Introducing Burgundy: Rully
As we move into the second half of this quick weekly introduction to Burgundy, I hope it's becoming clear that geography is the key to getting a grasp on this seemingly complicated region.
Both geology and the lay of the land are essential to the character of all the vineyards of Burgundy. To recap: With the sole exception of Chablis but including Beaujolais, all of Burgundy lies along a rather narrow north-south strip that extends no more than 100 miles along the west bank of the Saône River. The most favored vineyards are on east-facing limestone hillsides, particularly the 30-mile stretch near Beaune called the Côte d'Or, which rests on a single long escarpment that produces some of the world's most sought-after Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes.
Just below the south end of the Côte d'Or, the continuous ridge breaks into individual hills, collectively called the Côte Chalonnaise ("Shall-oh-nez"). If it is considered a "low-rent" neighbor of the Côte d'Or, the Chalonnaise makes up for that in value, and at least in its villages wines it makes good shopping for wine enthusiasts seeking "bang for the buck" among relatively modest Burgundies.
The Chalonnaise is subdivided into several wine villages including Mercurey, Givry, Montagny and, the source of today's tasting, Rully ("Roo-yee"). The northernmost Chalonnaise village, Rully produces about equal amounts of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Although it is probably more respected for its whites - for what it's worth, Rully is less than 10 miles from Meursault in the Côte d'Or, featured last week - we sample today one of its red wines, a zesty, light-bodied but very berry fruity Pinot from the young wine maker Vincent Dureuil.
If you're looking for a taste of red or white Burgundy without tapping your wallet too harshly, Rully is one good place to start.
The five remaining wines are all in the cru category, and I thought I would list them today on the off chance any of you would like to look for them and taste along with me over the next few weeks: Arlaud Morey 1999 Saint Denis 1er Cru "Les Chezeaux;" Dureuil 2001 Nuits 1er Cru "Argillieres;" F. Magnien 2000 Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru "Aux Beaux Bruns;" M. Magnien 1999 Morey Saint-Denis 1er Cru "Aux Charmes," and Arlaud Grand Cru 2000 Charmes-Chambertin. The wines should be available from North Berkeley Wine Merchant,
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Vincent Dureuil-Janthial 2001 Rully Rouge "En Guenes" ($12)
Clear ruby in the glass, this red Rully's aromas center on ripe strawberries "lifted" by a hint of volatility and accented with brown spice. Fresh and juicy berry fruit on the palate gains structure and snap from tangy fresh-fruit acidity that's just tart enough to make this one better for enjoying with food than sipping alone. Labeled "vieilles vignes" (old vines), "non-filtré" (unfiltered) and "cuvee unique" (a special bottling for this importer). U. S. importer: North Berkeley Imports, Berkeley, Calif. (Jan. 18, 2004)
FOOD MATCH: I went cross-ethnic for a winter soup match that's non-traditional but perfect with red Burgundy: A beefy, Russian-style beet borshcht.
VALUE: Very good value at this sale price, but would have a hard time keeping up with the competition at its full-retail $23.95.
WHEN TO DRINK: Light and juicy, meant to enjoy but not to cellar.
WEB LINK: For a profile of Vincent Dureuil-Janthial and his wines, click to the importer's site:
FIND THIS WINE ONLINE: Find Vincent Dureuil-Janthial's Rullys on Wine-Searcher.com:
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All the wine-tasting reports posted here are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores and accept no samples, gifts or other gratuities from the wine industry.
Friday, Jan. 23, 2004