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Dazzling but Rarely Mentioned Burgundy

Catch up with a red wine from a little-known Burgundian appellation and a companion white that also punches well above it price point.

Hands up those of you familiar with the Coteaux Bourguignons appellation.

I am not expecting too many raised hands, but it replaced the (somewhat self-explanatory) Bourgogne Grand Ordinaire classification just over 10 years ago.

It is a region-wide appellation that adopts a more relaxed stance on grape varieties in an area where unblended pinot noir and chardonnay largely reign supreme.

Today, we shall focus on a terrific red that takes advantage of this appellation’s flexibility with grape varieties.

Next we switch hemispheres to consider that red wine’s companion – a South African chenin.

That also takes a route less travelled in its own way.

Its point of difference from the conventional concerns the yeast used.

As is normal here, pictures and hyperlinks are provided where possible to guide you straight to the right wine on shelf or web page.

Friday Night Treat

Let’s start with that talk of yeasts.

2022 False Bay Slow Chenin Blanc (from £8.55 at Wickhams and 13.5% abv):

  • This is a honey influenced white from South Africa.
  • It uses wild rather than cultivated yeast.
  • Peach, apple and melon are at its foundation.
  • Citrus acidity gives it extra liveliness.
  • A marzipan centred texture completes the picture.

Most inexpensive wines employ cultivated yeast to maximise predictability and consistency.

However, naturally occurring “wild yeasts” from grape skins or from the winery itself are used for this South African white.

They add variation and often – as here – brilliantly tasty complexity to the finished wines.

Textured and with traces of honey, this example also produces clean-tasting, peach, apple and ripe melon flavours supported by citrus acidity and hints of marzipan.

Sunday Best

And Back to that Burgundy.

2020 Domaine de la Creuze Noire, Coteaux Bourguignons (£14.50 at Aitken Wines – but stocks are dwindling fast – and 13%)

  • This Burgundian appellation allows both pinot noir and gamay.
  • Here it is gamay that takes the lead.
  • Dark in colour, this example has bold acidity but little tannin.
  • Plum and strawberry are its principal flavours.
  • These are joined by chocolate and baking spice elements.

The Coteaux Bourguignons appellation permits both pinot noir and gamay grapes (and some others) from the Burgundy region to be used in its red wines.

The idea is to allow flexibly created fruit-forward wines without losing the Burgundian style completely.

This one achieves that goal with wine that is largely gamay centred.

Quite dark in colour but with lovely clarity, it has red plum, strawberry and rose hip flavours.

Accompanying components include chocolate and baking spice centred depth and bold acidity – but little tannin.

Bonus Item

2021 Ordinal Piquepoul Roussanne (£9.95 at Aitken Wines, Dundee and 12.5%):

  • This has equal proportions of roussanne and piquepoul.
  • Consequently, it is slightly weightier than conventional Picpoul de Pinet.
  • The same saline influences are at work though.
  • Its main flavours are quince and tropical fruit.
  • Herbal elements and lemon acidity also join the party.

While you are ordering that red from Aitken, I suggest you buy this white as well.

It is a variation on the popular Picpoul de Pinet theme and from the same broad geographic area.

There is some disagreement whether picpoul and piquepoul (in its white grape form) are the same grape or distinct and separate varieties.

Of more importance than the name though, is the need to note that this is a 50:50 blend of that variety with the plumper roussanne grape.

Soft with saline touches, the outcome delivers weighty apple, quince and tropical fruit flavours.

Here, they are combined with a lively lemon acidity that sits beside hints of camomile and other herbs.

Retailer Notes

Wickham Wines is a recently created, but go-ahead, operation based in the West Country of England but retailing across the UK.

It is run by Dan Farrell-Wright originally from the Army but with experience in e-commerce before moving into wine.

By contrast, Aitken Wines was established in 1874 and are based at the opposite end of the UK – Dundee – but, of course, also operate online.

They have an extensive range of wines and are very much what you expect from a classic but approachable “indy”.

As always, I should remind folk that delivery charges may apply to wines bought from any online retailer.

Call in again on Monday when the spotlight falls on Top Tips that offer especially good value at a store near you.

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4 Responses

  1. Just shopped in Lidl Brian and they have a Bourguignons rose by Colin-Bourisset at £7.99. Our quest for cheap but real Burgundy continues. The Pinot-Gamay cuvees might get us there. Weird as it might seem even when I just think about red Burgundy my lips start smacking!!!

  2. But, sadly, your wallet will start trembling. Interested to hear reports of that rosé if anyone has tried it.

  3. Hi Brian, a rather nerdy observation …

    I well remember wines under the Passetoutgrains label, which must be at least 30% PN, at leat 15% Gamay but less than 15% of “other allowable grapes” i.e. Chardonnay, Pinot blanc and Pinot gris. (Simple!) I recall examples that gave a feel for red Burgundy but at a lower price point. But don’t see them very often these days, although BBR have some rather high class (and expensive) examples. (Rather like Aligote used to be the lesser, cheaper white Burgundy, but is now a bit niche and quite pricey!)

    There seems to be an overlap between Passetoutgrain and Coteaux Bourguignon. But I found this explanation …

    “Coteaux Bourguignons can be single-variety or blended red or white, whereas Passetoutgrains is always red and needs to be a co-fermented blend of at least two grapes (Pinot Noir and Gamay) with other local grapes allowed.”

    The term literally means “all the berries go through” or in other words “all the grapes are mixed together” – i.e. co-fermented.

    I’m down for a Bourgogne tasting later this month where I may find out more about the new structures in this area! I suspect a full understanding will be worthy of a doctorate!

  4. Thank you Richard and I think you underestimate your current (non-geeky) knowledge – certainly at Masters level if not (yet) doctorate! I must say I had assumed that Coteaux Bourguignon absorbed the Passetoutgrains examples so thank you for putting that right (and explaining the difference lucidly). Enjoy the Burgundy event

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