In Burgundy, the land is all chopped up into vineyard sites and ranked based on things that happened a long time ago (and because the French love to rank things). This wine is from Pinot Noir vines planted in 1960, from a village that should be far more recognized for its red wines than it has been. This situation goes back to Middle Ages – here’s a quick synopsis: back then, the guilt of the Catholic Church compelled dying landowners to bestow their holdings to the monasteries, a kind of insurance policy for getting past the pearly gates, I guess. Not a bad move.
The Benedictine Monks (who loved the luxe life as it turns out) took over the vineyards, and, with meticulous attention to detail (and no shortage of time), cultivated and logged every detail of each vine, vineyard, and site along the way. They discovered the nuances that led to even slight variation among wines. Later, the Cistercian order got in on the action and so, men of the cloth created the classification system based on the intricacies of terroir that are still used to divide Burgundy today into Grand Cru, Premier Cru, and Village level. Napoleon then came along and complicated the shit out of everything by mandating equal inheritance, which means the most famous vineyard sites can have dozens of different owners - imagine sharing one ham sandwich with all of your cousins and siblings.
So, while this Pinot Noir is from Burgundy, it's technically village level, that is like saying this delicious pizza is village level pizza. So what? Pizza is ALWAYS good. Especially when made with good ingredients. When the raw material is epic, and the winemaker is a skilled hand, it’s going to be good you’re only ranking it if you’re being a jerk. I mean, you’re not going to be checking Yelp before you order pizza at the spot you’ve wandered into while on vaca in Naples, are you? ARE YOU??
This is a robust, cherry-flavored wine full of something deep and lasting, that goes beyond a checklist of qualifications to justify its worth. Like eternal love. It’s got all sorts of power and vigor for the long haul, but also comes with a quiet satisfaction, one that doesn’t need too much dissecting or analyzing. No need for filler chat. A you-play-Candy-Crush, I’ll read my book, and we can have Sports Center on in the background, on mute, while we wait for our home-cooked meal to be delivered kind of quiet. Comfortable but not boring at all. Again, like pizza.
Or a good song. Or a good woman. This is a wine you should drink with all of the above. Even if you are the good woman and even if the pizza is not from Naples. Because after all, aren’t love, music, pizza and wine really one and the same?
THE CHEAT SHEET
THE WINE: Jean-Marc Pillot Chassagne-Montrachet ‘Mes Vieilles Vignes' Burgundy, France 2011
THE GRAPE: Pinot Noir
HOMETOWN: Burgundy, from the village of Chassagne-Montrachet
TASTES LIKE: Deep red cherry, meaty, properly savory and contemplative as a good Burg should be.
GOES DOWN EASY WITH: Guys, Burgundy sounds fancy but it’s Pinot Noir. A familiar friend from a far away place. There’s room on the dinner table for whatever you’re in the mood for (especially braised beef, lamb, or pork ribs, just sayin)
IF YOU LIKE: James Bond movies, this is the wine version.
WINE HACK: Open it up 20 minutes before you want to drink it and let it stretch its legs. It’ll have more stories to tell. Or save it for 30 years and learn all the secrets - it'll only get better.