Two of the best French Burgundies on a budget

Not that kind of Burgundy

For those (few) diehard followers of this writer, it’s self-evident that I don’t need much of an excuse to write about pinot noir.

So ’twas a happy household moment when I stumbled across a “wine-day” calendar and noted International Pinot Noir day looming large on August 18.

How could I let this go unreported?

Pinot noir’s quintessence is found in the Côte d’Or, a strip in North-Eastern France just 40km long and less than 2km wide. The region’s importance is best summed up by an old wine associate who was fond of saying; “If the journey to wine nirvana doesn’t end in the Côte d’Or, you took a wrong turn somewhere along the road”.

That said, the last 30 years has seen a dramatic global increase of pinot noir plantings and while it’s nowhere near as ubiquitous as the other great Burgundian grape – Chardonnay – pretty handy pinot noir is now made in many far flung corners of the earth.

Over the next few days we will explore some very tidy examples from different geographical regions, concluding on Saturday the 18th, with a trio of pinots among the best I’ve seen for some time.

Today we kick off in France with two ripping good “entry level” wines:

2015 Bourgogne Rouge Lucien Muzard

RRP $42

From the physiologically ripe and generously sized 2015 vintage, this is produced from three parcels of vines planted in 1950 and farmed organically.

About 10% new oak used and 1250 dozen produced approximately.

Medium dense red with darker tones. Tight, deep dark red fruit notes, with a background of spice and cool, rich forest soil.

Tense vibrant red and black fruit notes on entry, really lively, intense and tight middle palate which expands into a fruity panoply which finishes long, fragrant and spicy with refreshing acidity and tannin.

Ridiculously good for a simple bourgogne rouge. A bargain.

2016 Bourgogne Rouge Benjamin Leroux

RRP $70

They say it’s an ill wind that blows no good. Frost in the 2016 vintage meant that Benjamin Leroux had insufficient yields to produce individual cuvées from some of his premier cru vineyards in Santenay, Beaune and Monthelie, so they were added to other Bourgogne a.c. holdings in Saint-Romain, Hautes-Côtes de Nuits and Pommard to come up with this overachieving multi commune blend. Our win.

Brilliant medium red appearance. The bouquet leaps from the glass with notes of chilled raspberries, wild strawberries, cherries and a back note of spice.

A ferment with no stems and plenty of whole bunches means a palate chock full of exuberant fresh fruit, with the red fruits dominating the palate with complexing savoury notes of fresh herbs and menthol.

Refreshing and in someways similar in satisfaction to, the pleasure derived from some of the best cru Beaujolais, with the undeniable bonus of pinot noir flavour and complexity. Very, very gluggable.

TOMORROW: Two of the best from Tasmania.

Frank Wilden is a retail food strategist and a “lapsed” restaurateur whose love of wine began nearly four decades ago.

Frank is writing this regular wine column for Business Insider Australia. If you have wines you’d like him to try for this column, contact him touch with him via @thefrankreport on Twitter

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