Burgundy is more of a minefield than ever. With hundreds and hundreds of small producers as well as some sizeable outfits, quality remains disconcertingly uneven while prices for the best wines have climbed into rock star territory. But it can still be a gorgeous treat – perfumed, silky and seductive. While not exactly cheap, this version oozes Burgundian charm at a strikingly fair price.
One reason is that it comes from Mercurey, an appellation in the Côte Chalonnaise that’s less prestigious than fancy-pants areas like Gevrey-Chambertin, Nuits-Saint-Georges or Volnay. (As a general rule, Burgundy’s best value lies in lesser-known sub-regions.) The other factor is economy of scale: with 90 hectares of vineyard, the Château de Santenay is a sizeable outfit as well as a fascinating one.
With roots stretching back over a thousand years, this large domaine located close to Beaune belonged in the 14th century to the Duke of Burgundy known as Philippe the Bold. More recently it fell on hard times but ownership by the Crédit Agricole has brought new investment, revitalisation and a portfolio of impressive wines. They have been certified by the Terra Vitis organisation for sustainable viticulture since 2004.
Château de Santenay Mercurey Vieilles Vignes 2016
I love this wine’s inviting aromas – red cherries, raspberries, subtle spice – and its smooth, almost creamy texture. It’s lively on the palate too, with a juicy succulence and impressive depth of flavour – helped, no doubt, by the fact that the grapes have the concentration associated with the fruit of old vines.
Like almost all red burgundy, this Mercurey will taste infinitely better with food than without it. It’s versatile enough to suit cold meats, roast chicken, duck or pork; dishes with melted or toasted cheese or indeed any middleweight vegetarian dishes that make you incline towards red rather than white. Not too swaggering in terms of alcohol or style, it’s perfect for autumn.
This and other Château de Santenay wines are imported directly into Ireland by the Celtic Whiskey Shop (also known as Wines on the Green) at the top of Dawson Street, Dublin 2 – a place I strongly recommend both for its hand-picked range and its keen pricing.
By the way, Bubbles and Burgundy is the theme of the next Gloss wine dinner in the Garden Room of the Merrion Hotel on Wednesday November 27. I look forward to introducing six magnificent wines with six delectable courses at our most glamorous wine evening of the year. Tickets €90. To book please telephone 01 275 5130.
From Celtic Whiskey Shop/Wines on the Green, Dublin 2 and celticwhiskeyshop.com; also Nectar Wines, Dublin 18, €29.50.
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