So rarely are our Friday nights spent in Boston these days. We’ve been racing up to our house in Peterborough, often leaving in the early afternoon, so that we can be at our local pub for dinner. With no plans for the evening, I went out in search of some wine and cheese while Big Tim went to the gym.
I looked at every bottle on the shelves at Formaggio. Shopping for wine has always been more interesting than anything on TV. I was in no mood for a dark, brooding wine or a big fruit bomb. And I didn’t want to wake up on Saturday morning with a hangover from a 15% alcohol monster. Maybe white, I thought. Maybe a light red from northern Italy. And something around $20 would be my target.
Oh, I was tempted by a good number of wines. That Julie, Formaggio’s wine goddess, really knows how to fill a tiny area of shelves with brilliant treats and adventurous selections. And Ross, another member of their great staff, taunted me with, “have you tried this” and “have you tried that.” I’m weak! Don’t tempt me! I would buy only one bottle and it would be $20… or, no more than $25?
I decided to buy a bottle of Domaine Chanzy’s 2010 Bourgogne. It shouldn’t have been such a difficult decision because it was just what I wanted, a light and low-alcohol red wine. What put me off and intrigued me, at the same time, was the label.
The domaine name was prominently displayed, as was the term “estate bottled.” Good, I wanted a wine that was grown and bottled in one place. That’s simple enough. Also prominently display were the words, “Clos de la Fortune”. Ah, that’s the name of the vineyard. That’s interesting to me because it means that all of the grapes in the bottle come from one single vineyard and “Clos” means that it’s enclosed to some extent. I like that because it often means there is some history to the vineyard. But the wine was simply labeled “Bourgogne,” which means that this interesting vineyard isn’t located in one of the prestigious villages with sky-high prices.
Why was I hesitating? The label also noted, “100% Pinot Noir.” Duh! It’s a red burgundy. Well, I guess they also grow some Gamay in Burgundy. But you rarely see the varietal and, I wondered, is it on the label because this bottle was made for sale to consumers who don’t know what Burgundy is? I shook off that bit of wine snobbery, confident that Julie only buys delicious wines, and I brought the bottle home.
It is a delicious wine. Light in body and color. There is good acidity that is vibrant on the tongue and that would make this delicious with food. The fruit is pure cherry with very little of the Dr. Pepper taste found in many California Pinots (not that there’s anything wrong with that!) The flavors aren’t intense but they linger on the palate.
Domaine Chanzy was a family business, purchased in 1974 and expanded over the years. Clos de la Fortune is a monopole (a vineyard that is owned by only one entity) in Bouzeron, part of the Cote Chalonnaise. The vineyard has Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Aligote grapes. What I hoped was going to be a picture-book story of multiple generations toiling in their ancient Clos is, instead, the story of a family business that started with the purchase in 1974 and ends with its sale, a bankrupcy, and court-approved purchase by a private equity firm last year. Sigh. Not very romantic.
All that palate lingering gave me time to think about labels. Here’s a neat little summary. In Burgundy, labels must contain these nine items:
1 → Batch number preceded by the letter L (on glass, label, rear label, neck label, capsule).
2 → Bourgogne wine or Great Bourgogne wine (interprofessional agreement).
3 → Allergen notice : if SO2 > 10 mg/l (since November 2005).
4 → Nominal volume usually expressed in centilitres.
5 → Name of country of origin for wines intended for export.
6 → Health warning recommending that pregnant women should refrain from drinking alcohol.
7 → Alcohol content expressed in % vol.
8 → Name, address and capacity of the bottler mentioning the locality or its postal abbreviation.
9 → Product description this is the name of the appellation followed ’Appellation d’origine Contrôlée’.
Optional information that may be included:
1 → Year of crop if all the wine in the bottle comes from the same crop.
2 → Commercial brand Signature of the producer. Sign of recognition intended to guarantee the quality of the product and encourage customer loyalty.
3 → Name of grape variety 100% of the wine must come from the grape variety mentioned. Tolerance in Bourgogne for regional AOCs.
4 → Place of bottling ‘Bottled in the region of production’ or ‘bottled at the property’
Optional:Old vines, hand-picked grapes, made and matured by…
Other optional informationColour,Production method, growing method (e.g. : wine from organic farming), official distinctions etc …