Burgundy Tasting Provides Lesson in Style and Value

I was kindly invited to Marquis Wine Cellar’s “Burghound” event this past weekend, which featured a tasting of higher end white and red Burgundies. The main “take aways” for me were about style preference and how relative value can be.

First off, though, kudos to John and all the folks at Marquis for bringing in “The Burghound” (world renowned Burgundy expert Allen Meadows) and doing the tasting. They showed once again why they are the leading private wine store in BC.

Next, some thoughts from the tasting, first on style. Now, I know what my preference is for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (the grapes of Burgundy). For whites, I like oak, with the vanilla, butterscotch and lush mouth feel that comes from malolactic fermentation. And for reds, while I like most California style Pinots for their ripe fruit, I also enjoy the earthier, almost gamey fruit in a lot of Burgundies, a style typified here by Kettle Valley’s Hayman Vineyard Pinot.

So I was a bit surprised that I wasn’t that taken by the wines at the tasting. Two of whites were more Chablis style, pretty lean. Only one was made in my style, but even it seemed light.

Two of the three reds were more my style on the nose, but again, seemed lighter on the fruit side of things, especially given the tannin levels.

But I was obviously in the minority, as everyone else seemed to enjoy the wines.  Some were close to a state of rapture! Obviously their style, to put it mildly.

When you add in the second factor — value — I have to admit it left me scratching my head a bit. The cheapest white was $59.99; the red, $38.95. And they went up — way up — from there, well over $100.

Now I recognize our obscure tax system plays a big part in that.  Those same wines are probably up to half as expensive in Alberta or the US. And it may well be that relative to the kind of Burgundy wines they were ie within Grand Crus and Premier Crus, they might be good values.  Looked at straight up from a price perspective, however, they are not going to be attractive to most wine drinkers and collectors.

But maybe that’s okay too. The wines are made in small quantities and those who love them buy them.  So why complain?

Bottom line is that it shows once again the importance of knowing the style you like and how you personally define value.  Whether it is Burgundy, Bordeaux or BC, it is different for everyone!




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