If there was only one village to choose, for me it would be Chambolle Musigny. Pinot Noir at its most perfumed, lacy, and transparent. While the relative size of the village and its domaines are small, the grower François Bertheau's production of 1,250 cases annually is Chambolle on a micro scale. The rarest of his wines, the Bourgogne Rouge, rarely makes it to the US. Customarily, an estate's Bourgogne level bottling meets expectations, displaying the house style and reflecting the broadest and most general defined terroir of the Burgundy region. And other times it wildly exceeds this designation: Bertheau's Bourgogne Rouge typifies Chambolle Musigny and the ethereal combo of its terroir and the domaine's featherweight touch.
François Bertheau's wines are for the ultimate classic-leaning palate. In leaner vintages like 2008 and 2013 this Bourgogne level bottling is simply not one I would recommend to more California-focused Pinot Noir drinkers. The chalky limestone and rose pedal notes are the defining elements in these years. However, when a vintage like 2015 rolls around with its plush and fleshy fruit, this Bourgogne bottling becomes the complete package.
Bertheau executes brilliantly in these warmer and more fruit-forward vintages, while never peeling away any of the distinctly Chambolle qualities that have made them so adored by purists. The new oak regimen is kept to a maximum of 20% for even the Grand Crus, but for the Chambolle Villages and Bourgogne Rouge large neutral foudres are used for aging. This is a rarity in Burgundy and a prime element in these cuvée's ability to maintain a distinct mineral backbone in even the warmest years.
2015 is receiving all the great accolades from the usual suspects. And while I continue to make my case that the more classic vintages like 2013 and 2014 deserve equal attention, the truth remains 2015 offers something quite different. It's these more humble wines that are taken to the next level, showing a depth and length of finish that's very uncommon.
For me, there's no Bourgogne level wine that thrills more so than Bertheau's. It speaks of delicacy and nuance in a way that encapsulates everything I love so much about Burgundy. When choosing a Pinot Noir for any setting, and any drinker, this is the option that delivers the magic of Chambolle Musigny at a fraction of the price.
2015 François Bertheau Bourgogne Rouge
$45 per bottle.
1988 François Bertheau Chambolle Musigny
$142 per bottle.
1988 François Bertheau Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru Les Charmes
$229 per bottle.
1996 François Bertheau Bonnes Mares 1.5L
$579 per bottle.
1999 François Bertheau Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru Les Amoureuses
$376 per bottle.
2009 François Bertheau Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru
$137 per bottle.
2013 François Bertheau Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru Les Charmes
$119 per bottle.