Carmenere for the price, but then again, what is value anyway? For wine, value is not just the best 20 under $20, but a great wine for a great price that exists within a particular competitive market. Since Burgundy is by all majority opinion the greatest wine in the world, the competition and quality price ratio (QPR) are a bit harder to judge. Every Burgundy drinker seems to have a fixed QPR set within their brain as they go about their search for the next best thing for their collection.
With that in mind, below are the 5 best QPR Burgundies that I have seen on a year to year basis throughout the last decade. This brings up a controversial point in that by making any top list that delineates a particular producer for year in and year out QPR, I am somehow being antithetical to the laws of Burgundy; that “branding” a wine is a new world thing. By somehow suggesting that these producers and their wine are quality driven every year, presumes they are more focused on a homogeneous taste like Jacob’s Creek Shiraz and not allowing the terroir and vintage variations to speak truth to power. On the contrary, the producers and their wines below, are ones that definitely have a reputation for excellence by making great wine every year at an amazing and competitive price point. They are a cut above the rest. Terroir and vintage are just as important as the ingenuity of the winemaker itself. That is the tripartite of excellence in Burgundy that we have come to know and love.
5. Camus Bruchon Savigny les Beaune, 1er cru Narbontons: $37-$40
This pick is more personal as I love this wine and cannot understand why it is not more popular. But I guess it has to do with the fact that Savigny les Beaune is an area that tends to lack an identity which is sad because several producers have some real interesting premier cru wines with significant village distinction. Bruchon’s premier crus are a tad cheaper than the competition and his Narbontons is my favorite of the bunch. What I love about this wine year in and year out is the sense of purpose it seems to exude from the first smell to the last sip. It almost speaks and says “I know I am cheap and not very respected, but give me a shot and I am going to do everything in my power to make sure that every last ounce of my individual capability is fully expressed.”
4. Armand Rousseau Gevrey Chambertin, Clos st. Jacques: $300-$400
This is definitely a shock to some, but do remember what I wrote in the beginning. Rousseau’s CSJ is to me the best bottle of Burgundy below $500. I would even say there are times I have preferred his CSJ to the Chambertin and Clos des Beze that are nowadays fetching twice the price. Further, when you compare the price tag of CSJ to others from grand cru areas that are above $500 and into the thousands, the price difference is not justified. This is one of the best Burgundies in existence which could charge a lot more, but doesn’t.
3. Domaine Fourrier Gevrey Chambertin Vielles Vignes: $65-$70
Fourrier is hands down one of my favorite producers, but his village Gevrey stands out as an example of how I like my Gevrey in general to be and what basic village wine can aspire to: fresh, vibrant and juicy, as if the most delicate and pure nectar from a berry tree was being whisked along your palate as you stand under a waterfall catching the mist tingling up and down your body. Yeah, that kind of freshness. Every year since 2005 it has been my hands down one of my favorite QPR village wine from the entire Cote d’Or and when compared to other great village Gevreys such as Rousseau’s and Bachelet’s which fetch over $100, this wine is definitely one of the best.
2. Domaine Faiveley Corton, Clos des Corton: $150-$170
I am often surprised at how a wine with such an excellent name and reputation does not get bought up more quickly. Part of it probably has to do with the fact that this wine can’t be touched for at least 30 years from its inception and can easily last a lifetime. Other wines from Corton and nearby Pommard can have this type of longevity, but nothing in this price range can develop the grace and beauty of Faiveley’s Clos des Corton. It can do amazing things in its age and just when you think it has peaked you realize it can last another decade without a hint of decline. When you consider that others which do this type of magic are two-three times the price, you realize what QPR really means.
1. Mugneret Gibourg Vosne Romanee: $60-$75
This is an easy one….no drum roll please! I get very little of this wine every year and it is definitely at the top of people’s acquisition list. Nobody would ever say no to this. It is a village Vosne Romanee that absolutely blows away any other village Vosne out there, let alone any Vosne for the same price. If this wine were $125 people would still buy it. If Fourrier is my answer to Gevrey Chambertin, Gibourg is the truth when it comes to Vosne Romanee. It is perfumed and beautiful with the depth and distinction of a premier cru and did I say it was under $100?
And with that ladies and gentleman, save your money because 2011 is going to be pricey!